Former Nursing Supervisor Pleads Guilty to Attempted Murder of Elderly Patient

Peggy Couse, 43, who was employed as a nursing supervisor at Twin City Health Care in Gas City, Indiana, has pleaded guilty to charges that she tried to kill an 83-year-old nursing home patient, Virgil Dailey, with a lethal dose of morphine.

While Dailey died in January 2003 from complications of pneumonia, prosecutors alleged that the death occurred shortly after Couse gave him an overdose of morphine.

Witnesses told investigators they saw Couse give morphine to Dailey just hours before he died from pneumonia at the nursing home. In February 2003, in response to suspicion about Couse’s distribution of narcotics to patients and co-workers without authorization, Daily’s body was exhumed.

Toxicology tests performed more than a month after Mr. Dailey’s death showed traces of morphine in the liver. However, authorities could not confirm that the morphine caused the death.

As the jury selection for the trial was about to begin, Couse pled guilty to charges of attempted murder and dispensing medications without a license. She now faces a prison sentence of up to 20 years as part of the agreement with prosecutors who dismissed three additional felony drug charges against Couse. Sentencing is expected to take place in September. Couse could have been sentenced to 50 years in prison had she been convicted by a jury of the most serious charge.

Grant County Prosecutor James Luttrull Jr. said he was surprised by the plea. He remarked “We’re glad to see it end and for the family members of the nursing home resident, it’s been a drain on them.”

Nursing home abuse continues to be a growing problem in America. will cover this and other problems affecting the elderly in an upcoming Special Report.

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