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St. Peter Police Investigate Murder at State Security Hospital

Updated: 01/23/2014 6:16 PM
Created: 01/23/2014 10:25 AM KSTP.com
By: Beth McDonough

Police say a patient at the Minnesota State Security Hospital in St. Peter died from injuries that appear to be caused by "violent trauma."

Officers with the St. Peter Police Department were called to the hospital at 7:53 p.m. Wednesday. They arrived to find 41-year-old Michael Francis Douglas lying in his room with injuries. Paramedics attempted life support, but it was unsuccessful.

Thirty-one-year-old Darnell Dee Whitefeather was arrested for probable cause murder, police say. He could be charged with murder as early as Friday.

A look at both of their court records reveals Whitefeather has been convicted of robbery at knife point. Douglas is a convicted murderer. They've both spent time in prisons or institutions.

Records show Douglas was brought to St. Peter Treatment Facility just last month. He was waiting for a mental evaluation. The facility is the largest hospital in the state for the mentally dangerous. Police tell us patients have their own rooms, which can be locked. Surveillance camera's are in some, but not all areas. Video is being checked, questions asked and other patients interviewed.

Anytime there is a death or serious injury, the State Ombudsman for the Mentally Ill is called in, "we look at the whole picture and say is there something we see here that could be improved upon to protect people in the future," according to Roberta Opheim.

In recent years, state investigators criticized the hospital as "chaotic". At one point, half the psychiatrists resigned.

The Department of Human Services, which runs the center, put it on conditional license. In 2012, The Governor called the center a "crisis, in need of reform". 

After Douglas' violent death Wednesday, the Governor also called for a review, "it's a situation fraught with peril for the staff and the patients and we have to face up to that."

The St. Peter Police Department, the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension and State Ombudsman for the Mentally Ill are investigating.

41-year-old Michael Francis Douglas was found lying in his room with injuries and later died.
Darnell Dee Whitefeather was arrested for probable cause murder.
Photo: KSTP/File
Photo: KSTP/File

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