"She was going to preserve the foot and put it on display with a sign that said 'Wear your boots kids.'"
38-year-old Wisconsin nurse Mary K. Brown has been accused of amputating the frostbitten foot of a patient without permission … before allegedly telling coworkers she had plans to display it at her family’s taxidermy shop.
Last week, Brown was charged with mayhem and intentionally causing great bodily harm to an elderly person — felonies — after an investigation into the death of a 62-year-old patient at Spring Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center in Pierce County. Authorities began looking into the death after the medical examiner reportedly noticed the man’s foot was “lying beside him” — and wasn’t attached to the rest of his body — when sent for an autopsy.
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A recently filed affidavit broke down what allegedly went down, after the man was admitted to the rehab center in March of this year. Per NBC News, he was placed there after suffering “severe frostbite” to his feet after his heat went out and they had become necrotic.
Throughout the investigation by Pierce County sheriff’s investigator Pete Koch, other nurses said his right foot was “dead, foul smelling and was held on by a tendon” and those in hospice care thought his death was imminent. One nurse was even quoted as saying “she was able to take his foot and put it back in” in the days before the amputation — as another described it as being “black like a mummy.”
On May 27, Brown cut off the foot using gauze scissors, in front of two other nurses who said they were there when it happened, according to investigators. She reportedly did ask permission, but was denied by an administrator, who believed the man was moments away from dying. Several days later, Brown is said to have then gone rogue.
“Brown had no doctor’s order to conduct an amputation. She stated that she did not have any authorization to remove VICTIM’s foot. Brown did not have VICTIM’s permission to amputate his foot,” reads the criminal complaint, via KSTP. “Administrators of the nursing home agreed that it was outside of the scope of Brown’s practice to conduct such a procedure and a doctor’s order was necessary prior to any amputation.”
An administrator said a doctor likely would have ordered the procedure and didn’t believe Brown was being malicious with her intent. Brown herself is quoted as saying she “was trying to make the quality of life better” for the victim.
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But here’s where the allegations take a turn.
One of the nurses who was allegedly in the room said Brown talked about epoxying the victim’s foot and taking it home with her. Another nurse — who recalled Brown’s family had a taxidermy shop — said she told them “she was going to preserve the foot and put it on display with a sign that said ‘Wear your boots kids.'”
The foot was placed into a red biohazard bag and put in a freezer and though Brown allegedly said she wanted to “take it home to preserve it,” it remained in the freezer until the man died a few days later and went with him to the medical examiner.
In a statement, Spring Valley Health and Rehab Center said, “We have and will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation into this matter. The person identified is not employed with our community.”
Brown declined to speak about the accusations with The Washington Post earlier this week. She’s due in court on December 6.
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