Hospital worker murdered by insane patient

Jess Willard Massey
October 25, 2010 12:07:01 PM PDT
Investigators are trying to figure out how a Napa State Hospital patient declared insane managed to kill a psychiatric technician.

Security issues are being raised because this is not the first time employees there have expressed concern about their safety.

The murder happened Saturday night. The victim, 54-year-old Donna Gross of Concord, worked at the hospital as a technician. The suspect, 37-year-old Jess Willard Massey, was a patient in the hospital.

The hospital is not saying much about what happened, but people who work inside the hospital have a lot to say and agreed to talk to ABC7 as long as they could remain anonymous.

"On a scale of 1 to 10, that's our pain rating, I would say it's a 10, 11, 15 yesterday," one employee said when asked how bad things were at the facility.

That comment came from a long-time nurse at the hospital. Staff inside the hospital told ABC7 that the victim went to lunch Saturday afternoon and was found dead two hours later.

"I had heard that she had been stabbed several times," another employee said.

What most saddens and frightens staff is that they say that this has been a long time coming. They had already filed years worth of complaints about patients who used to be classified as violent inmates.

The staff has long-worried about a lack of security from patients who walk around freely, and patients already judged to be mentally ill by the criminal justice system who do not have to worry about consequences.

"There's been people that were strangled, people were cornered alone in patient's rooms, pulled into patient's rooms, assaulted just impulsively for no apparent reason," said one employee who added that police are not assigned to the units.

"I was surprised that the sheriffs were able to come into the gate. I was actually relieved to see them coming in because it's like OK, real police officers that are going to at least investigate," said another employee.

When ABC7 asked for access to the public areas of the property Sunday, the same police officers threatened to arrest us.

In the meantime, one nurse says police and hospital management knew about a threat against staff, but they were not warned about it. They want to know why not.


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