Daughter blames failed security for hospital murder

November 24, 2010 6:49:12 PM PST
New details are emerging about the recent murder of a Napa State Hospital worker and how a security alarm that could have saved her life failed. The victim's daughter spoke exclusively with ABC7.

"She was real excited about going to work and it was just like a second home for her; she had a lot of friends at work," Anna Bock said.

Bock says her 54-year-old mother Donna Gross was a giving, caring person. That is also how she treated her patients at Napa State Hospital.

"Some people call them inmates, but my mom didn't see them that way; she knew they were very dangerous offenders but she still had a passion for working with them," Bock said.

Bock says Gross felt comfortable on the tranquil grounds of the main hospital.

"Her mom was institutionalized for psychiatric issues, for being bipolar and schizophrenic, so when she was a child, she grew up going to Napa State to visit her mom," she said.

So, it was fitting for Gross to become a psych tech 14 years ago.

Bock says Gross also knew the dark side of the forensics unit where she worked, the section which houses the criminally insane and most violent patients.

"She'd made comments over the years about how dangerous it was at Napa State and how progressively it was becoming more dangerous," Bock said.

Bock says there were times her mother was afraid to go to work.

"A couple of weeks before she died, she was just telling me about patients that maybe had changed their demeanor or had been behaving in a way that made her more frightened," Bock said. "Patients that were acting up more frequently around her and she was more scared, more scared than she was in the past to go to work."

Gross told her daughter more violent offenders were being admitted. One of them was Jess Massey. He had been convicted of sexually assaulting a woman and slitting her throat.

On the afternoon of Oct. 23, Gross went to the store on her break, bought gum and cigarettes, then checked back through the guard station. A police source says Massey followed her as she walked on the grounds, then strangled her and stole $2, the gum and her bracelet.

The source says Gross fought hard. She pressed an alarm button which psych techs wear on their waistband even though workers have told ABC7 the alarms do not generally work outside the buildings.

"Because of the proximity of her to the unit that she worked in, the button went off in the kitchen and when people responded to it in the kitchen area, they called it a false alarm," Bock said.

Bock is angry. She says if there were better security, her mother would still be alive.

"I just feel something could have been done and that if there's anyone out there that can help, so that it doesn't happen again," she said.

Bock says investigators told her Massey ran back into his unit, sweating and agitated, his shirt torn but no one wrote him up on his condition. Police say Massey eventually confessed. He is awaiting trial.

ABC7 asked hospital officials if they wanted to comment on Bock's remarks. They declined but they have said before that they have adequate security, which includes the personal alarm system.


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