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DHHS called in to investigate rest home fight, slaying

Two roommates at Countryside Villa Rest Home in Godwin got into a fight on Saturday. One died, and the other has been charged with murder.

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GODWIN, N.C. — State officials have been called in to investigate a slaying at a Cumberland County rest home.

An employee of Countryside Villa Rest Home was conducting a routine bed check Saturday afternoon when he found Levi Montgomery, 69, unresponsive in his room, authorities said.

Montgomery's roommate, Mencie Grimes, 60, was charged with second-degree murder in his death. Grimes was being held Monday in the Cumberland County Detention Center under a $250,000 bond.

Authorities said the roommates got into an argument that turned violent. There was no word on what sparked the dispute.

"At this time, we're not really sure what the argument was about," said Debbie Tanna, spokeswoman for the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.

Grimes was treated at Cape Fear Valley Medical Center for minor injuries before being taken to jail.

An autopsy was performed on Montgomery on Monday afternoon, but the cause of death hasn't been released.

"We do know that we had an injured body, but that doesn't necessarily mean that he died from those injuries," Tanna said.

Countryside Villa, at 8100 Dunn Road, has been in business about 30 years and has about 60 residents, owner John Weeks said.

Weeks said his staff is conducting an internal investigation to prevent such occurrences in the future. He also called the state ombudsman and the state Department of Health and Human Services to investigate the case.

A DHHS spokesman said officials were aware of the slaying but said state law precludes him from saying whether the rest home is under investigation.

Two DHHS inspectors visited Countryside Villa Monday to check on the well-being of other residents. State regulators inspect assisted-care homes annually.

In the past two years, state inspectors have found medication errors and food service problems at Countryside Villa, but nothing to warrant penalties or fines, the DHHS spokesman said.

Weeks said he would cooperate with any state investigation to determine if there was anything his staff could have done differently.


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