A Patton, Mo., woman faces a manslaughter charge after an autopsy revealed that one of her home-health patients had ulcers and bedsores with maggots in the wounds when she died.
When authorities arrived at Langston's home on Jewel Drive to investigate her Oct. 23 death, foul play was not initially suspected. However, when Coroner John Clifton arrived at the scene, he noticed a strong smell of decomposition and found that she was sitting in a feces-stained diaper, according to a probable-cause statement.
Clifton found several bedsores on the woman's back with maggots, both dead and alive, in the wounds, according to the statement. After the discovery of the bugs, Clifton decided to have an autopsy performed Oct. 25.
Dr. Russell Diediker performed the autopsy and found that Langston died as a result of a sepsis infection in the bedsores. He also discovered skin breakdowns and ulcers on Langston's back, left hip and knee, both heels and a toe on her left foot, according to the probable-cause statement.
Diediker noted that the skin breakdowns and ulcers were a result of prolonged pressure on the skin, "typically from inadequate or insufficient turning or repositioning of the patient," according to the statement.
"It is my medical opinion that this is below the standard of medical care," Diediker wrote before ruling Langston's death a homicide.
Langston had a history of medical problems and had employed Coomer to stay with her 24 hours a day, seven days a week, according to the probable-cause statement. Coomer lived with Langston and was paid to groom and bathe her, as well as ensure she took her medication and went to doctors' appointments.
Coomer was listed as a special friend in Langston's obituary.
A phone call to Langston's son, Terry Narsh of Festus, Mo., was not answered Friday afternoon.
Confined to chair
While being interviewed by authorities, Coomer said Langston had been confined to a reclining chair in her living room since August because she was unable to stand, according to the probable-cause statement. Langston had grown incontinent in August. When Langston would have a bowel movement, Coomer would lean her forward roughly eight inches from the back of the chair and clean the top of her back down to her belt line, according to the probable-cause statement.
Coomer would also lift Langston's legs as high as she could and clean them to the best of her abilities, according to the statement. Coomer told authorities that she was never able to clean Langston's buttocks.
Cooper said she could see the top of Langston's back but denied seeing any of the skin breakdowns or bed sores discovered during the autopsy. During the autopsy, Diediker also found a common skin ointment that Coomer had applied to Langston. The ointment was inches from the area of raw skin, according to the probable-cause statement.
When asked how she did not notice the raw skin when applying the ointment, Coomer did not have an answer for investigators.
Coomer told investigators she never noticed bedsores on Langston, but when asked why she was not more thorough in checking for them, she did not have an answer, according to the probable-cause statement.
Investigators asked Coomer who was responsible for the condition of Langston's body at the time of her death, and Coomer said she was, according to the statement.
Cape Girardeau police investigated Langston's death for three months before arresting Coomer. If convicted, Coomer faces up to four years in prison.
Coomer has been involved with home health care for more than 30 years, according to court records. In 2007, she started a private home health care business, Gold Leaf Enterprises, with her husband, Harold Coomer, according to the Missouri secretary of state's business database. The business dissolved in 2008.
In December 2008, Gold Leaf Transportation, a taxi service for the elderly created by Coomer, received a $6,000 grant from the Cape Girardeau County Commission's Senior Citizens' Services Fund Board. The commission unanimously approved the grant but only after questioning why the funding was not going to the Cape Girardeau County Transit Authority.
In November 2009, Coomer and Cynthia Hickerson, of Thebes, Ill., filed with the secretary of state's office to create Gold Leaf Transportation LLC.
Messages left at Gold Leaf Transportation's Jackson office and Hickerson's home were not immediately returned.
Coomer's bond was set at $5,000. She will be arraigned Tuesday.
Jewel Drive, Cape Girardeau, MO