Year-in-Review: Murder of Haverhill Nursing Home Patient Brings Shock and Grief

Oxford Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, 689 Main St., Haverhill was the scene of an Oct. 5, 2019 murder. (WHAV News file photograph.)

Haverhill learned first from WHAV of the city’s only murder of 2019—the beating death of a 76-year-old nursing home patient Saturday night, Oct. 5.

Police say Robert Boucher died when his 83-year-old roommate Jose Veguilla allegedly used his walker to beat him to death. Both were residents of Oxford Rehabilitation and Health Care Center, 689 Main St.

Carrie Kimball, spokeswoman for Essex County District Attorney Jonathan W. Blodgett told WHAV, “Police found a 76-year old male suffering from injuries a result of a physical assault.  He was transported to Holy Family Hospital where he was pronounced dead.”

In court the next day, Dr. Kerry Nellington told Haverhill District Court Judge Patricia Dowling the roommate suffers from dementia and a traumatic brain injury as the result of a fall. Nelligan also told Dowling Veguilla confused her for the attorney hired to represent him, Jonathan Shapiro.

Called to The Oxford at 7:37 p.m. Saturday, Haverhill Police Officers Justin Graham and Kevin Tracy found Veguilla on the second floor of 689 Main St., at the entrance to the day room allegedly swinging his metal walker. Graham ordered him to drop the walker, which had blood on the legs and handle.

He complied with Graham’s order, then shook his hand and attempted to speak to him in Spanish. During a later interview with Officer Kevin DeCarvalho conducted in Spanish, Veguilla was “not making any sense” and telling DeCarvalho “random stories about a man and woman he may need to get rid of.”

When police went to the room the two men shared, they found a nurse tending to Boucher, who was bleeding from his head and had a large laceration on his forehead. According to Graham, Boucher was breathing but unresponsive at that time.

In a statement, The Oxford’s parent company, Connecticut-based Athena Health Care Systems, told WHAV its staff acted “quickly and appropriately” based on an internal investigation.”

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