Home Faces Increased Scrutiny After It Lost Elderly St. Thomas Man In Park Where They Left Him To Die
Missing man: Lubin Phipps of St. Thomas
BOWIE, Maryland – The daughter of an 80-year-old St. Thomas man, who had been missing for weeks after he wandered away from a senior picnic, is heartbroken that her father died outdoors, alone.
Police believe they found the body of Lubin Phipps during a search of Watkins Regional Park Sunday. The remains of a man who matches Phipps’ description was found in an area of the park that police described as “not regularly traveled.”
Staff from an assisted living center were taking care of Lubin Phipps at the time. Phipps has dementia and had been living at the Woodmore House Assisted Living facility since he moved to the U.S. mainland from the Virgin Islands. The center took him out for the picnic without notifying his family, according to his daughter, Michelle Phipps.
“It was the first time I learned that he was attending this picnic. Um, they never called us prior to bringing him to this event,” Phipps said.
Sunday, a body was discovered near the park. Maryland-National Capital Police issued a statement saying that they and other search and rescue teams in the state found a deceased male near the park.
But family members, including Charlotte Amalie High School graduate Michelle Phipps say the body was found Sunday in a field about 180 yards from an area that was searched previously.
The remains were found in a soybean field near the 300-acre park, where Phipps had attended a picnic for elderly people on Sept. 18. Phipps had left to use the restroom and never returned.
Police said that the cause of death will be determined by the Maryland Medical Examiner’s Office and that the Prince George’s County Police is investigating the death.
Monday morning, Michelle Phipps sent out the following statement:
“It is with heartfelt sadness, we learned yesterday October 11, 2015 that the Park Police and various Maryland Search and Rescue Teams discovered in Watkins Regional Park a deceased male who is presumed to be Mr. Lubin Phipps (our father). Our family thank you for reaching out to us and keeping the public informed as we searched for our father.
We have scheduled a press conference at 2:00 p.m. today to answer questions as we go through this extremely difficult time.”
The Virgin Islands Free Press will monitor the press conference and have any updates here.
An official at the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene says it is investigating the facility where Phipps was living.
“The Office of Health Care Quality has on-going investigations at the adult medical day care and at the assisted living facility,” it wrote in a statement.
The facility has not offered any additional information about the disappearance or steps they may have taken after repeated questions from reporters.
Lubin Phipps of St. Thomas