"Mother's letter explains murder-suicide"
ABC – 7, KGO-TV, San Francisco
By Dan Noyester
Monday, September 14, 2009
OAKLAND, CA (KGO) -- A mother turned a gun on her daughter in a murder-suicide Sunday night at an Oakland nursing home. Just hours before, the mother mailed a letter to ABC7's Dan Noyes to explain her motives.
Diana Harden wrote that her daughter, a patient at the nursing home, asked her to end her life and to send ABC7 a letter, exposing all the problems she encountered during the 15 years she bounced from one nursing home to the next.
Oakland police had little information about what happened Sunday night beyond the fact that 64-year-old Harden walked into an Oakland nursing home after 10 p.m. and shot and killed a patient there -- her 43-year-old daughter, Yvette and then killed herself.
UPDATE: Police investigate murder/suicide letter
"We know what happened, now we need to determine why it happened," Oakland Police Department spokesperson Jeff Thomasen said.
The letter sent to the ABC7 News I-Team begins, "Dear Mr. Noyes, this letter is an explanation in the deaths of my daughter and myself. A murder-suicide."
For five pages, Harden describes a 15 year ordeal, since her daughter was badly injured in a car accident.
Yvette Harden became a quadriplegic with brain injuries. She bounced from one nursing home to the next. Her mother brought her home for a brief time, but Yvette finally ended up at Oakland Springs Health Center on 10th Avenue and had lived there for the past six years.
Harden wrote about abuse her daughter suffered there.
The nurses "tell her she's 'a fat pig' and that they 'hate taking care of her' and they wash her in the shower 'like a car, real hard,' then they turn the cold water on to punish her. When she screams, they turn it back before the charge nurse can get there."
The strain apparently became too much for the two of them.
Harden wrote, "I can't let her go on like this. She has been begging me to end it for two years. My health is failing and I don't want to leave her alone. Please tell her story."
She signed the letter, "Diana Harden -- a mother who grieves."
"If nothing else, let's heed this mother's cry and say 'let's do something not just about the people that are in nursing homes, but let's do something about keeping people out of nursing homes in the first place,'" California Advocates for Nursing Home Reform spokesperson Pat McGinnis said.
The I-Team checked state records and found 54 complaints against the nursing home last year, 29 of them substantiated.
"Year after year after year after year during the period where this woman was living in that facility, these are the kind of numbers that that facility had, that's very high," McGinnis said.
The manager of the nursing home and the company that owns it would not comment. But the state Department of Public Health sent a statement saying, "our heartfelt sympathy goes out to all of those impacted by this tragic turn of events. We can confirm we have begun an investigation."