Fellow patient charged in slaying of man at Washington, DC, psych hospital

A patient at Saint Elizabeths Hospital in Washington, D.C., has been charged with first-degree murder in the death of a fellow patient, local police said March 9. 

The victim, 65-year-old David Dowdell, was found unconscious and unresponsive by staff performing routine room checks in the early hours of March 9, according to NBC Washington. Police said Mr. Dowdell was "suffering from apparent trauma."

Charles Lee, 28, another patient at the hospital, was arrested and charged March 9. Both men had been transferred to the public psychiatric hospital from D.C. jail for court-ordered psychiatric evaluations. 

Mr. Dowdell's daughter, Crystal Davis, said she spoke to her father on the phone hours before his death and could hear someone giving him death threats in the background, according to a seperate NBC Washington report.

The D.C. Department of Behavioral Health, which operates the hospital, told NBC News it is offering emotional support to patients and staff and will investigate the incident to determine whether safety procedures were followed.

The hospital is "committed to a safe, therapeutic environment for individuals with serious mental illness who need inpatient treatment to recover," the department told the outlet.

Editor's note: Becker's has reached out to the D.C. Department of Behavioral Health for comment and will update the article as more information becomes available.

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