2 Patients Murdered in California Mental Hospital

Published: December 12, 2005

SAN BERNARDINO, Calif., Patton State Hospital, California’s largest mental hospital, has been experiencing a surge in violence recently with two murders since September.

Long-term patient Dwight Wenholz, 43, was found dead Dec. 7. Police say he had been choked and slammed to the floor. In September, Robert Lucas, 50, was choked and stabbed in the neck. Both Wenholz and Lucas were murdered by fellow patients.

Prior to the unrelated incidents, Patton had not reported a slaying since 1994. The institution houses severely mentally ill patients referred by the criminal courts.

California’s mental hospitals are facing additional scrutiny from the U.S. Justice Department. Two other state hospitals have been criticized by the agency for not preventing patients from harming themselves or each other.

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The slaying of Wenholz occurred the evening before a federal inspection.

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