Could a violent outburst by former wrestling champion Verne Gagne, 82, have led to the death of another resident in his retirement community?
MinnPost tells the tragic story of Gagne, who suffers from Alzheimer's-related dementia, and an alleged attack that might have resulted in the death of Helmut R. Gutmann, 97. Gutmann also suffered from Alzheimer's. Both men live in Friendship Village, a Bloomington facility housing people with Alzheimer's and dementia.
On Jan. 26, Gagne allegedly threw Gutmann to the floor. Gutmann was sent to the hospital and died 20 days later.
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It's not known what precipitated the incident between the two men at the memory loss unit of the Friendship Village retirement community. But according to Gutmann's widow, Betty Gutmann, Gagne picked up the diminutive and frail man and hurled him violently to the floor, breaking his hip.Police did not show up after the incident, but they were notified later of an incident Jan. 26. Bloomington police said an investigation was ongoing, but they would confirm the identities of the two involved.
Betty Gutmann said that while she is sad and upset about the attack, those feelings are tempered by the realization that Gagne probably did not understand what he was doing at the time, and apparently does not remember it.
"You can't blame the person that did it," she said. "[Gagne] doesn't know what he's doing. I feel so sorry for his family, because they are faced with a terrible problem of what to do."
MinnPost says Gagne had a history of violence at the facility and he no longer lives there. Betsy Gutmann said her husband had a run-in with Gagne once before.
Gagne made a name for himself as a pro wrestler from 1949 to 1981. He launched the "All Star Wrestling" TV show in 1960.
Gutmann was born in Germany and fled Nazi Germany to serve as a captain in the U.S. Army's Chemical Warfare Service in World War II. He also worked as a cancer research scientist in Minneapolis for 40 years.
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