Woman With Dementia, 77, Found Dead Miles From Nursing Home

NBC10 is looking for answers after a patient walked away from her Lehigh Valley nursing home and was found dead weeks later. NBC10's Deanna Durante has spent days digging into state records, finding many violations the state wants to fix.

(Published Wednesday, Sept. 20, 2017)

What to Know

  • Audrey Penn went missing from Woodland Terrace at the Oaks on Aug. 23.

  • Her body was found Sept. 17 in a ditch about 2 miles from the Allentown nursing home.

  • The family's attorney is questioning the circumstances around Penn's disappearance.

A 77-year-old woman has been found dead about two miles away from the Pennsylvania nursing home where she was reported missing nearly a month ago.

A body found Sunday next to a road in Lower Macungie Township was identified by the Lehigh County coroner Monday as Audrey Penn. Police and family members had been searching for Penn, who had Alzheimer's disease, since she wandered away from a nursing home outside Allentown on Aug. 23.

Police say they have found the body of a woman who walked away from an Allentown nursing home last month. Audrey Penn's body was found in a ditch about 2 miles from the facility.

(Published Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2017)

Woodbine Senior Living, the parent company of Woodland Terrace at the Oaks Senior Living Community where Penn lived, even offered a $10,000 reward for her safe return.

"The entire Woodland Terrace community is deeply saddened by the tragic loss of Audrey Penn and the circumstances under which Audrey was found," Andrea McGowan, executive director of Woodland Terrace at the Oaks said in a prepared statement. "First and foremost, our thoughts and prayers are with Audrey’s family."

"Our community was committed to bringing Audrey home safely and joined individuals throughout the region, from as far away as Philadelphia and southern New Jersey, in raising awareness of the search. We are grateful to the Salisbury Police Department, especially Str. Donald Sabo and Detective Kevin Kress, the Pennsylvania State Police, as well as all first responders and volunteers who searched for Audrey."

Officials say her death is not considered suspicious. An autopsy will be performed Tuesday to determine a cause of death.

Penn's family retained Philadelphia-based medical malpractice and nursing home attorney Robert Sachs Jr. in August.

Sachs raised questions about how Penn was able to leave the secure facility where she was being cared for due to her diagnosis of dementia.

The family could pursue a lawsuit, Sachs said. He sent the nursing home a preservation letter -- in hopes of preserving potential evidence for trial -- for a series of items including video, electronic notifications, witness statements and logs, Sachs said.

Sachs points out that the Woodland Terrace at the Oaks website says the facility's "secured memory care residence provides an atmosphere that is relaxing, comfortable and safe."

The nursing home promises to cooperate with the ongoing police investigation into the circumstances around Penn's death.

"Woodland Terrace has been working with, and will continue to provide, law enforcement with all requested information," McGowan said. "All questions concerning the investigation should be directed to the Pennsylvania State Police. We can not provide further comment at this time."