A family wants answers after their elderly relative was found dead in the courtyard of the assisted living facility where he had lived for the past three years.
Police say 87-year-old Lawrence Bollettini died in the bitter cold Wednesday morning after he slipped away from Arden Courts, an assisted living facility in Cherry Hill, New Jersey.
"I'm heartbroken," said Gloria Quinlan, Bollettini's sister. "This is my brother. I knew he was going to die but not like that."
Detectives tell NBC10's Nefertiti Jaquez that an employee was conducting routine checks when they realized the patient, who suffers from dementia, wasn't in his room.
Police say staff members searched the building from top to bottom, but it wasn't until two hours later, around 6 a.m., that Bollettini's body was found face down in the facility's courtyard by another employee who called 911.
Now, police and the victim's family want to know how Bollettini managed to slip away undetected from a facility that is staffed 24 hours a day, especially since a key-pass is needed to get in and out of the building.
Quinlan believes officials at Arden Courts lied to her about how he died.
"He dies outside from hypothermia," Quinlan said. "Something is wrong. They didn't tell me the truth."
Quinlan claims that the executive director of Arden Courts wasn't forthcoming with any details when he called her to break the news of her brother's death.
"I asked him how he died," Quinlan said. "He said they didn't know if it was a stroke, a heart attack or what."
Quinlan says the officials eventually told her Bollettini was found outside but couldn't tell her how he managed to slip out of the building.
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On Friday, NBC10 learned Arden Courts was sued back in 2012. A family filed the lawsuit against them after their loved one was killed by another resident at their location in Whippany, New Jersey. The family won their lawsuit after it was proven that the workers were negligent and didn't do enough to protect the victim, even after her family complained about the suspect's violent behavior.
Quinlan says she is also considering a lawsuit against the company.
"It's hard," she said. "It's just so hard."
A representative with Arden Courts released this statement:
"The center is conducting an investigation into the matter including checking our security systems and procedures and is cooperating with the proper authorities."
An investigation is underway.