What to Know
- Donna Horger faces attempted murder, aggravated assault and reckless endangerment charges for the alleged insulin injections.
- Investigators say Horger’s mother, 74-year-old Mary Horger, suffers from dementia and osteoporosis and is not mobile.
- Defense attorney Fortunato Perry Jr says his client loves her mother and was just trying to put "her mother at peace and end her suffering."
A local pharmacist is accused of trying to kill her ailing mother by repeatedly injecting her with insulin with the hopes of "ending her suffering."
Donna Horger, 49, of Feasterville-Trevose, Bucks County, was arrested and charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault, recklessly endangering another person and neglect of care for a dependent person.
Investigators say Horger’s mother, 74-year-old Mary Horger, suffers from dementia and osteoporosis and is not mobile as a result.
Defense attorney Fortunato Perry Jr says his client loves her mother and was just trying to put "her mother at peace and end her suffering."
Since February of 2017, Mary Horger has been in and out of nursing homes for rehabilitation due to the effects of her medical conditions, which include broken bones caused by her osteoporosis.
On August 18, Mary was found unresponsive at the Immaculate Mary Nursing Home in Philadelphia. She was taken to Abington Memorial Hospital where doctors determined she was suffering from Hypoglycemia – or low blood sugar -- with a blood sugar level of 42 mg/dl. Hypoglycemia is defined as a blood sugar level of 70 mg/dl or lower. While she was in the emergency room, her blood sugar levels fluctuated from 32 mg/dl to 124 mg/dl.
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Severe hypoglycemia over a prolonged period of time can cause irreversible brain damage and heart problems and can even be fatal if not treated. Despite her alarmingly low blood sugar, Mary Horger is not diabetic and did not receive insulin treatments from doctors.
On August 21, at 9:37 p.m., nurses who were checking on Mary found her unresponsive. A blood test revealed her blood sugar was at 11 mg/dl and she was again suffering from Hypoglycemia. Her blood sugar level dropped to 5 mg/dl less than 30 minutes later but rose to 481 mg/dl after hospital staff administered dextrose.
Mary Horger had yet another episode of Hypoglycemia on August 30 with her blood sugar level dropping to 41 mg/dl at 3:15 p.m. and 32 mg/dl about an hour later. She received further treatment from hospital staff and her blood sugar level rose to 155 mg/dl.
Mary Horger’s doctor became suspicious of the repeated Hypoglycemia episodes and ordered several blood tests to determine the cause. Through the tests, the doctor discovered the insulin in Mary’s body wasn’t produced by her own body but was instead coming from an outside source. Staff members then discovered that someone outside the hospital was injecting Mary with insulin. Officials say each insulin injection could have been fatal if the hospital staff had not checked Mary in time.
On September 2, Abington Police interviewed hospital staff as part of their investigation. The staff members told detectives that only someone with a medical background would know what insulin can do to a person who isn’t diabetic. Police then discovered that Mary’s daughter, Donna Horger, was an experienced pharmacist with a license to administer injections. At the time of the interview, Donna Horger arrived at the hospital with her father, police said.
During an interview with detectives in a private room, Donna Horger allegedly admitted to injecting her mother with insulin. Horger told police that she hoped her mother’s blood sugar would drop and that she would not wake up and pass away, according to a criminal affidavit. Horger allegedly said she injected her with the hopes of "putting her mother at peace and ending her suffering."
Horger was released after posting $25,000 bail.
In addition to being a licensed pharmacist, Donna Horger owns the Brooks Pharmacy on Torresdale Avenue in Philadelphia.
Mary Horger remains at Abington Hospital where she continues to receive treatment.
A friend and neighbor described Donna Horger as a good daughter who has a close relationship with her mother.