Florida woman accused of killing husband in hospital bed

Jan Sochalski, Volusia County Jail booking photo

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — A retired nurse from central Florida woman is facing a second-degree murder charge after authorities say she suffocated her husband in his hospital bed when he suffered life-threatening complications and became unresponsive following surgery.

Daytona Beach Police Chief Mike Chitwood told news outlets that Jan Sochalski, 61, of Palm Coast was arrested Monday following the May 19 death of Henry Sochalski, 64.

According to an arrest report, Jan Sochalski had been complaining about her husband’s care after he went into respiratory and cardiac arrest April 9 after elective back surgery at Florida Hospital Memorial Medical Center in Daytona Beach.

The Daytona Beach News-Journal reports the retired Trenton, New Jersey, policeman, was unresponsive and placed in a unit that provides specialized medical care for people with serious illness.

Investigators noted in an arrest report that Jan Sochalski was so upset about her husband’s treatment that on April 28, she threatened to go home and get his firearm and “shoot the people on the seventh floor” of the hospital. Police were called to the hospital that day, but a nurse calmed the woman down and she wasn’t arrested.

A nurse told investigators that on one occasion, she had asked for medication to “decrease his respiratory status.”

On May 19, a nurse told investigators she walked into the man’s room and found his wife lying across his chest. According to the police report, the nurse said the woman had one hand around her husband’s chest and the other across his mouth and nose. A second nurse in the room said it appeared she was “pinching the victim’s nose.”

He died about 30 minutes later.

Nurses called police, and an investigation began.

An initial autopsy was done May 20, but results weren’t returned until Aug. 17.

Detective Dave Dinardi said Sochalski died of asphyxia of the mouth, nose and trachea.

On Monday, Jan Sochalski denied killing her husband, Dinardi said. She was arrested and is being held without bail at the Volusia County Jail. Jail records don’t list an attorney for her.

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