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Reality House resident dies

The cause of death was extensive coronary artery disease.
Wednesday, December 31, 2003 | 12:00 a.m. CST; updated 12:02 p.m. CDT, Monday, July 21, 2008

A resident of Reality House, an alternative sentencing facility, died Monday from extensive coronary artery disease, the Boone County Sheriff’s Department said.

“The death appears natural, but toxicology is still going to be done,” said Boone County Sgt. Tom Reddin.

At first, Reddin said, officers suspected Terrance L. Anderson, 50, had died from choking on a piece of candy. But an autopsy performed Tuesday afternoon revealed that the candy had moved into Anderson’s stomach tract at the time of his death, Reddin said.

According to the sheriff’s department, Anderson was observed by Reality House staff during routine hourly checks between 2:30 p.m. and 2:40 p.m. Monday. At 2:53 p.m., staff members found Anderson unresponsive and called 911.

Upon arrival, paramedics took over resuscitation efforts from Reality House personnel and observed a piece of hard candy in the back of Anderson’s throat. A piece of gum was also removed from his mouth. He was transported to Boone Hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

Joel Putnam, education director for Reality House, said she didn’t know Anderson had heart disease. He had just arrived that day after being paroled by the Missouri Department of Corrections. He served time for first-degree assault and armed criminal action.

“I hoped they could do something for him,” Putnam said. “They continued to work on him as they removed him on the gurney. I’m sure the emergency people were doing the best they could.”

Reality House residents are checked on every hour, Putnam said, and staff members see every person in the facility.

Efforts to locate relatives of Anderson, who was originally from the St. Louis area, have been unsuccessful, Reddin said.

“Reality House staff is still continuing the effort to contact Anderson’s family,” he said. “But the information they have received about possible family members is proving to be outdated and unconfirmed.”

Anderson’s body will be held for a few months in the event that a family member is identified, according to the Boone County Medical Examer’s office. If no relative is found, the county will make final arrangements for burial.

Anderson is the second resident to die at Reality House in the 33-year history of the not-for-profit center. Erin R. Bennett, 26, of Columbia died in October of a heroin overdose. A security video showed Bennett entering a bathroom at the Reality House shortly before another resident found her slumped over.


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