Autopsy raises questions

Death of the bed-ridden woman was caused by a recent injury.
Wednesday, August 10, 2005 | 12:00 a.m. CDT; updated 11:57 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Autopsy results for a 74-year-old woman who died Saturday morning at University Hospital show that her death was caused by an injury to the abdomen, Boone County Medical Examiner Valerie Rao said Tuesday.

Police identified the woman for the first time Tuesday morning as Nelva Gentry of 813B Again St.

Gentry’s son and live-in caregiver, Braxton Gentry, 47, called paramedics Saturday morning, police said. Then at around 10:20 a.m., police responded to a call from paramedics requesting additional assistance with Nelva Gentry, who was unresponsive. She was transported from her home to University Hospital where she was later pronounced dead.

Columbia police Capt. Mike Martin said that officers who responded to the scene reported what appeared to be bruising on the lower half of Nelva Gentry’s torso.

Nelva Gentry had been bed-ridden for a number of years and was on a feeding tube, Martin said. Martin said police initially questioned whether the marks could have been the result of her condition. But Rao said the autopsy revealed that the injuries were recent.

While Martin said foul play has not been ruled out, police were not calling the case a homicide.

The case is being investigated by the police department’s Major Crimes Unit, which Martin said is standard procedure for all unattended deaths. But, in a separate interview, Martin said that Braxton Gentry was present when police arrived at the scene.

Martin said police would not be ready to disclose more details about the case until they have had the chance to review the autopsy results with Rao, which he said would happen today.

“It’s still a death investigation,” Martin said. “But there are some suspicious parts that obviously we’re looking into.”

Rao performed the autopsy Monday. Efforts to contact Braxton Gentry on Tuesday were unsuccessful.

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