Woman charged in death of father, 82; body had high level of antidepressant

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By Maria Glod and Jennifer Buske
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, July 20, 2010

A Woodbridge woman has been charged with killing her elderly father, who police said had a high level of an antidepressant in his system when he died this past spring.

Patricia L. Blevins, 53, was arrested Friday in the March death of Marden Wilson, 82, whom she had taken care of over several years, according to Prince William County police and court records. Blevins is charged with felony homicide, which is defined as an accidental killing "contrary to the intention of the parties" while in the commission of a felony. A police spokesman said the felony is related to prescription fraud.

Wilson was at a Residence Inn in Woodbridge when he collapsed March 13, police said. He later died at Potomac Hospital. An autopsy showed that Wilson had a high level of sertraline, a generic form of the antidepressant and anti-anxiety drug Zoloft, in his system, police said Monday. Crushed sertraline pills were found in his stomach.

At the time of his death, Wilson did not have a prescription for sertraline, police said. He did not have a primary physician and was in Blevins's care, they said.

Police would not elaborate on the circumstances of Wilson's death or his daughter's alleged role. "We're still trying to investigate it and put together the pieces," said Officer Mark Merriman, a police spokesman.

Blevins has had legal troubles connected to efforts to obtain prescription drugs. On Friday, when she was arrested on the Prince William charge, she appeared in federal court in Alexandria after admitting that she had tried to pick up a fraudulent painkiller prescription at a Costco pharmacy.

A judge gave her credit for the time she had already served and ordered that she be supervised for a year, according to a spokesman for the U.S. Attorney's Office.

In court documents in the federal case, prosecutors said that Blevins illegally obtained drugs that purportedly had been prescribed for her father.

Blevins admitted that she had called in prescriptions to pharmacies using the name of a nurse who worked for a local doctor, the records state.

The documents describe three instances in which the fake prescriptions were written in Blevins's father's name, including one that was picked up from a Woodbridge drugstore after his death. The drugs included clonazepam, which can have a sedative effect and is used to treat seizures and panic disorders, and the painkillers hydrocodone and Vicodin. Court records say the pharmacy put Tic Tac mints in the Vicodin bottle after the doctor's office said the prescription was fraudulent.

Blevins's attorneys in the federal case portrayed her as a devoted daughter who lived with her aging parents, looking after them and maintaining their home as their health deteriorated.

Blevin's father suffered a series of strokes and heart attacks beginning in the mid-1980s and at some point became unable to care for himself, her attorneys said in court records. Her mother, they said, cracked her hip in 1991 and needed extra help. She died in 2007.

In a letter to the judge, Blevins's sister, Terry Wilson, wrote that Blevins "has a good heart and is a good person." She said Blevins looked after their parents and also raised a granddaughter, and the "stress was overwhelming."

"I offered to pay for day-care workers and whatever it took to give her a break and allow her to get out of the house and work," Terry Wilson wrote. "She tried this several times, but as they became more disabled, she felt like she had to be there and take care of them, especially our father."

Wilson wrote that her sister made some "bad choices" but offered to have Blevins stay at her home and help her find an apartment and a job. Terry Wilson could not immediately be reached to comment on her sister's arrest.

Staff researcher Madonna Lebling contributed to this report.

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