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Wood River nurse charged with killing mother-in-law in hospice

Data pix.

WOOD RIVER, Ill. – A registered nurse has been charged with murder for the intentional overdose of her mother-in-law.

According to the Madison County State's Attorney's Office, 85-year-old Wilma Melchert of Gillespie was released from a hospital on June 12 and was murdered hours later. And it was not a mercy killing.

Denise Melchert said for years her mother, Wilma, was a fixture in the Gillespie community. Over the years, she began to slow down, and three years ago she went into a nursing home.

Wilma Melchert

Denise said her mother was aware of her surroundings and wanted to live.

In June, Denise said the family decided to move Wilma to hospice. She would need full-time care but doctors expected her to live.

It was decided that Wilma would live with Denise's brother and his wife, Amy Melchert, at their home in Wood River.

Denise said hours after her Wilma left the hospital, she was dead. Her sister-in-law, Amy, who is also a registered nurse, was entrusted with Wilma's care.

"I still hate to think or see that my mom, at 85-years-old, went out in a homicide," said Denise. "Nobody could've ever told me that that would've happened to her. Not the kind of person she was."

The Wood River Police Department responded to investigate Wilma's death. A deputy coroner noticed discrepancies with her medication.

Investigators later determined that recently purchased prescription narcotics were missing. An autopsy and toxicology screening revealed that Wilma Melchert died from an overdose of morphine.

Amy Melchert

Amy Melchert, 47, was charged with two counts of murder, which means police believe they have alternative theories to prove the killing.

"We investigated this thoroughly and we are absolutely satisfied that the evidence that we have; all evidence, in fact, indicates this was no act of mercy committed here," said Madison County State's Attorney Tom Gibbons. "This was, in fact, the theft of the last days of a person's life who wanted to be with her family."

Amy Melchert’s bail has been set at $500,000. She could face from 20 to 120 years in jail if convicted.

Meanwhile, the state's attorney has not released information on a possible motive.

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