BERKS COUNTY, Pa. — A former employee of a nursing home in Berks County is accused of taking pictures of three deceased residents and texting them to friends and coworkers.
Stephanie Thomas, 28, faces three counts of abuse of corpse in connection with the photos, court documents show.
Police began an investigation on September 25 after they were contacted by the nursing home’s Director of Nursing advising that she had received an anonymous letter about Thomas, a certified nursing assistant, regarding the accusations above. In the letter, the anonymous person wrote they had direct knowledge of Thomas’ actions and had screenshots of pictures via text messages to prove it.
That same day, police went to Thomas’ residence to speak with her about the letter and screenshots, in which she reportedly admitted to sending them because her ex-boyfriend “liked that kind of thing,” according to charging documents. Thomas advised that it was a mistake and she shouldn’t have taken or sent them. However, she did deny taking any others or sending anything similar to other people.
Police seized Thomas’ phone and advised that a search warrant would be applied for to review the contents inside. The phone was submitted to the Berks County Forensic Services Unit on September 26 to be downloaded. More than a month later, October 31, a digital copy of the contents was provided to police.
Police looked at the contents on November 1, in which three pictures of deceased residents were observed. One resident was face down with a bloody discharge coming from her facial region, charging documents state, while the two others were on their backs in a hospital-type bed. The photos were taken on April 22, May 22 and July 29; all three dates being correlated with the nursing home’s records that showed when each patient passed away, charging documents say.
Later that day, police spoke with several witnesses who advised that they were sent multiple pictures of deceased residents by Thomas. They added that Thomas is “into death” and has “an obsession with death.”
Police also met with the family members of the three deceased residents on November 5 and 6, who all “expressed disgust with the actions of (Thomas),” according to charging documents.
Thomas was charged Wednesday. A preliminary hearing is scheduled for December 3.