A former worker at a Berks County nursing home was arrested after she allegedly took photos of deceased residents and then sent them to her friends and co-workers.
The investigation began on Sept. 25 when Bern Township Police were contacted by the Director of Nursing at the Berks Heim Nursing & Rehabilitation in Leesport, Pennsylvania. The director told police she received an anonymous letter about Stephanie R. Thomas, one of her Certified Nursing Assistants (CNA).
The letter, which also included screenshots, accused Thomas of taking photos of dead residents at the facility and then disseminating them amongst her friends and co-workers. The screenshot showed the photos were sent from a number that matched Thomas’ cell phone number, police said.
A police officer then spoke to Thomas who told him she didn’t know why she had just been suspended from her job at Berks Heim, according to the affidavit of probable cause. The officer looked at Thomas’ phone and asked her about the letter. Thomas allegedly admitted she had sent photos of the deceased residents because her ex-boyfriend “liked that kind of thing.”
The next day the officer submitted Thomas’ cellphone to the Berks County Forensic Services Unit. Police said the contents included photos of three deceased Berks Heim residents ranging in age from 84 to 92. They also said each photo was taken on the same day each resident died at the facility.
Police also said they found numerous photos of dead animals including deer skulls, decapitated deer heads, an internet photo of a dog skull, an embalmed small dead shark and a professional looking photo of Thomas posing with a deer skull and antlers.
Police also spoke with three witnesses who Thomas had allegedly sent the photos to. The witnesses said that Thomas was “into dead animals” and had “an obsession with death,” according to the affidavit.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, police interviewed family members of the three deceased residents in the photos. The family members said they were disgusted and outraged and that they did not give consent for the pictures to be taken.
Thomas was arrested and charged with abuse of corpse. Her preliminary hearing is scheduled for Dec. 3.