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Hospice nurse allegedly amputated dying man's frostbitten foot, planned to put it on display: 'Wear your boots, kids'

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A Wisconsin nurse has been arrested and charged with elder abuse after she allegedly amputated the foot of a dying man without permission.

On May 27, Mary K. Brown, 38, supposedly elected to amputate the foot of an unnamed 62-year-old patient at the Spring Valley Health and Rehabilitation Center in Spring Valley, Wisconsin, about 230 west of Green Bay.

Some time in March, the man had been admitted to the facility with severe frostbite in both feet after the heat in his home had gone out. By May, medical staff had determined that the man was "near death," and Tracy Reitz, the center’s director of nursing, said that the tissue in the foot that Brown reportedly removed had become necrotic.

The foot "was dead, foul smelling, and was held on by a tendon," Reitz claimed.

Another nurse described the foot as "black like a mummy."

By June, the patient had died, though the cause of death has not been disclosed. The medical examiner assigned to the man's case drew attention to the amputation after he noticed that the foot was no longer attached to the body "but was rather lying beside him," court documents said.

When Pete Koch of the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office questioned Brown about the detached foot, she allegedly admitted that she had performed the amputation as an act of compassion because the foot was in such poor condition. She also allegedly claimed that she would have wanted someone to amputate her foot under similar circumstances.

Regardless of whether law enforcement had any sympathy for her story, police noted that Brown did not have permission — either from the patient himself or from an attending physician — to amputate the foot. An unnamed nurse who assisted in the procedure also claimed that the patient was in agony the entire time, while another nurse insisted that the procedure had not been performed correctly.

Court documents indicate that the man's tendon had been cut with scissors before it more or less detached from the leg.

There are also allegations that Brown planned to steal the foot and put it on display in her family's taxidermy shop with a sign saying, "Wear your boots, kids." However, other reports indicate that the foot was placed in a plastic bag and stored in a freezer so that it could be returned to the body after the man passed away.

Last week, Brown was charged with physical abuse of an elder person, intentionally causing great bodily harm, and mayhem. Each of those charges carries a maximum penalty of 40 years in prison. Brown is expected to appear in court on Dec. 6.

According to Kevin Larson, the CEO of Spring Valley Senior Living and Health Care, Brown is no longer employed at the facility. "We have and will continue to fully cooperate with the investigation into this matter," he commented to Fox News Digital on Wednesday.

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