Tea Party Kills DozensBy Donald W. Badenoch, correspondent for Bracebridge Weekly Bugle
Kenneth Comynge after interrogation by police about mysterious retirement home deaths. OPP photo
BRACEBRIDGE, ONT. Mr. Kenneth Henry Comynge, a 76-year-old resident of a Bracebridge retirement home, is being questioned by police after six died after attending a 'get acquainted' tea party hosted by Mr. Comynge.
Donald Ward Riccardo, operator of the 96 bed retirement home, Bide-a-Wee-While, said that while everyone knew the septuagenarian was on the crusty side and was often at the centre of disturbances, none was prepared for the devastation allegedly caused by poisoned chocolate chip cookies served at the party. According to police, roach powder seems the likely ingredient since the powder is freely dispensed to residents who complain of vermin infestation in their suites.
Mr. Riccardo said that Mr. Comynge, like most superannuated old farts, "can be difficult" but his outbursts are becoming more violent and disruptive. "Maybe, like everyone here, he knows his days are numbered and we're definitely overcrowded but we try to make everyone as comfortable as we can on the pittance the Harris government spends on these facilities." Mr. Riccardo gave me a tour of Bide-a-Wee-While and I could well understand the difficulties Mr. Riccardo faces in dealing with cantankerous guests. The retirement 'suites' are tiny and do not have bathrooms. For each floor there is only one toilet for some thirty residents, and this poses an obvious problem as most of the guests suffer from a variety of intestinal problems especially inflammatory bowel disorder.
Probably owing to the lack of facilities, Mr. Comynge has several times been caught peeing out out of his living room window and once he was caught throwing a bag of his waste onto heads of strollers on the path below. However, the biggest problem with Mr. Comynge is his reaction when people are slow getting out of his way. Several times he has been warned about shouting obscene remarks at staff and other guests. On Christmas Day, he had an altercation with an eighty - year - old woman in a wheelchair. While the guests were getting in line for Christmas dinner, the woman had wished Mr. Comynge a Merry Christmas and he had responded by pushing her wheelchair at high speed down the hallway. The wheelchair then collided with a staff member bringing a pail of stew from the kitchen and the elderly woman was thrown onto the floor. The loss of their Christmas dinner had residents demanding that Mr. Comynge be evicted from Bide-a-Wee While. However, since the elderly woman suffered only minor abrasions, Mr. Comynge was allowed to continue in residence. His punishment on that occasion was to limit his access to the dining room until other guests had finished their meal.
Mr. Riccardo, who has a sense of humour, laughed as he told me about Mr. Comynge taking a fire extinguisher and holding the nozzle to an 87- year - old man's ear trumpet. "Luckily the man was almost totally deaf anyway and the blast merely blew away his glasses and toupee. Though the old geezer later suffered a cardiac arrest, an autopsy revealed he was about to croak anyway and Mr. Comynge was not charged," he said.
Police would not say whether Mr. Comynge will be charged in this latest incident but as a precaution he is confined to his room, cannot associate with other guests, and can only visit the facilities under escort. One elderly resident who is clearly in awe of Mr. Comynge told this reporter that he frequently finds scrawled death threats pushed under his door whenever he has done 'something' that met with Mr. Comynge's obvious disapproval. "I hope they take that crazy fucker away," he said.