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Man pleads guilty to murder, rape in death of 80-year-old woman at Indianapolis health care center

An employee at Homestead Healthcare Center said they saw Dwayne Freeman holding a pillow over Patricia Newnum's face on Feb. 2.

INDIANAPOLIS — A man will face sentencing June 22 for the rape and murder of an 80-year-old woman at an Indianapolis health care center last year.

Dwayne Freeman pleaded guilty June 8 in the death of Patricia Newnum. 

Newnum died Feb. 2, 2022, at the Homestead Healthcare Center, a "skilled care and rehabilitation center" on Madison Avenue on the south side.

Police were called to the facility, and officers determined Newnum's death to be suspicious. The coroner's office later determined she died by asphyxiation by smothering.

According to court documents, an employee entered Newnum's room to give her medication when she saw Freeman, another resident of the facility, lying on top of the victim, holding a pillow over her face and appearing to be having sex with her.

Credit: IMPD
Dwayne Freeman, of Indianapolis.

Employees reportedly then found Freeman in his room, where they also found an empty bottle of alcohol and could smell alcohol on Freeman's breath.

Freeman told police he had been in Newnum's room, but that "she was already dead" when he was there. He told investigators he passed by the victim's room and went in because he heard her asking for help, but denied having been on top of Newnum.

Court documents say Freeman finally admitted to having sex with Newnum, but said it was consensual and denied putting a pillow on her. He was later arrested and taken to the hospital for a sexual assault suspect exam.

Freeman faces a sentence of 45 years under his plea agreement.

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