Correction Department reports deaths of 2 inmates serving life terms


The Delaware Department of Correction reported that two inmates serving life terms for murder died from COVID-19 complications.

The inmates were housed at the James. T. Vaughn Correctional Center and died from complications from seriouschronic underlying health conditions.

Both inmates, who werepart of a minimum security housing unit that hasbeen closely monitored since April 8, died Wednesday morning, at Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus:

Richard Roth, a 69-year-old inmate,died fromcomplications from Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD), Diabetes, Hypertension,andCOVID.At the first sign of a fever on April 29, Roth was isolated and arapid COVID test was administeredthat returned apositive result. As symptoms developed he wasadmitted to Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus on May 1.Roth’s condition haddeteriorated over the past several daysand he had been receiving treatment in the hospital’sIntensive Care Unit.Roth, of Newark has been in DOC custody since 1999and was serving a life sentence plus 186 yearsfor 1st Degree Murder, Robbery and Conspiracy.

Peter Schellinger, 64, died from complications of Diabetes, Hypertension, Chronic Kidney Disease, Coronary Artery Disease and COVID. Schellinger was admitted to the prison infirmary andadministered a rapid COVID test which returned apositive result. On May 5, as symptoms developed, he wasadmitted to Bayhealth Hospital, Kent Campus.Schellinger had declined recommendedtreatment for a life-threateningunderlying chronic condition and wasreceiving hospice care at the time of his death. Schellinger, of Philadelphia, has been in DOC custody since 1998and was serving twolifesentences for 1st Degree Murder.

The department announcedthe number ofinmate COVID recoveries have reached 57 and that rapid COVIDtesting has identified 3 additionalpositivetest results, including COVID infections of two asymptomaticinmates.

“Throughoutour correctional system, 115 inmates have either recovered or are asymptomatic of illness, leaving only16 inmates from only onefacilitywho are currently experiencing any symptoms,” correction commissioner Claire DeMatteis said. “Across the country,even after communities successfully bend the curve by reducing new cases and growingrecoveries, they have seen thatasmall percentage of seriously ill COVIDpatients who are hospitalized withcomplications from underlying health conditions face growing odds over timethat they will not recover, even with the most responsive medical care. We are saddened bytoday’s deaths of two seriously ill inmates who had been hospitalized for several days. Medicalstaffare administeringaggressive treatment to give our fourhospitalized COVID inmate patients the best chance of recovery.”

In the past, the department has been accused of ignoring inmates who have complaints of symptoms.

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