PHOENIX, AZ (3TV/CBS5) -- In the months before a paralyzed and mentally disabled patient was raped and gave birth at Hacienda Healthcare, staff members began noticing changes in one of the woman's male caregivers.

[VIDEO: Tip leads to arrest in Hacienda Healthcare rape case]

Arizona's Family first broke the story back in January about the female Hacienda Healthcare patient who had been raped and given birth.

[ORIGINAL EXCLUSIVE STORY: Woman in vegetative state gives birth at Hacienda Healthcare in Phoenix]

The woman had been a patient at Hacienda for at least a decade after a near-drowning incident left her in a vegetative state.

That woman gave birth to a baby boy on Dec. 29.

[SPECIAL SECTION: Hacienda HealthCare pregnancy investigation]

Former nurse Nathan Sutherland was arrested and charged with sexually assaulting the patient.

Now, new police documents reveal how the investigation led to Sutherland's arrest.

Nearly 700 pages offer new details into the investigation, including noticeable changes in Sutherland's behavior leading up to the assault.

Several co-workers told investigators that Sutherland became withdrawn and irritable. The once energetic father became unkempt – “ragged” as one coworker described it. Others described how he “let his appearance go” and seemed “mopey and down.”

One employee said Sutherland asked her to pray for him. Everyone thought his apparent depression was connected to problems with his marriage, which would eventually end in divorce.

The newly released police reports lay out how investigators built a case against Sutherland.

The documents explain that employees at the specialized healthcare facility had no idea the 29-year-old woman was pregnant.

Some caregivers observed the victim’s stomach appeared larger and distended, but the consensus at the time was that she had a tumor or growth. Word circulated the woman was ill and “might pass away soon.”

That assessment changed when stunned staff saw a baby crowning December 29.

In the days after the birth, the documents show police launched a vast campaign to collect and test DNA from male employees at Hacienda.

Every male employee became an “investigative lead.” Although an accurate count is difficult because names are redacted, police gathered samples from at least 80 men – from caregivers to security guards to the COO.

But it wasn’t DNA that initially led officers to Sutherland.

It was a tip.

The records show a parent of a patient went to police with “anonymous text messages from staff” who said they were too concerned about their jobs to come forward.

The texts said a specific male nurse, whose name is redacted, had been “acting weird lately.” The nurse admitted to staff he had done something wrong and was “shaking” when he said it, according to the paperwork.

The same day as that tip, police couldn’t reach Sutherland for an interview. Two days later, officers sent a fugitive apprehension team to his Gilbert home and reportedly found that his DNA matched the baby’s.

It was only after Sutherland’s arrest that employees began describing the changes in his behavior and appearance.

A friend told police in the months leading up to the birth, Sutherland was drinking a lot and “on the brink of committing suicide.”

Sutherland is due back in court July 16.


Copyright 2019 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.



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