SAN RAFAEL -- A 67-year-old San Jose man faces an attempted murder charge after authorities said he dosed his girlfriend with "vitamin water" spiked with chlorine while she was under care at a San Rafael nursing home.
Robert Lewis Lochbridge was booked into Marin County Jail this weekend and held on $500,000 bail after attendants at the Northgate Care Center, 40 Professional Center Parkway, became alarmed at bottles of water he had brought for an ailing 63-year-old woman who resides there.
Northgate Care Center employees called police at about 10 a.m. Friday, saying they were concerned that Lochbridge had brought in bottles of water that smelled of chlorine, as well as a portable refrigerator to store them in.
One staff member opened a bottle and "it didn't smell right," San Rafael police spokeswoman Margo Rohrbacher said. "It smelled like chlorine."
A preliminary test at the care center indicated the presence of bleach. Officer T.J. Collins took one of the bottles to a pool supply business for another test and a clerk there indicated the liquid was toxic.
"The preliminary tests indicate a level of chlorine in one bottle that was higher than you find in a swimming pool," Rohrbacher said. More tests will be conducted on samples of the water.
"He was telling her it was vitamin and mineral water to make her better," Rohrbacher said, adding the woman was instructed to drink four ounces of the concoction every hour in a
San Rafael detectives spoke with the victim, care center staff and a relative after they were contacted on Friday. "It sounds like he was trying to control her finances," Rohrbacher said, declining to elaborate on aspects of the case that remain under investigation.
Detectives contacted Lochbridge on Saturday in San Jose, and he accompanied them back to San Rafael for further talks. After a discussion in which he was "very cooperative," he was arrested at 8:45 p.m. on suspicion of attempted murder, poisoning or adulterating food and drink and cruelty to a dependent adult.
"It's pretty strange," Rohrbacher said of the case.
Care center officials were not immediately available for comment.
Lochbridge was due to be arraigned Tuesday in Marin County Superior Court.