Cover Story: Mental Patient Beaten to Death in West Oaks Hospital

Mario Vidaurre never attracted much good attention in his 41 years of life – at least not after his teenage years when he was a featherweight boxing champ in Louisiana.

He had a family who loved him, but that wasn’t able to keep up with his increasing insanities due to his “schizophrenia with aggressive tendencies.” Hospitalized several times, he bounced from facility to facility, prescribed a number of different medications along the way.

When he died he was a physically healthy man. He was beaten to death. But that death, in a private psychiatric hospital in Houston, passed unnoticed. Google his name and you’ll come up with nothing.

And it would have stayed that way except that his brother Chazz Vidaurre, feeling guilty that he had not taken Mario out of Texas West Oaks Hospital when his younger brother asked him to, wouldn’t let it go. There was a criminal case, and when Mario’s assailant was no-billed in that one, then Chazz went to Advocacy Inc., a nonprofit that advocates for people with disabilities. He pursued civil action as well.

As it turns out, the state of Texas investigated his death and thanks to an Open Records request, the Houston Press found out that those investigators say West Oaks is to blame for Mario’s death.

It sounds like the lead in to a joke, except it’s not funny. A man walks into a mental hospital and four days later he’s dead at the hands of the caregiver designed to protect him. Read about it in “Death In a Box” in this week’s Houston Press. – Margaret Downing

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