Murder charge dropped in death of Joliet nursing home resident

Coroner: Cause of death ‘underdetermined’

William Paschall, 71, was initially charged with the first-degree murder of Michael Pappas, 61, on Nov. 17 at Salem Village Nursing and Rehabilitation, Joliet. A grand jury returned an indictment that did not affirm the first-degree murder charge.

A grand jury did not affirm a murder charge against a Joliet nursing home resident following a preliminary autopsy of the alleged victim that listed the cause of his death as “underdetermined,” court records show.

William Paschall, 71, was jailed Nov. 18 on a charge of first-degree murder in the death of Michael Pappas, 61. The charge stemmed from an altercation between the men Nov. 17 at Salem Village Nursing and Rehabilitation, 1314 Rowell Ave., Joliet, a nursing facility where the men lived.

However, a grand jury returned an indictment Thursday that charged Paschall only with the aggravated battery of Pappas. Paschall will no longer face a charge of first-degree murder.

Days before the indictment was filed, prosecutors submitted an amended court filing that included details from the Will County Coroner’s Office about the preliminary results of Pappas’ autopsy. The report listed the cause of Pappas’ death as “underdetermined,” pending the results of toxicology tests.

The Joliet Police Department had investigated Pappas’ death, and spokesman Sgt. Dwayne English referred questions about the case to the Will County State’s Attorney’s Office. Laura Byrne, a prosecutor with the office, told The Herald-News that the “matter remains under investigation and review.”

“Given this, no further information can be provided at the present time,” Byrne said.

Salem Village Nursing and Rehabilitation on Rowell Avenue in Joliet on Monday, Nov. 20, 2023, in Joliet.

Two days after Pappas’ death, Will County Coroner Laurie Summers’ office released a statement about the time and place of Pappas’ death, but the statement did not say if his death was a homicide.

Witnesses told police that Paschall allegedly yelled “Die [expletive]” during his attack on Pappas, prosecutors said. Paschall’s attack occurred after the two men had a dispute over a dirty laundry machine at Salem Village, prosecutors said.

After the attack, Pappas initially told nursing staff that he had “difficulty breathing and requested to be turned on his side,” prosecutors said. Pappas then showed “seizure-like symptoms.”

At the time Paschall was charged with murder, prosecutors submitted a petition to deny his release from jail that said Pappas was scheduled for an autopsy Nov. 19. The preliminary details of that autopsy were then revealed in an amended petition filed Dec. 1, several days before the indictment.