An 81-year-old man charged with murder in the strangulation death of his 76-year-old girlfriend in a nursing home told an employee that she was evil and had to die, authorities said today.

John Jensen was arrested at Autumn Lake Healthcare at Bucks Hill in Waterbury.

He was originally charged with attempted murder.

Police said the victim, 76-year-old Patricia Way, died the next day at St Mary's Hospital.

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Way was in Jensen's room in the home when he walked behind her wheelchair, grabbed her scarf and strangled her, police said.

Jensen told police the two were in a relationship but had got into an argument earlier in the day and he began thinking about how to kill her, according to an arrest report.

Jensen told an employee who responded to a call for help from the suspect's roommate that "she had to die, she was evil," according to the report.

A public defender at the hearing indicated that Jensen has dementia.

He also has a criminal record dating to a 1966 conviction for bank robbery.

Nursing home staff told police that Jensen and Way would often do things together and were a couple.

-AP