A Kissimmee, Florida, couple accused of neglecting and abusing the husband's 81-year-old mother have been arrested. They both allegedly abused the woman and neglected her by means of not seeking immediate help for her injuries.
Raymond Sutherland, 56, has been charged with neglect and aggravated abuse of an elderly person, battery on a person over 65 years of age, as well as aggravated battery of a person over 65 years of age, WESH reports. His wife, 54-year-old Debbie Sutherland, also has been charged with one count of battery on a person over 65 years of age.
The couple was arrested on Oct. 13. The 81-year-old victim is Raymond's mother and Debbie's mother-in-law.
In mid-September, while recovering from injuries at a Kissimmee rehabilitation center, the elderly mother first told deputy officials about the alleged abuse she suffered at the hands of her son and his wife.
"Detectives determined the son and daughter-in-law who were supposed to be caring for her actually battered her and did not provide the care she needed," Twis Lizasuain, spokeswoman of the Osceola County Sheriff's Office, told WESH.
Raymond pushed his mother down last month inside the home that they share and then waited to get help, according to investigators. The victim reportedly lost consciousness and later woke up in a pool of blood.
"After some time, the son called for medical assistance and she was taken to the hospital," Lizasuain said.
Although the victim originally denied being abused, doctors determined that the woman's injuries were not typical of those of a fall. It appeared that she had been injured by her caregivers. Deputy officials say that Raymond initially denied abusing his mother but then said he takes medication that causes him to black out, so he wasn't sure.
Neighbors said that they would have been willing to help with the elderly woman's care if they thought the couple was overwhelmed.
"I'm a nurse and I do hospice work, and had I thought something was going on, I would have helped them without a second thought," Debbie Guldenshuh, a neighbor and local nurse, told WESH.
Felony warrants were issued for the couple's arrest on Oct. 12, and they were booked into jail the following day. Raymond's bond is $400,000, according to the Orlando Sentinel. Debbie is being held without bond.
The elderly woman is reportedly in critical condition and being treated at a rehabilitation center.