Elderly victim says son tied her to riding mower, threatened her with chainsaw
By David Gambino
For the Enquirer
An elderly victim told Morgan County Sheriff’s Office deputies that her son pulled her across the yard using a rope attached to a riding mower and threatened her with a chainsaw, among other abuse, according to an investigator affidavit filed in district court Tuesday.
Phillip Glenn Brennan, 29, of Hartselle, is charged with second-degree elder abuse and third-degree domestic violence.
On Monday, deputies found the victim sitting outside in the pouring rain next to her garden in the 400 block of Tapscott Road in Hartselle after she used her home alarm system to call for help, according to the affidavit.
EMS was called after deputies said they observed a red mark under the victim’s right eye, grass stains on the back of her shirt, leaves in her hair, and abrasions and bruising on her right ankle.
Deputies questioned the victim’s son, Brennan, who said that he had become angry at the victim and threw her keys near a wooded area, according to the affidavit.
Deputies said Brennan told them that he had grabbed the victim by the ankles and attempted to drag her back to the house.
Brennan told deputies that “he didn’t like her bothering him while he was trying to clean up around the place,” according to the affidavit.
Deputies then detained Brennan and EMS arrived on scene. The victim declined further medical treatment.
The victim said Brennan had snapped after she asked him to clean up the yard: He “told her that he was going to get the chainsaw to harm her,” according to the affidavit.
The victim told deputies that Brennan then struck her twice in the head with a shovel and tried to run over her feet with a red push mower.
She then locked herself inside the house, but Brennan took a window screen off the front of the house and crawled inside, she said.
The victim said she went back outside and tried to make it to her neighbors, but Brennan “ran her down and attempted to wrap a blue/white rope around her legs … (he) wrapped the rope around the yellow Cub Cadet lawn mower and pulled her across the yard about 50-75 feet,” according to the affidavit.
The victim was able to call for help using her ADT key fob before Brennan took the keys and threw them.
She said that Brennan threatened to tie her to a bed, and when she tried to yell for help from neighbors and a mailman, he covered her mouth with his hands, according to the affidavit.
The victim said Brennan had “become more violent than usual.”
Brennan remained in Morgan County Jail on Wednesday in lieu of a $20,300 bond, jail records show.
He made his initial appearance in district court Wednesday afternoon via teleconference before Judge Shelly Waters.
When asked about his finances regarding an Affidavit of Substantial Hardship form, Brennan told Waters that his mother holds power of attorney and controls his checking account.
He was assigned Brian White as his defense counsel.
Elder abuse in Morgan County
According to the Alabama Department of Human Resources (DHR), thousands of elderly and disabled adults are abused, neglected and exploited in Alabama every year.
Lanie Alexander, director of Morgan County DHR, said DHR received 12,033 adult abuse reports statewide in 2022. There were 11,122 such reports in 2021, according to Alabama DHR’s website.
Alexander said elder abuse is “absolutely growing” in Morgan County.
DHR’s Adult Protective Services Division covers both elderly adults that have become incapacitated in some form, as well as younger adults that have developmental disabilities.
“We average 30 per month of new adult/abuse/exploitation investigations,” Alexander said. “That number has definitely increased over the last 10 years. There used to not be nearly that many reported.”
According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 18.5% of Morgan County residents are 65 years old or above.
Alexander said elderly adults are at increased risk of abuse and neglect, and that her department sees elder abuse involving family members “all the time.”
In some cases, she said, the abuse or neglect is a result of adult children refusing to seek proper care for elderly family members in the household due to finances.
In other cases, the abuse can be more nefarious.
“Dementia and Alzheimer’s are horrible diseases and really change how elderly parents experience the world,” Alexander said. “Therefore, it changes how their caretakers experience the world. It’s important to be able to have the right resources to take care of (elderly parents) so that caretakers aren’t stressed out and make bad decisions.”