Baltimore County police released into the custody of her daughter an 83-year-old Rosedale woman who reportedly struck her ailing and despondent husband with a hammer yesterday in an apparent attempt at a mercy killing.
Annie Bond returned to her home in the 5700 block of Cynthia Terrace in the company of her daughter while her husband, Harry P. Bond, 83, remained in stable condition at Franklin
Square Hospital Center. Hospital officials said his injuries were not serious.
Mrs. Bond will not face prosecution.
"We didn't see the point in charging her," said Assistant State's Attorney Ann Bropst. She said her office considers this a family matter and not a criminal one.
Police and social services officials said the couple should not continue living alone, and they said they would put them in touch with appropriate agencies.
Authorities and neighbors said the incident was probably a result of Mr. Bond's despair over a stroke last month that drained his strength and made him dependent on a walker after a long and active retirement.
Police Sgt. Robert Jones, who interviewed Mrs. Bond, said the incident occurred about 3 a.m. yesterday after Mr. Bond had talked repeatedly about ending his life. He said that Mrs. Bond had struck her husband on the head several times with a hammer, but "just didn't have the strength" to inflict injury beyond a minor cut. Mr. Bond remained conscious and the couple talked for about three hours before Mrs. Bond called 911, police said.
Mrs. Bond was taken to the White Marsh precinct where she was interviewed by police. Sergeant Jones said she appeared to be in a state of semi-shock, and investigators were convinced that she had acted out of concern for her husband and "just didn't want him to suffer."
She was released to her daughter, who lives in Reading, Pa., and they had returned to the couple's home by midday yesterday.
Neighbors on the quiet street of two-story brick Cape Cod houses with well-tended beds of geraniums and tomatoes said that, despite their advanced years, the Bonds had maintained an active schedule until Mr. Bond had the stroke in mid-July. He returned home from the hospital about 10 days ago.
Until then, Mr. Bond had driven to his weekly bowling league in Brunswick. Last fall, he went squirrel hunting with neighbor Ed Bertrand, 68.
"They were a pair; everything they did, they did it together," said neighbor Margaret Wood, 70. "When he went bowling she went to cheer him on." But the stroke apparently caused severe depression.
"He was just lifeless," said Mr. Bertrand, who visited the couple Tuesday. "She [Mrs. Bond] said he wouldn't eat at all."
Neighbors, many of whom are also elderly, were visibly upset.
"It just makes me feel real bad to think something like this would happen to him," said one man who lives two doors away.
While not common, cases of mercy killings or attempts crop up from time to time, particularly in areas where there are large elderly populations, authorities said. Baltimore County has the largest proportion of elderly of any jurisdiction in the Baltimore metropolitan area.
Dr. Philip Pushkin, director of the county Department of Aging, said that senior citizens with ailing spouses can call his office for help. He said the department will send an outreach specialist to determine the problem and then call the proper agencies.
In a case such as this one, he said, the county Mental Health Bureau would probably have sent a psychiatrist, a social worker and a nurse to deal with the situation.