Man gains custody of ill mother with judge's OK this time Kidnapping charges in case dropped

April 19, 1996|By Kate Shatzkin | Kate Shatzkin,SUN STAFF

A 69-year-old Baltimore man who was charged with kidnapping his 86-year-old mother took her home again yesterday -- this time legally.

Baltimore Circuit Judge Albert J. Matricciani Jr. yesterday gave Roy F. Carraher custody of his mother, Shirley Ann Dalton, through June 4 after Mrs. Dalton said she wanted to live with her son. The judge said he will hold another hearing to determine the best place for Mrs. Dalton to live for the long term.

It was the latest development in a dispute over who should care for Mrs. Dalton, who has Alzheimer's disease.

The Baltimore Commission on Aging and Retirement Education has been Mrs. Dalton's guardian since 1993, when Mr. Carraher of the 2800 block of Montebello Terrace and his sister, June Matricciani, battled each other in court over their mother's care.

Ms. Matricciani formerly was married to a relative of the judge, who said he did not recall meeting her. She said she did not object to his hearing the case.

The commission placed Mrs. Dalton with various family members until last month, when she was placed with a Dundalk woman.

When Mrs. Dalton was found wandering in the rain in Dundalk, she gave Baltimore County police Mr. Carraher's name and phone number, and police let him take her with him.

Mr. Carraher was arrested by Baltimore County police April 2 after his mother's caretaker reported her missing and he refused to tell police where she was. He told police his mother did not like where she had been placed.

Mr. Carraher was charged with kidnapping, false imprisonment and making false statements to police.

Prosecutors dismissed the charges Wednesday, Baltimore County Assistant State's Attorney S. Ann Brobst said.

Mr. Carraher said yesterday he felt vindicated by the judge's temporary decision. "My mother has had her medication every day since she's been with me," he said. "I want what's best for her."

"We all do, sir," the judge replied.

Ms. Matricciani opposed the judge's decision, saying Mr. Carraher had been a poor caretaker. "Every time I turned around, she was in the hospital," Ms. Matricciani said. "She never had her medication and she was dirty."

Her mother looked cleaner and had cut her smoking from three packs to 10 cigarettes a day after living at the home where she was placed after Mr. Carraher was arrested, Ms. Matricciani said.

For her part, Mrs. Dalton said she did not want to accompany social workers back to the home where she had been staying, even to wait for the judge's order to be typed and signed.

"I'm going to go with him," she told the workers, pointing to her son. "That's my last word on that. When I'm with him, I'm going to fight to stay with him."

The judge ordered that Mrs. Dalton be taken to her daughter's house for weekly visits and that she be evaluated independently each week.

He also ordered Mr. Carraher not to direct "abusive language" at nurses or social workers carrying out the evaluations and said that if significant violation of the order occurred, he would move Mrs. Dalton.

Commission staff members declined to comment on the specifics of Mrs. Dalton's case. "It's unfortunate that we're all here," said Neetu Dhawan-Gray, executive director of the commission, who attended the hearing.

Asked how she felt about what the judge did, Mrs. Dalton said, "Honey, I couldn't hear him too good."

But she said she was happy to be going home with her son.

"That's my baby," she said. "Naturally, I'm happy when I'm with him."

Pub Date: 4/19/96

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