MINEOLA, N.Y. – The adult son of a national mattress retailer accused of murdering his mother had argued with her the night before she was found dead inside her Long Island home, a homicide detective said Thursday.
Lt. John Azzata, chief of the Nassau County homicide squad, declined to say what the argument was about and said detectives were still investigating what preceded Kay Barragan's killing.
A handyman who worked for the family found the 65-year-old woman's body at about 7:20 a.m. Wednesday at the bottom of a staircase, police said.
The Medical Examiner's Office determined that Barragan bled to death as a result of multiple blunt force trauma, according to police.
Eduardo Barragan, 39, who lived with his mother, was arrested a short time later and charged with murder. A spokesman for his father's company said he had mental health issues and a sister told a newspaper he was schizophrenic.
Barragan's arraignment has yet to be scheduled because he was hospitalized with heart palpitations shortly after his arrest, Azzata said. A spokesman for District Attorney Kathleen Rice said a decision on when to schedule the arraignment would be made in consultation with hospital doctors.
Andrew Monteleone, an attorney for Barragan, declined to comment on the accusations.
Kay Barragan was credited with taking $2,000 earned from selling Avon products in Queens and lending the money to her now-estranged husband, Napoleon Barragan, to start Dial-A-Mattress in 1976. She had also worked for the company in its early years.
1-800-Mattres was famous in the New York metro area and beyond for its ads with the popular slogan "leave off the last S for savings."
The privately held company, based in Queens, has had annual sales of more than $100 million. It was renamed 1800mattress.com in 1996 to reflect its growth online.
In March, the company filed for Chapter 11 reorganization in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Brooklyn. A number of creditors, including mattress retailer Sleepy's, have expressed interest in bidding on the company's assets. The court has set a May 28 auction date.
Company spokesman Stan Steinreich recalled Kay Barragan as proud of the company she helped found and "very supportive of her family, especially her four children, that was very important to her."
The spokesman had no comment on Eduardo Barragan's arrest but said he "had been treated for a number of mental illnesses over the years." Eduardo's sister, Kay Otilia Massel, 42, of Santa Rosa, Calif., told the New York Daily News her brother was "a good man who has suffered for 19 years with schizophrenia."
Azzata said police had been called to the Barragan home four times in the past 45 days, but would only describe the calls as "minor in nature." He said one call concerned a complaint about a larceny, but said detectives were still investigating the other calls.
He said Eduardo Barragan had no prior arrest record.
Kay Barragan was born on Dec. 5, 1943, in Guayaquil, Ecuador, and emigrated with her husband to New York City from Bogota, Colombia, in 1969.