An 86-year-old Florida woman is facing a murder charge after authorities allege she beat her elderly husband to death with a cane.
On Saturday, when a neighbor of Ramona Maxine Lund saw her standing over her husband’s bloodied body on the couple’s front porch in Pace, he was sure the man, 89-year-old Francis Lund, had taken a bad fall and his wife was unable to help him.
The neighbor, who has not been identified, told authorities who later arrived at the scene that he encouraged Ramona Lund to call 911, but she claimed she couldn’t find her phone. He quickly ran home to get his phone and call authorities before performing CPR on Francis Lund’s lifeless body, the Pensacola News Journal reported, citing an arrest report.
But when police arrived at the home, they determined it wasn’t a fall that caused the 89-year-old’s death. Rather, they allege, his wife beat him to death with a walking cane.
When investigators looked inside the couple’s home, they found pieces of the cane — which were covered in blood, according to the newspaper — scattered around the house. Parts were on the sofa while other pieces were found in a bucket near the front door. Ramona Lund’s hands and feet were reportedly covered in blood and a blood-soaked nightgown was draped on the arm of the couch.
Though a formal autopsy has yet to be conducted — it’s scheduled for Monday — an investigator on the scene allegedly said the man’s injuries “were consistent with having been beaten by a cane,” the arrest report said, according to the News Journal. Francis Lund also reportedly had “bruises and indentations in and about” his head.
Ramona Lund was subsequently charged with murder and is being held in Santa Rosa County Jail on a $250,000 bond, public records show.
"We're dealing probably with someone's grandmother now," Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said at a Monday news conference, according to the News Journal. "It's not something that happens every day.”
The 86-year-old is slated to undergo a mental evaluation before she makes her first court appearance, Johnson said, as she appeared “confused” when officials with the sheriff’s office and state attorney's office spoke with her. She reportedly did not know where she was or what time it was.
"Based on observations of my investigators, as well as other personnel, when you interact with her on a personal level, when you ask her questions, it's clear that she's confused," Johnson said. "It's important that, while we are going to focus on the mental confusion and that aspect, it's important to remember and be reminded that she is charged with a very serious crime that has resulted in the loss of a human life."
State Attorney Bill Eddins said it was “unusual” for the state to seek a mental competency evaluation, but noted it is important in this case because “it became clear to me and my office that this woman had significant indications of confusion, and I felt it was important to my office to take an unusual approach."
It’s not yet clear if or what mental condition Ramona Lund may suffer from, though officials suspect it could be dementia.
“If someone suffers from dementia, they are not going to become competent, they are going to stay that way,” Public Defender Bruce Miller, who is representing the woman, said, according to the News Journal.
Ramona Lund is currently being treated in the jail’s infirmary.