Friday, October 31, 2014

Arrest Made In Elder Abuse Investigation


On October 30, 2014 the Levy County Sheriff’s Office arrested Michael Hancock (26 yoa) on one count of Aggravated Manslaughter of an Elderly Person.  Hancock is being held at the Levy County Detention Center on a five million dollar bond. 

The arrest was made after a lengthy investigation that began on July 10, 2014.  On that date Hancock called 911 to report that the 96 year old Victim, Helen Bishop, was unresponsive.  He informed responding deputies that Mrs. Bishop had died naturally at his home and she had previously signed a “Do Not Resucitate” (DNR) request.   Deputies learned that Hancock had been providing 24 hour care for the Victim, along with Katherine Bowker (24) and Katelyn Allen (23).  The Victim had been staying with Hancock, Bowker and Allen at a residence on SW 67th Place near Cedar Key. 

The responding deputies noticed some bruising on the Victim’s body but did not observe obvious signs of foul play.  The following day during funeral preparations, the funeral director observed other potential signs of elder abuse.  After interviewing the funeral director, LCSO Investigators requested that the Medical Examiner’s Office conduct an autopsy in order to more accurately determine the cause and manner of the Victim’s death. 

On October 24, 2014, LCSO Investigators were informed by personnel from the Medical Examiner’s Office that the autopsy had revealed that the Victim was found to have suffered a “bilateral fracture of the Hyoid bone,” a fracture of the calcified membrane around the thyroid gland, multiple rib fractures and a fractured collar bone.  It was the Medical Examiner’s opinion that Mrs. Bishop could have been the victim of a homicide. 

On October 30, 2014, Investigators from the LCSO Criminal Investigations Division re-interviewed Hancock, Bowker and Allen regarding the autopsy findings.  During the interview, Hancock admitted that on the date of the Victim’s death he had become very frustrated with her because she had soiled herself.  While Hancock and Bowker attempted to bathe the Victim in the shower, Hancock became even more frustrated when Mrs. Bishop physically resisted being bathed.  Bowker left the bathroom for a period of time. 

During Bowker’s absence, Hancock admitted grabbing the Victim by the neck to try to get her attention.  He stated that he probably squeezed her neck harder than he should have and held it for approximately 2 minutes.  After releasing his grip on the Victim’s neck, she became unresponsive.  Hancock had to physically lift Mrs. Bishop from the shower to her wheel chair. 

Investigators believe that Hancock broke the Victim’s hyoid bone when he grabbed and squeezed her throat.  They also believe Hancock broke the Victim’s collar bone when he lifted her out of the shower.  No charges have been filed against Allen or Bowker at this time.  The evidence indicates that Allen was not present in the home during the incident.  Investigators believe that Bowker was outside the bathroom when Hancock grabbed the Victim by the throat and played no part in causing the Victim’s death.

LCSO is awaiting the final autopsy report and the investigation will remain open until it is received.