Family members charged in elderly woman's death

Family members charged in elderly woman's death
By: CJ Cassidy

Wappapello, Mo. - Prosecutors charge an entire family in the death of 63-year-old Eula Mae Hendon, of Wayne County. Police say Hendon had a stroke a week to a couple of weeks before her death, but never made it to the hospital, even though she was living with her family.

At the time of her arrest, the victim's daughter told police she thought she could take care of her mother. Now her husband stands up for Theresa Cespedes, saying she loved her mother very much and would never intentionally hurt her.

Jose Cespedes says in hindsight, maybe his wife should have taken her mother to the hospital, but she may have just made a mistake. Holding several urns containing Hendon's ashes, he questions why she would keep them if she didn't care about her mother.

Theresa Cespedes faces second degree murder, felonious restraint and elder abuse charges. Her two sons and daughter face elder abuse charges, as well, after emergency responders found their grandmother dead in a chair at their home in January 2006.

"Hendon was unable to use parts of her body, after her stroke. They neglected to get medical help, and when we asked why they didn't call ambulance service, there was no good reason other than she thought she could take care of her herself," Wayne County Sheriff Phillip Burton says.
Investigators paint a grim picture. They found vomit on Hendon's bed, and blood on her head. Besides urinating on herself, investigators also say Hendon had bugs crawling on her face and head.

An autopsy report also reveals Hendon was dehydrated and starving. Still Jose Cespedes has a different explanation. "She not like to eat a lot; she like to smoke a lot and drink coffee. That's why she's so skinny," he says.

Cespedes also claims his sons are mentally disabled and prays a court finds them innocent of the charges against them. Police say Theresa told them she didn't want to take care of her mother and children anymore; but her husband says she might have just been overwhelmed with everything.

Court documents indicate Theresa collected Eula Hendon's social security check every month, and Jose Cespedes says that money went towards taking care of her mother's needs.
He also tells Heartland News h e plans on asking his daughter to turn herself into police when he talks with her.