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Elderly Couple Charged With Leaving Mother Without Heat

April 4, 1993

BREVARD, N.C. (AP) _ An elderly couple was charged with assault for allegedly leaving the wife’s 96-year-old mother in an unheated house during last month’s blizzard, causing her to lose both her feet to frostbite.

Betty Fogarty, 75, and her husband, Arnold Fogarty, 79, of the mountain retirement community of Connestee Falls, were arrested Friday and released on $10,000 bond, authorities said.

The couple each face a charge of felony assault on a handicapped person and a misdemeanor charge of failure to support a parent.

Mrs. Fogarty’s mother, Emily Harring Jones, underwent a double amputation at Transylvania Community Hospital and is recovering at a local nursing home, said Detective Keith Fisher of the county sheriff’s department.

An investigation began March 18 after a home health care worker discovered Ms. Jones suffering from frostbite in the house she shared with her daughter and son-in-law, Fisher said.

Authorities said she was left in the house during the previous weekend’s blizzard. Electric service to the home went out March 12 and was restored three days later.

In a telephone interview Saturday night, Fogarty said his mother-in-law refused to leave the house when they went to a neighbor’s dwelling that had heat.

″We hope to have this straightened out,″ he said. ″She didn’t want to go anywhere. We tried to get her to leave.″

A neighbor, Tom McGohey, said Fogarty told him Ms. Jones was left in front of the fireplace, bundled in blankets and pairs of socks.

Fisher called the case ″pitiful″ and said the sheriff’s department has rarely filed such charges.

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