BREAKING: Man wanted for elder abuse turns himself in; woman still at large
BAKERSVILLE – A Mitchell County couple is facing felony charges after law enforcement officers found a bed-ridden woman living in “cruel and unsafe” conditions, according to the warrant issued by the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office.
Frank Viola Jr., 36, who turned himself in to police this past Friday afternoon, and his, wife Brandy Danielle Tipton, 36, who remains at large, are charged with felony neglect of a disabled adult after Brandy Tipton’s mother, Anna Tipton, 66, was discovered with maggots in her hair, severely malnourished and with human feces under her fingernails and toenails.
Anna Tipton, who suffered a debilitating stroke three years ago, was discovered by Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street after an employee at Deyton Elementary School notified the Mitchell County Department of Social Services the couple’s children two hours after dismissal had not yet been picked up from school.
“When DSS is notified, an ensuing home visit is required with the accompaniment of law enforcement,” Street said.
There had been reports that Martin Robinson, a man with outstanding felony warrants in McDowell County, had been staying at the couple’s residence on Snow Creek Road. After arresting Robinson, Street said the couple fled with their two children.
Mitchell County Communication received a call around 9 p.m. Tuesday from Frank Viola Sr. who said the couple’s children had been brought to his house in Florida. Florida law enforcement and the DSS employees were notified and the children were placed in protective custody and transported back to Mitchell County.
Street said Wednesday he has “no leads” as to the couple’s whereabouts but Brandy Tipton has contacted Chief Deputy Josh Sparks via text message.
“She asked what kind of deal they could get if they turned themselves in,” Street said. “They are not getting a deal, they are going to jail whether they turn themselves in or not. They will be caught sooner or later.”
Anna Tipton was taken to the Brian Center in Spruce Pine.
Anyone with information about the location of Viola and Brandy Tipton is urged to call the Mitchell County Sheriff’s Office at 828-688-9974.
We will have more about this story as it develops and in the Wednesday, Dec. 13, edition of the Mitchell News-Journal.