UPDATE: Couple wanted for elder abuse now in custody
BAKERSVILLE – A Mitchell County couple facing felony charges who fled from police is now in custody.
Frank Viola Jr., 36, and his, wife Brandy Danielle Tipton, 36, were charged Dec. 1 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.
Viola turned himself into authorities Friday, Dec. 8, and told police he did not know his wife’s whereabouts. Brandy Tipton was found Saturday, Dec. 9, at 3929 Snow Creek Road in Bakersville after deputies received a report of someone being around the residence. Mitchell County Sheriff’s Deputy Phil Caudill tracked the person’s footprints in the snow and found Brandy Tipton, who had entered the house by crawling through a window.
The two fled after Anna Tipton, who suffered a debilitating stroke three years ago, was discovered by Mitchell County Sheriff Donald Street. 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 home in Florida. Florida law enforcement and DSS employees were notified and the children were placed in protective custody and transported back to Mitchell County.
Street said this past Wednesday he had “no leads” as to the couple’s whereabouts but Brandy Tipton had 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.”
Anna Tipton was taken to the Brian Center in Spruce Pine.
Viola and Brandy Tipton are being held on $40,000 bonds. She is scheduled to appear in court Monday, Dec. 13, and he is scheduled to appear Tuesday, Jan. 16.