ROSSVILLE (WRCB) - Police say a Rossville woman treated her elderly mother as a hostage for more than eight months, physically abusing and threatening her until detectives, family members, and Adult Protective Services could intervene.
"It's got me scared now," says Betty Strickland, 67. "I had to pray every day in my bedroom 'God, get me out of here. Get somebody to get me out of here. I'm tired of being hit."
Her daughter, Ruth Marie Strickland, who also goes by Ruthie Jackson and Ruthie Gray, 38, is in the Walker County Jail on charges of battery and false imprisonment, according to Rossville Police Detective David Scroggins.
"She's (Betty Strickland) been abused and neglected, " Betty's daughter, and Ruthie's sister, Dorothy 'Dot' Bledsoe says.
"She (Ruthie) hit me here (under the eyes) before, then hit me in the nose before, made it bleed." Betty says.
"My mother has no Social Security checks," Bledsoe says. "They've taken all her money, put it on a debit card and spent it all."
Police say Betty Strickland granted Ruthie power of attorney shortly after she became a widow last year. Ruthie moved her mother into a duplex on Lee Avenue that she shared with her boyfriend.
"She wouldn't let any of us see our Mother," Bledsoe says. "When we tried to talk to her, Mama would tell us to leave her alone."
"She (Ruthie) would punch me if I had said anything else," Betty says.
Things came to a head earlier this month, Bledsoe says, when Ruthie refused to allow her mother to visit her son Kenneth Strickland, in the hospital, nor would she let her mother attend his funeral several days later.
"Ruthie had taken a picture of Mama that she'd sent to Mama's older sister," Bledsoe says.
That prompted a 'welfare visit' by police, and Adult Protective Services last Thursday, Det. Scroggins says.
An ambulance took Betty to Hutchinson Medical Center for twelve hours' observation. She's been with daughter Dorothy since.
Ruthie's boyfriend refused comment when an Eyewitness News crew dropped by the Lee Avenue duplex late Tuesday morning. He ordered the crew to leave.
Shortly thereafter, Rossville Police issued warrants for Ruthie's arrest. Officers took her into custody late Tuesday afternoon, Det. Scroggins says
"My mother will never go through his again," Bledsoe says, sobbing. "Nobody will get to do, what they did to her!"