Vermont State police crime scene crews worked through the night at Gertrudes Alwardt's home in Poultney, trying to figure out how the 80-year-old died.
"We've been working around the clock, as you can probably tell. There's been a trooper on the scene ever since this all started. That's really where we are right now," Vt. State Police Lt. Tim Oliver said.
Police say Alwardt's son, Roderick Geronimo, 49, called 911 to report his mother had slipped and fallen, which wasn't unusual as the woman was suffering from cancer and arthritis and has needed medical attention before. But at the hospital, Geronimo told police "I think I killed my mother." He was later arrested on a charge of second-degree murder.
"He told us how he did it and we're matching that up with the evidence at the scene," Oliver said.
Court papers state Alwardt was sitting at her kitchen table Monday afternoon, when Geronimo pushed the table into her chest several times, pinning her against the kitchen sink, and then struck her over the head several times with glass bottles. Autopsy results say she died of multiple skull fractures.
Despite confessing to police Monday, in court Tuesday Geronimo pleaded not guilty. State's attorneys ordered a psychiatric evaluation after his arrest, but at his public defender's direction, he refused to answer any questions from the screener.
"Per the evaluation I was unable to come up with any conclusion. But based on the affidavit it would suggest there was some sort of mental illness," said A.J. Shaw, the screener.
In the affidavit, Geronimo states he hears voices, and that he killed his mother because she is evil and God told him to do it.
Neighbors say Geronimo moved in with his mother a few years ago and is her sole caretaker.
"I'm not sure how many people otherwise came in to help," said Linda Knowlton, a neighbor.
And maybe, she says, it was too much for Geronimo to bear.
"I think, you know, if you're doing 24-hour care duty, you know, that's very difficult," she said. "So I can certainly understand if people can't continue on like that."
Knowlton says it was sudden shock to an otherwise quiet street.
Geronimo is being held without bail, pending a hearing next week.
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