Police: Elderly man forced to mow lawn by family members

(WTHR photo: Russ Govert)

ANDERSON, Ind. (WTHR) - An Anderson mother and her son are accused of abusing their father and grandfather.

According to court documents, the 87-year-old man was forced to mow the lawn late at night.

When a neighbor saw the grandson allegedly forcing the elderly man to mow his own lawn, that was too much.

“He was telling him it was his job and he was going to do it,” said April Crowe.

“Forcing him to mow the lawn….it’s crazy,” Crowe added.

Police arrived and launched a criminal investigation that lasted weeks. Having to mow the lawn at night, neighbors and investigators claim, was part of a much bigger pattern of abuse and neglect.

Investigators learned what neighbors had suspected.

The investigation led to the arrest of 60-year-old Celia Dyal and 40-year-old Billy Sullivan Jr.

According to court documents, the elderly man had access only to his bedroom and bathroom. Police say food was scarce. When not locked up, police say he was locked out of the house.

“They’d stay gone for hours and hours with no water or way to get back into the house,” Crowe explained.

The man’s daughter and grandson are charged with exploitation of an endangered adult, neglect of a dependent and interference with reporting a crime.

“This elderly gentlemen was being take advantage of for the money he was making,” Madison County Prosecutor Rodney Cummins said.

According the probable cause affidavit, the 87-year-old’s monthly income of nearly $3,000 was used to feed and support numerous family members.

“The money seems to be more valuable than he is to them,” Cummings said.

Crowe found the allegations disturbing.

"Yes it does,” she said, taking a long pause. “They took everything away from him, his dignity, in the last days of his life. They took everything."

According to neighbors, the man is living a new life in health care facility.

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