Elderly man arrested for walking wife with a dog leash around her neck because she has late-stage dementia
Police officers were informed that Walter Wolford was leading his wife, Catherine, by the neck around the grounds of York Fair on September 15 with a red nylon dog leash
Authorities have stated that a man from Pennsylvania was arrested at a fair after he was seen using a dog leash to walk his late-stage dementia-suffering wife. Walter William Wolford Sr., a 66-year-old from Hagerstown, has been charged with one count of simple assault after a witness at the York Fair on September 15 informed police officers about the elderly man leading his wife, Catherine, by the neck around the grounds with a red nylon dog leash. The leash was reportedly about eight feet long. The charging documents stated that at one point of time at the fair, Wolford was seen pulling on the leash which caused his wife's head to "move backward and for her to sustain red marks around her throat area".
The responding officers noted that Catherine's condition was bad when medical personnel at the fair were treating her.
A report by the West Manchester Township Police stated: "She was very disoriented, did not know where she was, her own name, and spoke in gibberish." The York Daily Record reported that Wolford told authorities that he had taken Catherine to the fair last year without a leash and she had wandered off so that's why he came up with the idea of the leash to restrain her.
DEVELOPING: Maryland man accused of walking wife with advanced staged dementia with a “dog-style” leash at York Fair in PA.— George Solis (@GeorgeSolisWJZ) September 18, 2018
According to charging docs obtained by @wjz Walter Winford says he did it to keep her from wandering off. pic.twitter.com/kK0WuKoZBo
One of the officers who responded to the scene said: "Walter told me that he originally placed the leash around her waist, but somehow it had moved up around her neck and when she walked away from him and all of the slack became taut, he 'gently tugged on the leash so she would stop'."
Wolford told officers that his wife suffers from late-stage dementia and that a doctor had given her two years to live around five years ago. He also told them that Catherine was not taking her medication anymore because "they don’t make any medication that works for that".
Investigators have been in touch with Walter Wolford Jr., Wolford's son, who told authorities that his father was not an abusive husband. According to reports, he was released from custody after posting a $5,000 unsecured bail. Records showed that he is due to appear in court again on October 18. Wolford still maintained that he never meant to cause any harm to his wife.
He told the New York Post in an interview on Wednesday: "I really don’t know what I did wrong. I was trying to keep track of my wife. She is three times faster than I am. That’s part of her dementia — she simply runs away." Wolford referred to the use of the leash on Catherine at the fair on September 15 and said this was not the first time he had used it on her.
He said: "The first time, she didn’t like it so I didn’t do it again. But then six months later, I tried it on her at a carnival and it worked OK. This was the third time and I was just trying to keep her from running away from me. That’s all."
The elderly man insisted that he is not a "monster" as some witnesses at the fair claimed him to be. He said: "I don’t really like using it but it was either that or not take her. I love my wife more than anything in the world but it’s very difficult to take care of someone with severe dementia. They’re making me out to be a monster, but hurting my wife is the last thing I wanted to do."