Elderly Florida woman beat husband, 89, to death with cane, police say

An elderly Florida woman has been charged with bludgeoning her 89-year-old husband to death Saturday with a walking cane.

Ramona Maxine Lund, 86, of Pace, was arrested and charged with manslaughter after paramedics and officers who went to the couple’s home on a call for a medical emergency determined the house was the scene of a crime, authorities said. Francis Joseph Lund was found lying dead on the front porch, covered with blood.

"All evidence at the scene indicated homicide," Santa Rosa County Sheriff Bob Johnson said Monday at a news conference. "The murder weapon was a cane that was still at the scene."

Francis Lund had suffered blunt force trauma to the head, Johnson said. An autopsy was scheduled to be performed Monday.

The sheriff said Ramona Lund is the oldest person the Sheriff’s Office has ever charged with a killing.

"We're dealing probably with someone's grandmother now," Johnson said. "It's not something that happens every day."

The Pensacola News Journal reported that Ramona Lund's arrest report indicated a neighbor spotted Francis Lund lying on the front porch and Ramona Lund standing over him. The neighbor thought the elderly man had fallen and his wife was trying to help him up.

This 2013 Street View image shows the home at 5438 Jenny Circle in Pace, Florida, where Francis Joseph Lund, 89, was bludgeoned to death with a cane. Lund's wife, Ramona Maxine Lund, 86, was arrested Saturday, Jan. 5, 2019, and charged with manslaughter in his death.

Credit: Google

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Credit: Google

The neighbor ran over and asked Ramona Lund to call 911, but she told him she couldn't find her phone, the News Journal reported. The neighbor ran home and got his cellphone, with which he called 911.

The neighbor tried to resuscitate Francis Lund while awaiting paramedics, the arrest report said.

Inside the house, investigators found bloody pieces of a cane on the couch and in a bucket by the door, the News Journal reported. A bloody nightgown was draped over an arm of the couch and Ramona Lund had blood on her hands and feet, the report said.

Ramona Lund is being held in lieu of $250,000 bond in the Santa Rosa County Jail’s infirmary. Both Johnson and William Eddins, state attorney for the 1st Judicial District of Florida, said initial observations of the defendant indicate that she may suffer from dementia.

"Based on observations of my investigators, as well as other personnel, when you interact with her on a personal level, when you ask her questions … it's clear that she's confused," Johnson said. "It's important that, while we are going to focus on the mental confusion and that aspect, it is important to remember and be reminded that she is charged with a very serious crime that resulted in the loss of a human life."

Eddins’ office has collaborated with the public defender’s office to get an expedited mental competency evaluation to determine if Lund is competent to stand trial.

"It is clear to my office that there is significant confusion on the part of the defendant," Eddins said.

The prosecutor said it was unusual for the state’s attorney to work with the defense for an evaluation.

"I have an obligation to seek justice, and it became clear to me and my office that this woman has significant indications of confusion, and I felt it was incumbent on my office to take an unusual approach," Eddins said.

Bruce Miller, the public defender representing Ramona Lund, told the News Journal that typically, a person found mentally incompetent to stand trial can be treated in a psychiatric hospital and, eventually, found competent to aid in their defense. For defendants with dementia, that is not the case.

"If someone suffers from dementia, they are not going to become competent," Miller said. "They are going to stay that way."