Theresa Collier, a 73-year-old grandmother, found her self behind bars in Florida for slapping her granddaughter when the young girl swore at her.
Collier, a church going Irish Catholic, has never been in trouble with the law in her life.
She broke down in tears as she said “My heart’s going like this. I just thought I was going to die. I wanted to crawl in a hole.”
The 18-year-old granddaughter in question, Felicia Collier, had come over to her grandmother’s house to use the computer. Since being expelled from Catholic school in Massachusetts Felicia has been finishing up the school year online.
Collier explained the reason for Felicia’s expulsion. “She said F-off to a nun! I would just crawl into a hole, said Collier, obviously embarrassed by her granddaughter’s behavior.
While she was meant to be working on school assignments at Collier’s house Felicia’s bad language continued.
“She kept repeating the F-word to me, about the whole family. She just went on and on and I just got so upset, I got up and slapped her across the face,” said Collier. “She grabbed my wrists and I couldn’t get out of it and she let one go and she punched me in the cheek.”
The situation quickly escalated when Felicia called the police. What happened next shocked them both.
Collier said “The two officers came to each side of me and before I know it, they have my arms and they said, ‘You’re under arrest,’ and they cuffed me.”
Filled with remorse, Felicia tried to stop the police but she could not convince the officers and her grandmother was taken into custody.
Collier spent the next 24 hours in jail. She said they were the worst hours of her life.
Walter Collier, her husband said “My wife of 52 years went to Catholic Parochial school, went to church, she’s a good strong Catholic and raised four kids and no one ever spoke to her like that.”
“I think it’s ridiculous. We’re hurt so bad, I’m so scared she’s going to have a heart attack or a stroke over this. She doesn’t sleep, she bursts into tears and I’m almost doing it now.”
Though Collier’s arrest might seem quite harsh the state of Florida has a mandatory arrest policy for domestic violence calls. She has been charged with battery.
Lt. Mike Loux, with the Largo Police Department said “If an officer on scene finds probable cause to arrest a person, because they’ve committed domestic battery, then our policy is a mandatory arrest of that person.
“The discretion does not come because the victim does not want to prosecute. It doesn’t come because the victim has remorse for calling police.”
Collier’s first day in court was last Wednesday. Her granddaughter was present and attempted to sign documentation which would allow her to cancel the prosecution. This will not change her elderly grandmother’s charges.
Theresa and Walter Collier have not spoken to their granddaughter since the incident.
To further complicate things, the Colliers only live part time in Florida. The couple had planned to head home to New Hampshire next week.
Now they are unsure if this is a good idea as Theresa does not have her next date for court. Clearly a tough lady she said “What are they going to do? Send me back in.”
KATE HICKEY/Irish Central 5-4-10