Reply to "Woman Jailed for Beating Husband with Frying Pan"

Pan-Wielding Wife Charged, Husband in Home

Date: Tuesday, August 25, 2009
By: Denise Stewart,

A North Carolina woman is scheduled to appear in court Wednesday on charges of assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury after she hit her husband in the head with a frying pan about 10 days ago.

Rosie Lewis, who neighbors said is now 72, had been jailed following the incident on Aug. 14, but was released last week, according to the Halifax County Sheriff Department. Her bond had been set at $2,500, according to published reports.

Lewis allegedly hit her 85-year-old husband, James, after he complained about what she made him for breakfast. She reportedly began making him a second meal, and their argument escalated, and Mr. Lewis raised his walking stick to hit her, authorities said. Mrs. Lewis responded by striking her husband several times, according to officials. Mr. Lewis required 50 stitches to mend his head.

He is now in a nursing home.

Arnette Silver, one of the Lewis’ neighbors on Justice Branch Road in the small, mostly-black town of Enfield, North Carolina described Rosie Lewis as quiet and easy-going. She has gone to spend time with relatives, Silver said.

“She didn’t want to be at the house by herself. I talked to her just the other day when she came by the house to get some of her things,” Silver told “She said she still loved her husband, and she hated the way things happened."

The elderly couple’s altercation resulted from an exchange that is not unusual for aging couples, therapists say.

“As couples age, they often are less tolerant. They are in the house together all day, and this can happen,” said Sandra Cox, executive director of Coalition of Mental Health Professionals, based in south Los Angeles.

In some situations, elderly women may see an opportunity to avenge past abuse from their once-physically domineering husbands as they grow older and get weaker.

“I am not saying that this is what happened in this particular situation,” Cox told, “but I do know of cases where a woman may have suffered abuse earlier in the marriage, and when they see the husband as more frail, they respond [more aggressively].”

Silver said both Rosie and James Lewis had been in previous marriages and had lived in the Enfield since the late 1980s or early '90s.

According to Silver, the incident on Aug. 14 may have started as early as 5:30 a.m. when Mr. Lewis wanted to go out and do yard work, and his wife discouraged him because it was still dark.

“He always wanted to be busy,” Silver said. "He is a deacon in the church, and he likes doing work around the house."

On the morning of the incident, Silver said, Rosie Lewis told him she had fixed breakfast for her husband twice, and he complained about both. They exchanged words, and “he came at her with the cane. I guess that’s when the frying pan went airborne,” Silver said. “She said she had to defend herself.”

Halifax County officials said Rosie Lewis was freed from jail on a $2,500 unsecured bond.

“Forty-eight hours (incarceration) is a general rule for any domestic violence charge,” Lt. Bobby Martin of the Halifax County Sheriff’s Office said in an article published in the Rocky Mount (N.C.) Telegram. “I imagine she was released on an unsecured bond because of her age and health.”

Original reports that Lewis would be held until her first court appearance due a state law intended to protect victims of domestic abuse from further violence were incorrect, Martin said in the Rocky Mount Telegram article.

Cox said families have to assist elderly couples in assessing issues that lead to altercations.

“Sometimes there may be underlying physical conditions or illnesses that play a role in the problem,” she said. There may also be an issue with chemical imbalance in the brain or Alzheimer’s, she said.

It’s important for family members to encourage the elderly to take care of their physical and psychological problems. But it’s not easy.

The stigma attached to mental illness too often prevents people from getting the help they need, Cox said. “You know the first thing they say is, ‘I’m not crazy.’ ”