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Judge horrified by allegations of son beating his mother in Merrimack

Union Leader Correspondent

November 26. 2012 10:33PM
Police remain at the scene of a serious assault at Pondview Drive in Merrimack on Monday. (KIMBERLY HOUGHTON PHOTO)

MERRIMACK - A Nashua man with a history of mental health issues is under arrest for beating his mother so severely it left her with a ruptured eye socket, severed ear and major head laceration.

Police said Thomas Foden, 39, took a cab to his mother's 50 Pondview Drive residence in Merrimack Sunday night, forced his way in and attacked her.

Alicia J. Flanders, 66, was found by police covered in blood in her backyard, holding a gardening tool. Foden, who had called police, was seated outside the residence, legs crossed, head lowered. "I beat up my mother," he said, according to a police affidavit read to the court.

"These pictures are some of the most awful pictures I've ever seen," Judge Clifford Kinghorn said while looking at photographs of Flanders' injuries during Foden's arraignment Monday in Merrimack's 9th Circuit Court. "My heart goes out to that mother."

Flanders was in serious condition Sunday night at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center, but was listed as stable Monday. She was admitted to Massachusetts General Hospital Monday and discharged the same day, a hospital spokesman said.

"This case is everybody's worst nightmare," Melissa Kowalewski, prosecutor for the Merrimack Police Department, told the judge. Foden, who appeared in court wearing an orange jumpsuit and shackles, is charged with three counts of felony second-degree assault.

It is not Flanders' first encounter with violence. In October 2010, she discovered the body of her tenant, Lynne Melk Brennan, in the apartment she rented to her at 267 River Road in Manchester. Brennan's death has been ruled homicide, and the case remains unsolved.

According to Foden's defense attorney, Amanda Steenhuis, Foden was previously diagnosed with schizophrenia and has ongoing mental health issues. He has a history of arrests, she said, explaining in 1994 he was convicted of possession of a controlled drug, and in 1997 he was convicted of simple assault and resisting arrest.

"This is a tragedy. It is a huge family tragedy," said Steenhuis, explaining that although Foden has a long history of mental instability, he was doing well recently while living alone.

Foden of 57 Tyler St., Apartment 409, in Nashua, had met with a caseworker about a week ago, and it was reportedly one of their best meetings, according to Steenhuis.

He had since received a flu shot, and amoxicillin for an infection, she said. Foden's brother later called 911 because he was worried about his brother's condition. Foden was treated in the emergency room at Southern New Hampshire Medical Center and spent the night; he was released less than 36 hours before the attack on his mother, according to the attorneys.

Lt. Denise Roy said Flanders was pushed face-first into a glass cabinet, which severed her ear, and that a finger also penetrated her eye socket. The woman's severed ear was eventually located by authorities. Inside the residence, police found broken glass and blood on the floor, walls and furniture.

Steenhuis asked that the recommended $150,000 cash-only bail be reconsidered, and that Foden instead be sent to the New Hampshire Hospital for treatment.

"Mr. Foden isn't asking to go home. He is afraid ..." she said.

Kinghorn said he would prefer that Foden be sent directly to the state hospital as an involuntary emergency admission, but stressed that before Foden is released - which could be one day, one month or longer - that the sheriff's department take him immediately to Valley Street Jail in Manchester.

"They both want (Foden) in the hospital," Steenhuis said, referring to her client's mother and brother. Foden's brother was in court for Monday's hearing.

Crime Merrimack Nashua

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