Elderly grandmother fatally overdosed disabled adult grandson, say Bradenton Police

Bradenton woman says she killed disabled grandson with drug overdose, according to police.

Bradenton woman says she killed disabled grandson with drug overdose, according to police.

The Bradenton woman who told police she gave her disabled grandson a fatal overdose of drugs in order to kill him faces a second-degree murder charge, Bradenton police said Wednesday.

Police have obtained a warrant charging Lillian Parks, 87, with second-degree murder, in the death of her grandson, Joel Parks, 30.

Police Capt. Brian Thiers said Parks will be taken into custody immediately after her release from medical evaluation and charged with the crime. Thiers said is no timeline on when she will be released from the medical evaluation, however.

Police say Parks volunteered information that she purposely overdosed her grandson out of fear that she may be dying soon and there was no one able to take care of him.

However, police noted that it was Joel Parks’ sister who found the body around noon Sunday at the Carlton Arms apartments on Riverside Drive in East Bradenton.

Neighbors told the Bradenton Herald on Wednesday that Joel Parks was not physically disabled. They said he suffered from some mental issues stemming from an accident when he was an infant. Otherwise, he was fully functional, they said.

Thiers told the Herald that Joel Parks’ only disability was that he had the mind of a child and therefore required constant supervision and care.

Neighbors say Joel Parks helped at a nearby neighborhood convenience store almost every weekend he stayed with his grandmother and that is where he was last seen Saturday morning in good spirits before returning home to his grandmother. Theirs said police responded to the call the next day on Sunday, but are not yet able to disclose an exact time of death.

Thiers said an autopsy has been completed, but a cause of death from the medical examiner’s office will take some time to determine what the woman used to kill her grandson.

Public records show Lillian Parks is a former nurse, having held a license in the state of Tennessee from 1977 to 1983.

Thiers could not say at this time how long Lillian Parks will remain in medical custody or what, if any, health issues she may be suffering. Lillian Parks has no criminal history. She has had one traffic ticket, which occurred in 2003, according to public records.

“When all the ambulances showed up, everyone thought they were there for her,” said a neighbor who did not want to be named. “The news is working its way around the neighborhood today and everyone is very shocked. This didn’t need to happen. It’s very sad.”

Thiers said law enforcement “is at the mercy of medical staff right now but at the end of the day, she took a human life. Take out all the variables in this. Take out her age, his disability. She took a human life and she did it on her own. That’s how we are looking at this. It’s a second-degree murder charge.”

Thiers said until Lillian Parks is arrested, not a lot more information will be provided, as there is a second important part of the investigation that is ongoing.

“We’ve established Joel Parks died at the hands of Lillian Parks,” Thiers said. “Now we go back to the beginning and start from scratch and talk to family and people who knew him and cared for him and try to establish the what, why and when. Right now, we don’t know Joel Parks so we need people who know his story to come talk to us and tell us your side of who Joel Parks is. Joel can’t talk anymore so we need Joel’s voice.”

Thiers said it’s too early to tell if the drugs used to kill Joel Parks to overdose were legal, given Lillian Park’s medical background.

“A lot of that will have to do with the search warrant and the toxicology report and it’s too early to say if the drugs used were legally there,” he said. “I won’t comment on the autopsy until we have more of a firm grasp on what was used.”

If anyone has any information on this case or would like to let investigators know more about Joel Parks, call Detective Adrian Meridan at 941-932-9326 or email your information to CRIMETIPS@CITYOFBRADENTON.COM.

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Breaking News/Real Time Reporter Mark Young began his career in 1996 and has been with the Bradenton Herald since 2014. He has won more than a dozen awards over the years, including the coveted Lucy Morgan Award for In-Depth Reporting from the Florida Press Club and for beat reporting from the Society for Professional Journalists to name a few. His reporting experience is as diverse as the communities he covers.

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