An elderly Alabama widow described as an “invalid” is facing charges in the 2014 murder and dismemberment of her husband.
Police arrested Carolyn Hood, 79, at a Montgomery nursing home on Tuesday after a grand jury indicted her on a charge of aiding and abetting the capital murder of her late spouse, 87-year-old Kenneth Hood.
Her son William Alvin Minton, 57, was arrested shortly after the brutal slaying in November 2014. Minton, a felon who served prison time for child molestation and sodomy, is scheduled for trial in December.
On Tuesday, an ambulance transported Carolyn Hood to the Baldwin County jail, where she spent the night. She wore a hospital gown in her mugshot.
“Honestly, it boggles my mind that a 79-year-old woman is being charged as complicit in a capital murder case almost two years later,” said Jeremiah Giles, Hood’s attorney.
Giles told The Daily Beast prosecutors are likely targeting his client because they can’t prove Minton had any pecuniary gain in the killing—a factor that’s necessary for the state to pursue the death penalty.
“My client is the only person who would have seen any money,” Giles added. “I think she’s being used as a pawn so the state can charge [Minton] with a capital offense.”
Hood is “unable to care for herself in any way,” the lawyer said. He’s also unsure the frail murder suspect “fully understands” what’s happening to her.
Giles told The Daily Beast he and his co-counsel, Wayne Doerr, will seek a mental evaluation for Hood.
But prosecutors say Hood “was complicit” in the death of her hubby, a retired corrections officer with the Bureau of Prisons.
“Just because you aren’t necessarily the one with the weapon doesn’t mean you don’t have an active role in it,” assistant district attorney Tara Ratz told WKRG in Mobile. “She was complicit in it. That is what our office believed and the grand jury believed as well.”
“Regardless of gender or age or things like that, if you’ve done a horrific act like this you will be prosecuted for it,” Ratz added.
The widow was headed back to her assisted-living facility Wednesday afternoon following her arraignment. She pleaded not guilty, and was pushed out of the courtroom in a wheelchair, released on a $100,000 bond, AL.com reported.
At the court appearance, Baldwin County district attorney Hallie Dixon said she would not seek the death penalty for Hood because of her age and physical condition.
Hood will remain at the nursing home until her trial in December, authorities said.
Police caught onto Kenneth Hood’s murder on Nov. 9, 2014, when a dog named Roofus discovered a severed arm and hand. The Rhodesian Shepherd mix happened to belong to Clark Stewart, president of an AM radio station in Foley.
“He’s come up with fish and all kinds of things before,” Stewart told AL.com after the grisly discovery. “I thought it was an animal carcass of some kind.”
The pooch brought the appendage to a flower bed beneath his kitchen window. “My wife saw it first. I was going outside to discard it. As I reached down to pick it up, I noticed it had fingers on it and a ring,” Stewart said at the time.
Days later, the dog fetched a severed foot to Stewart’s yard. Authorities said the canine retrieved the body parts from the nearby Magnolia River.
Cops swept the area and found a decapitated head and other remains in Nolte Creek, just south of Magnolia Springs, AL.com reported. Investigators also discovered a human torso beneath the Weeks Creek Bridge.
Minton, Kenneth Hood’s stepson, was arrested Nov. 11, 2014 after police linked a pacemaker found in the torso to Hood, according to AL.com. His bond was set at $1 million.
The stepson allegedly killed Hood five days earlier by striking his head with a 12-inch dumbbell bar handle at the family’s rural home.
According to police testimony, Minton dragged Hood’s body into the garage and hacked it apart with a Kobalt reciprocating saw before dumping the remains into creeks more than six miles from the family’s Foley residence.
Minton allegedly told cops Hood “always wanted to be buried at sea” and that’s why he deserted the body parts in the Weeks and Nolte creeks, a January 2015 preliminary hearing in Baldwin County revealed.
Back then, District Attorney Hallie Dixon said Minton killed his stepfather because of an argument over money; Hood had been lending money to his wife Carolyn’s children and family members, AL.com reported.
“Essentially what we have is an 87-year-old man who was supporting his wife and, for the most part, her ne'er-do-well children,” Dixon said, according to AL.com.
“One of those children who [Hood] allowed to move into his home, who had just gotten out of prison, struck him multiple times with what appeared to be dumbbell bar and then cut him up. It was obviously horrific,” she added.
Authorities said Minton rented a carpet cleaner around the time of the murder, purchased the saw at a hardware store and used Hood’s credit card to get a haircut and to dye his hair, according to AL.com.
The fiendish stepson also bought a new mattress with Hood’s credit card, allegedly to replace a blood-splattered bed inside the home, while receipts for the purchases were found inside a van Minton drove, investigators said.
Carolyn Hood was inside the family home during her husband’s murder, police say. Cops questioned Hood but she wasn’t charged at the time. Investigators described the widow as an “invalid.”
After the gruesome killing, Hood fled with her son to Millbrook, where they have family, according to Baldwin County Sheriff Huey “Hoss” Mack.
Officers cuffed Minton at his brother’s home. “It was family relations that took them to Millbrook,” Mack said at the time.
“Mrs. Hood is a convalescent,” Mack said, according to a report by AL.com. “Not much interaction there. Not much interaction in the community. We do not believe these people were very active in the community.”
Still, the widow was protective of her adult children, and police believed she was not “truthful” in her statements to investigators, Dixon said at the preliminary hearing.
Kenneth and Carolyn Hood were married for 27 years but “had an on-again, off-again relationship,” the prosecutor continued.
“They had issues. It was always the same thing: Her children were in trouble and stealing from (Kenneth Hood). It had been an issue for a large portion of their marriage,” Dixon said.
During the hearing, Minton’s attorney Jim Sweet said his client didn’t commit murder but instead was trying to protect his mother.
“Saying that you killed someone doesn’t mean you killed them intentionally,” Sweet said, according to AL.com. “Every death is not a homicide or a murder. That’s kind of what we have here.”
Minton, who was in and out of prison since 1980, had been living with the Hoods since his release in March 2013. He had just served 20 years for a child molestation and sodomy conviction in Georgia. His victim was a 14-year-old girl, records show.
“Under the circumstances, (Minton) was doing what he thought he needed to do,” Sweet told the judge, adding that Kenneth Hood had a history of domestic violence and was arrested for slapping his step-granddaughter. (Jail records show Hood was arrested in March 2014 on third-degree domestic violence.)
The complaint against Hood was dismissed when his step-granddaughter failed to appear for a court date, AL.com reported.
Anthony Lowery, assistant chief deputy for the Baldwin County sheriff’s office, claimed Kenneth Hood’s death stemmed from domestic violence inside the household.
“It’s unfortunate but it holds true that in a case of an unsolved homicide, you must often look at a family member,” Lowery told The Daily Beast on Wednesday, “and in this case it proved to be accurate.”
“There were some horrible things happened after the fact. Dismemberment separates it out in the minds of other people, but at the core, it’s a domestic violence homicide.”
After Hood’s remains were identified, a neighbor told AL.com that Hood “was not happy with” his wife’s family.
“He was upset that her family wanted them to pay for their college and school and was asking for $50,000,” neighbor Jody Morgan told the publication, adding that Carolyn Hood’s kin also picked her up and took her to North Alabama “without him knowing about it.”
The couple mostly kept to themselves, Morgan said. Prosecutors said they had few friends in the area.
Morgan was upset news outlets used a mugshot of Hood in their reports. “It portrays him like a mean old man. He wasn’t. He was a good, outstanding man who served our society as a prison guard his whole entire life,” she said.
The Hood family home, valued at $140,000 and situated in a new Foley subdivision, remains vacant.