Woman who drowned 93-year-old grandmother in kitchen sink gets life in prison

EATON — Minutes after Heidi Matheny drown her 93-year-old grandmother in the kitchen sink, she walked to the sheriff’s office and confessed. On Wednesday, the 35-year-old Eaton resident was sentenced to life in prison.

Matheny, of West Spring Street, pleaded guilty earlier this month to murder in Preble County Common Pleas Court.

She was taken into custody Nov. 15, 2022, fewer than two hours after she told Eaton Police Division detectives she drowned Alice Matheny, then went out the bathroom window of her grandmother’s Somers Street duplex, according to court records.

Matheny’s attorney, Gracita Hubler, waived a pre-sentence investigation. There was no discretion in the sentence for Judge Stephen Bruns to consider because, by law, murder carries a mandatory sentence of life in prison with the possibility of parole after 15 years.

Family members were in the courtroom for the video sentencing but did not speak. Matheny gave no statement before sentencing, nor did her attorney.

Hubler said in court documents that Matheny “snapped” under pressure for trying to help care for the victim.

“Ms. Matheny had an increasingly difficult time listening to her grandmother lament about the stress caused by the family arguing over financial issues and other concerns,” Hubler said in the sentencing memorandum. “It appears that this pressure/stress felt by Ms. Matheny when listening to these things, coupled with her mental illness(es) resulted in the unthinkable.”

The attorney said Matheny “has expressed nothing by remorse for her actions since the outset of the case.”

Matheny pleaded guilty two months after Bruns declared her competent for trial, following a forensic psychological evaluation.

Matheny walked into the Preble County Sheriff’s Office about 5:55 p.m. Nov. 15, 2022 and said she wanted to turn herself in. She told an Eaton police detective she killed her grandmother. When officers responded to a duplex, they found Alice Matheny deceased and lying in a bathtub.

An autopsy revealed Alice had a fractured sternum and rib as well as multiple bruises on her neck and arms, according to court documents.

During an interview with police, Heidi Matheny said her grandmother was doing dishes in the kitchen when she came up behind her and put her head in the sink, according to an Eaton police report. She told police she held her grandmother there until the bubbles stopped and then moved her to the couch.

“She thought that [Alice] may not be dead so she went into the bathroom and filled the bathtub,” the report read. “She drug [Alice] into the bathroom and placed her into the tub.”

Court discovery documents indicate items taken from the crime scene include pink slippers, a holiday throw, kitchen utensils including a white tea cup, knives, plastic storage containers and a Jitterbug cell phone.

Matheny said she held her grandmother underwater for 15 minutes in the bathtub, according to the police report. She demonstrated how she overpowered her grandmother and held her by the hair.

When police asked her what led to the incident, she said “it was a day like any other day,” according to the report. Matheny said she visited her grandmother and had taken her out that day. They spent time together before the older woman went to the sink to wash dishes.

“I just lost my (expletive). It’s nothing that she did. She’s a perfect freaking grandma,” Matheny said to the detective, according to the report.

Matheny said the previous day they went to the doctor, who reportedly said her grandmother needed to be in a nursing home, but they couldn’t afford it.

She said the situation was a “nightmare.”

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