WASHINGTON (CN) – A District of Columbia man was sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison for the brutal murder of his elderly mother last summer in the home they shared.
Derek Cook, 52, pleaded guilty in September to bludgeoning his 81-year-old mother, Ann Alfredia Cook, to death in August. His plea was accepted by Judge Zoe Bush, of the D.C. Superior Court, on Monday.
Cook admitted to beating his mother with an iron and a piece of a wooden chair. According to published reports, police broke down the door of the apartment and found Cook covered with his mother’s blood.
Ann Cook was transported to a local hospital where she died.
According to the National Clearinghouse on Abuse in Later Life, one in 10 older adults living in their homes experience violence each year.
Gretta Gardner, deputy director of the D.C. Coalition Against Domestic Violence, said she is sadly familiar with these stories like the Cook’s; a former prosecutor with the City of Baltimore domestic violence unit, Gardner said “elder abuse is very real and they are a very vulnerable population.”
She noted the issue is also under-reported because elderly victims are often reliant on their abusers to support them in their everyday lives.
“If you try and report it you can lose your lifeline to the rest of the world,” she said.
Gardner advises senior citizens to stay connected with people in their community and report incidents of domestic violence as soon as they arise.
“The more connections you have to community and services the less likely it is you will be killed,” she said. “Having more people in your life, if you’re the victim of family or domestic violence, gives you greater security and safety.”