PHOENIX – In the end, Anna Mae Blessing spent her last few weeks in the type of place law enforcement said she went to criminal lengths to avoid.
Blessing – who turned 93 in November – was accused of fatally shooting her son because he planned to place her in an assisted-living facility. She died in hospice care after suffering a stroke in jail.
It’s not clear when exactly she died. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office filed a motion to dismiss the case without prejudice on Jan. 10, citing her death as the reason.
Court documents said Blessing had a stroke in the Maricopa County jail on Nov. 9. She was released from custody and into hospice care shortly after, where she remained until she died.
Blessing missed multiple court dates since her arrest in July because of her ailing health. Court documents said she wasn’t able to get out of bed.
More: 92-year-old woman kills son after refusing to be sent to assisted living facility, authorities say
Her public defender, Jennine Burns, alluded to Blessing’s health issues during a December status conference in Maricopa County Superior Court.
“Miss Blessing has significant health issues that I think will be impacting the scope of this case in the near future,” Burns told Judge Susan Brnovich.
Burns didn’t respond to a request for comment. Neither did Blessing’s surviving granddaughter.
‘You took my life, so I’m taking yours’
Blessing lived with her 72-year-old son Thomas and his girlfriend in Fountain Hills for about six months, according to court records. The relationship between mother and son became strained, and Thomas Blessing planned to place his then 92-year-old mother in an assisted-living facility because she “had become difficult to live with.”
On the night of July 2, Blessing reportedly hid two pistols in the pockets of her robe before confronting her son and his girlfriend while they were asleep in bed, court records detailed. She shot and killed her son before turning the gun on his girlfriend, who was able to wrestle the firearm away from the elderly woman and throw it into a corner of the room.
Blessing then pulled the other handgun out from her robe pocket and attempted to point it at the girlfriend. They struggled until Blessing lost her grip on the gun.
The girlfriend fled the room and called for help.
Blessing sat waiting in a recliner in her bedroom until deputies with the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office arrived. She told them she wanted to kill herself, but didn’t have any more weapons to do so, court records said.
She reportedly told them, “You took my life, so I’m taking yours,” referring to her son as they escorted her out of the home.
Shortly after Blessing’s arrest, Maricopa County Sheriff Paul Penzone said deputies had been called to the home multiple times for domestic disputes between mother and son.
“There were communications between the parties expressing the frustration in the relationship even to the point where both had expressed a concern that the other party could become violent,” Penzone said.
The Sheriff’s Office didn’t intervene even though there were potential threats and concerns about violence between Thomas and Anna Mae Blessing.
Thirteen guns, including two that belonged to the elderly woman, were found during a search of the home following the shooting.
Penzone had pledged to investigate whether the deputies made the right judgments during their visits in the months before the shooting.
“If we failed in any way, shape or form, that is unacceptable,” Penzone said following the shooting. “But we’re not ultimately the ones responsible when an individual decides to take the act of using a firearm or other weapon to take another life. It is that individual’s responsibility; they own that act.”
A spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office said it has since been determined the deputies responded appropriately following a review.