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December 1, 1998
Author: BEVERLY FORD
As her elderly mother clung to life yesterday, 54-year-old Nancy Reida stood silently in Cambridge District Court – her eyes vacant and her hair disheveled – while a judge ordered her to undergo psychiatric testing following the brutal beating and scalding of her 85-year-old mom. “The mother has a long road in front of her,” said prosecutor Marian Ryan, following Reida’s arraignment on charges of attempted murder, mayhem and assault and battery with a dangerous weapon.
A psychiatrist who examined Reida prior to yesterday’s court appearance told Judge Roanne Sragow the suspect was not taking her anti-depression and anti-anxiety medication and had been hearing voices prior to the attack on Jane Sheard. Both Reida’s attorney, David Twohig, and Ryan declined to comment on the suspect’s mental state at the time of Friday’s attack.
In court however, Reida appeared distant and unemotional as the charges against her were read.
Authorities said Reida allegedly used her hands and feet and a lamp to beat her mother before dousing the elderly woman with scalding water sometime during the late afternoon or early evening. “I guess it went on for awhile,” Arlington Police Lt. Robert White said of the beating. “She had some broken bones.”
A motive for the attack remained unclear yesterday. Reida, who listed an address on Cape Cod, had been living with her mother in Arlington for about a year, officials said. During that time, police received no calls for problems at Sheard’s home, authorities said.
But on Friday, after a concerned neighbor spoke with Sheard by phone about two hours after the assault, investigators were called to the home. Officers broke down the door and found the elderly woman severely beaten and suffering from first-, second- and third-degree burns. She was listed in critical condition in the intensive care unit at the Lahey Clinic in Burlington yesterday.
Reida was arrested by police Saturday morning after she returned to her mother’s residence as police were in the process of obtaining a search warrant.