Tuesday, March 11, 2014
By MATT HONGOLTZ-HETLING Morning Sentinel
FAIRFIELD – A woman who is accused of trying to strangle her 79-year-old mother with a rope this week has a history of mental health problems, illegal gun possession and violence.
Betty Lou Buzzell
Fairfield police arrested Bonny Lou Buzzell, 48, and charged her with assault and aggravated assault Monday. She is in the Somerset County Jail.
Buzzell's mother, Viola Hutchins of Hutchins Road, said her life was saved when her pit bull, Kaiser, fended off the alleged attack, which police said involved a noose.
Hutchins said the incident shocked her.
"I never worried about her hurting anybody," Hutchins said. "I figured that she wouldn't hurt me on a bet."
Hutchins said she was too upset to talk about the details of the incident, but she credits the dog she nursed back to health from near-starvation when she took it in.
"He's very, very protective of me," she said. "I do think if it weren't for him I probably wouldn't be here today."
The alleged attack happened after a disagreement Monday evening between Hutchins and Buzzell about bringing firewood into the home, according to Buzzell's 29-year-old daughter, Renee Reynolds. She learned of the incident from Hutchins, she said.
The dog bit Buzzell on the arm hard enough to cause bleeding, ending the incident and allowing Hutchins to dial 911, according to Reynolds.
Fairfield police Sgt. Matt Bard said officers responded to the call from Hutchins shortly after 7 p.m. Monday, but Buzzell had left the area and could not be found.
About two hours later, when Buzzell returned to the home, a confrontation with family members turned physical.
Reynolds said she was allegedly attacked by her mother, which included punches to the face.
Police said family members held Buzzell on the couch while they called 911 again; police arrived about 10 minutes later and arrested her without further incident. Bard said no one was seriously injured.
Buzzell was charged with aggravated assault against her mother and assault against her daughter.
Under Maine law, aggravated assault applies in "the use of strangulation," defined as "the intentional impeding of the breathing or circulation of blood of another person by applying pressure on the person's throat or neck." It is punishable by up to 10 years in prison. Assault is punishable by up to five years in prison.
Buzzell's criminal history includes at least three incidents of assault and time in a psychiatric hospital.
In 2009, U.S. District Court in Bangor sentenced Buzzell, then named Bonny Reynolds, to 24 months in prison and three years of supervised released because she had two .22-caliber revolvers. She was not allowed to have firearms because in 2006 she was involuntarily committed to a psychiatric hospital, according to the U.S. attorney at the time.
Buzzell was convicted twice in 2012 of assault in addition to various lesser crimes over the last several years, according to court records.
Reynolds and Hutchins said they fear that Buzzell will hurt herself or someone else in the family after she is released.
Hutchins said that more than anything, she wants Buzzell to get care that will improve her mental health.
Matt Hongoltz-Hetling can be contacted at 861-9287 or at: