Woman admits to drowning 93-year-old grandmother in kitchen sink at Eaton home

Matheny faces prison sentence of 15 years to life.

EATON — A Preble County woman admitted to drowning her 93-year-old grandmother in November at the older woman’s Eaton home.

Heidi Michelle Matheny, 35, of West Spring Street in Eaton, pleaded guilty Friday to murder in Preble County Common Pleas Court.

Matheny 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.

Today, Matheny admitted her crime to Judge Stephen Bruns, pleading guilty to murder. She faces a mandatory sentence of life in prison the possibility of parole after 15 years.

Matheny’s attorney Gracita Hubler waived a presentence investigation, but sentencing was continued for 10 days at the request of county Prosecutor Martin Votel to permit the victim’s family to be present. She will be sentenced March 15.

There were no family members in the courtroom Friday.

The guilty plea comes two months after the judge declared Matheny competent for trial, following a forensic psychological evaluation.

According to an Eaton police report, Matheny was placed on a suicide watch at the time of her arrest, and at her initial arraignment she said she did not “wish to have an attorney.”

Matheny was transferred to Summit Behavioral Health in Cincinnati before she was indicted, according to court records. That continued initial hearings in municipal court until the grand jury returned the murder indictment in December.

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 in the 300 block of East Somers Street, 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 at the kitchen sink 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.”

An officer asked, “So you decided to take her life?” according to the report. “She said ‘That’s what I did.’”

A detective later asked whether she was aggravated with her grandmother and Matheny said she was “aggravated with the situation.”

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