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Police: Bradenton woman purposely gave grandson drugs to overdose, faces murder charge

Manatee County

MANATEE COUNTY, Fla. (WFLA) – As soon as an 87-year-old Bradenton woman is released from a medical center, she will be handcuffed and charged with murder. Police say she killed her disabled grandson.

Bradenton police were called to the apartment of 87-year-old Lillian Parks on Sunday. They found her 30-year-old grandson, Joel Parks, dead inside.

Joel was disabled. Police say Lillian confessed she gave him a drug overdose to kill him because she feared after she died, no one would be able to care for him.

“This is a process where it was thought out, planned and she took a human life,” said Bradenton Police Captain Brian Thiers.

Police tell 8 On Your Side Joel’s sister visited the home and made the discovery.

Officers says Joel’s father died and Joel’s mother was estranged from the family.

8 On Your Side has learned Joel lived in a group home during the week and would spend weekends with his grandmother.

Lillian was taken to a secure medical facility. Upon release, she’ll be charged with second-degree murder.

Joel was beloved at Easterseals of Southwest Florida.

“He would come and he would say ‘Hi Friend! Hi Friend!’” said CEO Tom Waters.

For years, Joel took part in a day program. He loved playing baseball, earning the nickname “Home Run Joel,” and never met anyone he didn’t like.

“Joel was one of the happiest guys that you could ever meet. He was also one of the strongest huggers that you would ever meet, he would come up to you and give you that bear hug and you knew you had been hugged,” said Waters.

This community is heartbroken.

“(The) Easterseals family is in mourning, the disabilities community is in mourning, lots of people are in mourning because…everything in this situation is tragic,” said Waters. “We want to express our condolences because as we mourn, I know they do, but we’re celebrating him. We’re celebrating the life that he had and the life he shared with us.”

Police are awaiting toxicology results to determine the drug used in Joel’s death.

Officials say this story brings up a discussion on aging caregivers of disabled adults. There are resources available to help those in need.

You can reach out to the Agency for Persons with Disabilities, Florida Developmental Disabilities Council. There are also local organizations such as Easterseals of Southwest Florida and The Haven.

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