A woman prosecutors say tried to kill her elderly parents by leaving a car running in the garage for six hours was bound over for trial on Monday.
Gretchen Bloyer, 54, a registered nurse who lived in her parents' basement in Salt Lake County and was their caretaker for more than four years, allegedly started the ignition of a car in the garage Dec. 4, 2008, and let it run while she left the house for six hours. Later, she called a sister to ask if their parents were dead, according to prosecutor Gregory Ferbrache.
However, defense attorney Tara Isaacson insisted Bloyer was simply burned out from having to care constantly for her parents, ages 85 and 89, and made the melodramatic remark to get her siblings' attention so she could get help for her parents and her own psychological issues.
Bloyer, who was bound over by 3rd District Judge Vernice Trease, has been charged with two counts of attempted murder, a first-degree felony. Prosecutors amended that Monday to include two alternative charges of attempted abuse/neglect of a disabled or elderly person, a second-degree felony.
Kathy Whitaker, Bloyer's sister who lives in Idaho, said she got a disturbing call from her sister that day, asking Whitaker to come to Utah.
"She said she was afraid she 'was a danger to myself and my parents,' " Whitaker said.
But when Whitaker called a brother and another sister in Utah who went to the house, everyone was fine. The father had turned off the car, which he did frequently after Bloyer would let it run at his request to keep the battery going, and Bloyer had returned after getting food. Whitaker drove to Utah the next day and took her sister to a hospital emergency room.
"She said she had been asking (siblings) for help for months," Whitaker said, stating that Bloyer did all the housekeeping, shopping, cooking and driving for her parents as well as attending to their medical needs as a nurse. "She thought we would finally hear her about needing help."
Whitaker suggested it was a tough job because her parents are "difficult," "stubborn" and "set in their ways."
Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy Travis Wilkinson, who was the first to arrive at the home, interviewed the parents.
"I did not believe they were in any danger," he said, adding that Bloyer denied wanting to hurt her parents.
However, detective Paul Nielsen testified that his law enforcement experience showed him that carbon monoxide can seep from garages into homes and he is familiar with carbon monoxide suicide deaths. He photographed the home, showing that the house and garage shared the same roof.
Nielsen interviewed Bloyer at the hospital and asked her if she knew why he was there.
"She said, 'Because I've broken the law.' "
Bloyer's next court date is Friday.
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