Suspect in elderly couple's slaying had history of violence

2013-08-29T00:00:00Z 2013-08-29T09:45:05Z Suspect in elderly couple's slaying had history of violenceKimberly Matas Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

One of the men suspected in a July double homicide has a history of violent assaults and mental health issues, documents state, and autopsy reports issued Wednesday for the slain Tucson couple describe the brutality of their deaths.

Erskin Fulgham, 87, and his wife Mary Fulgham, 83, were found on the afternoon of July 23, dead in their home in the 4600 block of East North Street near the intersection of East Grant and North Swan roads.

A day later, three suspects, including their grandson, were arrested in Nevada. They were driving the Fulghams’ car when they were picked up, officials said.

Erskin Fulgham showed signs of defensive wounds in the knife attack, according to the Pima County Office of the Medical Examiner report. In addition to dozens of cuts and stab wounds, he was severely beaten.

Mary Fulgham’s wounds were less extensive than those of her husband, according to the reports. She suffered about a dozen cuts and stab wounds.

The Fulghams’ grandson Kyle Austin Drattlo, 20, and Brianna Harding, 21, and Christopher Edward Terry, 23, pleaded not guilty last Friday to two counts each of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder, burglary in the first degree, armed robbery, aggravated robbery and theft of a means of transportation.

Drattlo and Harding do not have records in Pima County Juvenile Court, but Terry has an extensive juvenile record for violent behavior and lived in group homes for much of his teen years.

Records show between the ages of 11 and 16, Terry appeared in juvenile court for incidents of aggravated assault and criminal damage, including:

  • March 2002: He was accused of punching a female teacher in the face and kicking holes in the walls of a classroom.
  • April 2002: He was accused of assaulting another female teacher and punching and kicking holes in the walls.
  • July 2002: Authorities said he assaulted a female staffer at a group home and damaged the property.
  • January 2004: He was accused of attacking a woman working at the group home with a broom handle, breaking her hand.
  • June 2006: Terry was accused of using a rope to choke a group home staffer and a fork heated with a cigarette lighter to stab him, and of choking a group home resident and cutting him with a piece of broken tile. He also was charged with criminal damage for destroying group-home property.

Most of the charges against Terry eventually were dismissed. The incidents for which he was adjudicated resulted in probation and restitution of about $1,300.

In 2004, Terry was diagnosed with ADHD, mood and anxiety disorders, and psychotic states and hallucinations by a court-appointed psychologist after a truncated interview during which a then-14-year-old Terry became “hostile and aggressive,” according to court documents. Additionally, a medical doctor diagnosed Terry with bipolar disorder, Tourette’s syndrome and “borderline intellectual functioning.”

Court records also indicated Terry mutilated himself and pulled out four of his teeth.

Dellene Schwieso was married to Terry’s father for eight years, from the time the boy was 12 and still living in a group home.

“I felt sorry for Chris,” Schwieso said in an interview. “This kid was on 33 kinds of medication and he was seeing a child counselor.”

Schwieso thought Terry would fare better in their family residence than at a group home. “I did not have the full spectrum on what was going on with Christopher,” she said.

Soon after bringing Terry home, “he tore up his bedroom and wiped feces on the walls,” then “hid in the closet and pulled out his four lower teeth with his fingers.”

Terry eventually moved back into a group home.

Contact reporter Kimberly Matas at kmatas@azstarnet.com or at 573-4191.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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