A retired teacher was discovered dead in her Stafford County, Virginia, home Friday morning, and police have charged her son with her murder.
Elizabeth Ellis, 67, was found dead on Fagan Street early Friday, the Stafford County Sheriff's Office said. Her son, Christopher Ellis, 38, was found yelling in the backyard.
Neighbor Mike Sutphin was smoking in his yard about 5 a.m. when he heard a man screaming.
"It was all gibberish," he said. "It was all together, things were crazy."
Sutphin said he could make out two words: Mother and father.
"He literally seemed like he was going crazy," he said.
The neighbor called 911, and deputies arrived at the house about 5:10 a.m. Christopher Ellis was still in the yard and assaulted a sheriff's deputy who approached him, police said. He was taken into custody, and police then entered the family's house and made the terrible discovery.
Deputies found Elizabeth Ellis' body and said she died of blunt-force trauma.
Elizabeth Ellis worked as a middle school teacher for 17 years and then at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library in Fredericksburg for 18 years, in the youth services area, former coworkers said. She retired last year.
"She was a very warm, caring person," Caroline Parr, of the library, said. "She had a beautiful smile. She was one of those sort of quietly stable, foundational people at the library."
Sutphin, the Ellis' neighbor, said he was shocked and saddened by Elizabeth Ellis' death. She was one of his middle-school teachers, and he helped her with yard work after her husband died.
"She was a very sweet old lady," he said.
“Our prayers and condolences go out to the Ellis family,” Sheriff Charles Jett said in a statement. “This tragedy is one that no family or individual should ever have to endure.”
Investigators spent most of Friday inside the home, recovering evidence. The investigation is ongoing.
Christopher Ellis was charged with first-degree murder and is being held at Rappahannock Regional Jail. Neighbors said he had struggled with mental health issues for years. He is one of three brothers and was the only family member to live with his mother, according to neighbors.