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Date of Issue: June 14, 2007

Police say ex-Islander tried to kill wife

A former Holmes Beach city councilman attempted to smother his wife in a Bradenton nursing home, according to a Bradenton Police Department report.

The report alleges that Freeman Stittsworth, 95, a city councilman in Holmes Beach from 1973 to 1975, went to his wife's room on June 2 and was seen by a nursing assistant holding a pillow over his wife's head.

Ruth Stittsworth, 93, suffers long-term medical problems, including dementia. For more than a year, she and her husband of 70 years have lived separately at Westminster Towers.

Police records indicate that Stittsworth said he went to his wife's room to kiss her good night before eating dinner. He said before he went to bed he played a game and paid some bills.

But another account has Stittsworth going to his wife's room, where he was seen pressing a pillow to her head, and, when interrupted by an employee, abruptly leaving.

Ruth Stittsworth was not physically injured and was apparently unaware of any incident.

Freeman Stittsworth, who with his wife moved to Florida in the 1970s from Pennsylvania, faces a charge of attempted murder and he remained in the Manatee County jail last week without bond. He is believed to be the oldest person ever detained at the jail.

He has denied attempting to kill his wife.