Dillsburg-area woman pleads guilty in spousal neglect case

Liz Evans Scolforo
York Dispatch
Joann Fetrow

A 71-year-old Dillsburg-area woman has pleaded guilty in two cases in which police had accused her of failing to care for her near-invalid husband and threatening his daughter.

Joann M. Fetrow, of Franklin Township, pleaded guilty in York County Court on Thursday, Aug. 8, to two counts of summary harassment.

In exchange, misdemeanor charges including neglect of a care-dependent person, simple assault and making terroristic threats were dismissed, according to court records.

Fetrow was ordered to pay a total of $200 in fines, according to her defense attorney, Brian Perry.

"I think everyone took into consideration both her age and the age of her husband and all the facts and circumstances that led to the charges," he told The York Dispatch. "There's no question that Mrs. Fetrow loves her husband and did her best to care for him. But eventually it became too much for one person."

Perry said his client's behavior was out of character for her.

"There's no question (the incidents) were a product of her declining health as well," he said. "He is now being cared for by his daughter and other family members."

Fetrow and husband Nolan Fetrow remain indefinitely separated, according to Perry.

Perry said he and his client appreciate the fact that prosecutors, the victim and the victim's family members supported the negotiated plea agreement.

The background: Northern York County Regional Police were called to the Fetrow home Oct. 16, 2018, by a caseworker with the York County Area Agency on Aging, who was asking for officers' help to transfer the care of Nolan Fetrow from Joann Fetrow to his adult daughter, court documents state.

Nolan Fetrow was 73 at the time, according to police. Court documents indicate he is frail, in a wheelchair and "on the verge of being an invalid."

Caseworker Colin Snyder told officers that Joann Fetrow had signed her husband out of his care facility against doctors' recommendations, after which his adult daughter, who lives in New Cumberland, was granted "custody of care" status for him by the Agency on Aging, documents state.

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An officer at the scene heard Joann Fetrow express disgust for her stepdaughter and call the woman names "for taking Nolan Fetrow away from her," documents state.

A detective went to the Fetrow home two days later to investigate allegations that Nolan Fetrow had suffered injuries allegedly inflicted by his wife, according to police.

He had a severe bite mark on his right forearm and told the detective that his wife bit him  Oct. 14, documents allege.

Nolan Fetrow said that Joann Fetrow was yelling at him "and he felt she was going to hit him again so he put his hand on her arm to try and stop her," documents state. "At that point, Joann Fetrow bit the arm of Nolan Fetrow."

He told the detective his ribs hurt because he wife had kicked him repeatedly after he fell out of bed, police said.

Alleged threats: Police filed a second set of charges against Joann Fetrow for making threats involving her stepdaughter between Jan. 30 and Feb. 13.

Court documents state she called a family member of her husband's and was extremely angry about the charges against her, directing her anger toward her stepdaughter.

During that conversation, Joann Fetrow claimed her stepdaughter was trying to send her to jail and twice said that before she went to jail, she would kill her stepdaughter, court documents state.

— Reach Liz Evans Scolforo at levans@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @LizScolforoYD.