The routine was well-grounded: Helen Van Orden, 79, worked as a housekeeper from 8 a.m. till noon Monday through Friday at Emeritus at College Park in Manatee. Then she’d go straight home and walk her dog.
One day, she was waiting for her son, Charles Van Orden, 61, to call at 9 p.m. as he did every night to check on her. She didn’t answer, so Charles went to her small apartment next day and found his mother’s dead body in the living room.
The suspect in the murder is Richard Wayne Matthews, Jr., 32. Charles believes his mother was killed for her credit cards, purse and car. The victim’s daughter, Mary Ann Layhew, believes a connection existed between Matthews and her mother, in that the suspect knew Layhew’s son.
Crushed by the tragedy, Charles took his mother’s dog to an animal shelter, being unable to care for her.
Matthews is no stranger to a life of crime; he has numerous felony convictions. He’s been charged in Helen’s murder, plus burglary with assault and battery, and auto theft. This sounds like a slam-dunk case, as Matthews was dumb enough to tell three people he murdered Helen.
Ronald Ellison, Matthews’ godfather, told the sheriff’s office that Matthews told him he had “killed a lady at the Burgundy Apartments [where Helen lived],” and that he had stolen her credit cards and car. The ditched car was eventually found.
Matthews is being held without bond in the Manatee County jail.
Charles wants to confront his mother’s killer in court and ask him why on earth he would ever commit such a heinous crime. Charles was quoted as saying that he wants Matthews “to get everything you deserve.”
Yes, let’s definitely hope that this ruthless killer gets the harshest punishment.