In a scary run-in with her new housemate, Charlotte Simons ended up fighting for her life. The 74-year-old senior woman was attacked by a man she trusted to share her home.
When Simons put out an ad for a roommate, the idea was that the new person was to share the bills and rent for her Oregon apartment. One of these bills became the topic of an argument, and the 72-year-old roommate took things one step further. He tried to kill the elderly lady, and she did the only thing she knew to do to survive. She played dead until she was able to use a medical device to get help.
Simons lives as many seniors do, on a fixed income. She was having problems making ends meet, and sought to rent out a room in her apartment.
Splitting the rent seemed to come easy for the pair. The problem came when it was time to split the electric bill.
Simons gave the set of bills for February to Miller. She did not know he was having an issue with his share of the bills.
Instead of either paying his half of the electric bill or perhaps discussing any issue he had with the bill with Simons. Miller made a more sinister plan.
He was going to kill his frail roommate.
Miller knew Simons’ nightly routine. She enjoyed sitting in her recliner in the evening and watching television.
On February 4th, this routine almost turned deadly.
When Simons sat down to watch her favorite show, Miller sprung into action. He grabbed a plastic bag and placed it over her head. He was going to suffocate her in her own home.
Instead of becoming overwhelmed, Simons made a quick choice to trick Miller into thinking he had killed her. She played dead, and it was enough to stop Miller.
According to Simons:
“He thought he could suffocate me with that. I played dead… I just went limp, and he thought that he killed me.”
In the process of going limp, she made another bold move. She fell in just the right manner that her hand had easy access to the Philips Lifeline medical alert necklace she was wearing.
The Lifeline products are tied to a service that allows an outside company to monitor seniors in their homes. A senior wearing this type of device can trigger help with a push of a button.
There are currently seven million users of this product in the United States. It is also licensed as a medical device with the Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
The button is often used when a senior has a medical emergency and is home alone.
In this case, Simons used the product to connect to the police.
Miller did not seem to notice that Simons had access to this medical device. She had easy access to immediate help within her reach.
An interesting added feature for this type of device is the fact that they also have a breakaway component. This means that if the necklace is torn from the user’s neck, a fuse will break.
A fuse breaking will also trigger a call for help. That feature was not activated in this case, but it could have been useful if Miller tried to take the device.
Pressing her medical alert necklace trigger, Simons was put right through to a dispatch company. The live answer was vital to the safety of the customer in this case.
A dispatcher notified the police that the senior woman needed help when they heard her screaming about Miller trying to kill her.
When Miller noticed the commotion of Simons triggering the help button, he started to beat his roommate. She was able to slow down the attack by grabbing Miller by his “gonads.” She told police she grabbed him as hard as he could and would not let go.
By the time the police arrived on the scene, she had one of her eyes swollen shut. Simons spent two days in the hospital to recover from the beating.
Miller was taken into custody when police arrived on scene. He was arrested on multiple charges.
He is now being held in the Washington County Jail in Oregon. His charges include attempted murder and strangulation.
Miller pled not guilty during his first court appearance. He is still in custody.