The medical condition of Pembroke resident Wilhelmina Tuten, 72, has taken a turn for the worse, a family member said Friday.
Tuten has been in intensive care at Memorial Hospital since July 28, after allegedly being beaten by her son, Craig Neesmith, while driving to a Pembroke convenience store.
Tuten reached a near-death state after the assault, which reportedly took place after she refused to give him beer money. Neesmith remained in Bryan County Jail Friday, facing multiple charges.
Rusty Neesmith, Tuten’s other son, said things were looking good after a successful surgery removed a blood clot from her brain on Aug. 2.
Neesmith said she awoke two days after the surgery and was seemingly on a fast track to recovery, with her doctor planning to move her out of the intensive care unit.
That only lasted for a day, he said.
On Aug. 5, Neesmith said her blood pressure shot up which coincided with her losing sight and the ability to speak in a comprehensive manner.
"The nurse said she may get better as the bruising on her brain go down, but there’s no way to predict for sure," he said. "She’s in terrible shape right now. She’s down to 70 pounds because she pulled her feeding tube out."
Neesmith said he is taking time off from work to be with his mother right now.
Meanwhile, community outreach efforts in the name of Tuten have continued throughout the city of Pembroke.
Some $200 in pizza sales was collected by Pembroke Pizza during the evening of National Night Out. Owner Jennifer Abbuhl has donated the money to the Wilhelmina Tuten Fund at Heritage Bank.
"So many people came up to us and let us know they were making a purchase to help Wilhelmina," Abbuhl said. "Everyone knew what was going on and many were glad to find a way to help her. We’re still taking donations for her. We have a jar set up on the counter."
The fund, which has been established by the Pembroke American Legion Auxiliary, has received $850 so far. Auxiliary President Suzie McGee said Pembroke Pizza is the biggest contributor to date, with the remainder of the funds being smaller donations from residents throughout the community.
On Friday, McGee set out six additional money jars throughout the city. Those wishing to contribute may now due so inside Alco, Harveys, Bedingfield Pharmacy, Pembroke Pharmacy, Owens Building Supply and First Bank of Coastal Georgia.
Another way to help is to purchase a $1 raffle ticket at the Pembroke Dairy Queen. Owner Sue Hobbs said the winner will receive a cake and every dollar received will go into the Wilhelmina Tuten Fund.
"I’ve been seeing Wilhelmina behind the counter at Dollar General for years," Hobbs said. "She’s a hard worker, and I respect that. I just had to do something when I heard what happened."
"Even though a couple weeks have passed, this situation is still as big as it ever was," said Linda Carlson, manager of the Pembroke Dollar General – where Tuten has worked for many years. "This town is an uproar. There’s hardly a customer that comes in that doesn’t ask how she’s doing. All we can do is keep her in our hearts and minds and pray that she gets better soon."