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Minnesota Man Charged With Killing Mom, 89, Over Bedbug Infestation

An 89-year-old Minnesota woman's only child is charged with killing her by suffocating her in a garbage bag after beating her with a sculpture and choking her didn't work — all because their home was infested with bedbugs, authorities said Monday.

Michael Theodore Gallagher, 62, was being held without bail pending a hearing scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Hennepin County District Court on a single count of second-degree unpremeditated murder.

IMAGE: Michael Theodore Gallagher
Michael Theodore Gallagher in arrest photos. Hennepin County, Minnesota, Sheriff's Office

Prosecutors said in a probable cause affidavit filed Monday that Gallagher called 911 on Friday to report that he had killed his mother, identified as Patricia Ann Gallagher, inside the apartment they rented in downtown Minneapolis.

According to the affidavit, Gallagher told police he was "despondent," fearing that their landlord was going to refuse to renew their lease because of the bedbugs, and his mother "has a lot of things to move."

Gallagher said he had tried several methods to eradicate the pests, but nothing had worked, including chemicals — which he said he was afraid had gotten into the water system and had contaminated it — according to the affidavit.

Prosecutors said Gallagher told investigators that he climbed on top of his mother as she was lying down and bludgeoned her five times with a sculpture — of himself. When she didn't die right away he also tried to smother her with a pillow, they said.

When that didn't work, Gallagher tried to choke her with his hands, but she fought back, prosecutors said. Finally, according to the affidavit, he suffocated her by holding a garbage bag over her head.

Five hours later, he called 911, police said.

An autopsy found that Patricia Gallagher died of "complex homicidal violence," citing several blunt force injuries to her head and evidence of neck compression.