A 66-year-old man from Hagerstown, Maryland, who walked around Pennsylvania’s York Fair with his wife on a leash was arrested on Saturday, September 15.
According to the York Daily Record, who viewed official court documents, an eyewitness reportedly saw Walter William Wolford Sr. leading his wife, Catherine Wolford, around the outdoor fair using a red nylon dog-style leash that was approximately eight feet long.
The witness told officials from the West Manchester Township Police Department that, at one point, the man “yanked the leash when all of the slack had gone out of it, causing [the woman’s] head to move backwards and for her to sustain red marks around her throat area.”
Emergency medical professionals attended to Catherine, who the police said “was very disoriented, did not know where she was [or] her own name, and spoke in gibberish.”
Walter then told the police officers that his wife was suffering from advance-stage dementia and had been given two years to live about five years prior. He brought her to the fair in 2017 — unrestrained — but she wandered off, and he couldn’t locate her for about 90 minutes. That’s why he attached her to the leash for this year’s outing.
He also claimed that it was originally wrapped around Catherine’s waist, but it had somehow moved upwards. He did admit to tugging on the leash when she attempted to walk away from him, but said he did it “gently.”
Police did speak to the couple’s son, Walter Wolford Jr., who was also at the York Fair. He stated that his father was not abusive towards his mother.
“I really don’t know what I did wrong,” Walter told the New York Post on Wednesday, September 19. “I was trying to keep track of my wife. She is three times faster than I am. That’s part of her dementia — she simply runs away.”
He said that this was the third time he felt the need to use the leash on his wife.
“I don’t really like using it but it was either that or not take her,” he said.
“I love my wife more than anything in the world, but it’s very difficult to take care of someone with severe dementia. They’re making me out to be a monster, but hurting my wife is the last thing I wanted to do.”
Walter was charged with one count of simple assault, according to the York Daily Record. He was arraigned and released on $5,000 unsecured bail, and has to go to court on October 18 for a preliminary hearing.