Escaped mental patient jailed in sledgehammer attack on brother,sister-in-law

Friday, June 9th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

ENID, Okla. (AP) -- A man who escaped four years ago from a mental hospital attacked his brother and sister-in-law with a two-pound sledgehammer Thursday and threatened to kill their two grandchildren, police said.

Officers arrested Stephen Armstrong, 47, about six hours after the 2 a.m. attack, when he was found sitting in the parking lot of Enid's shopping mall with cut marks on both arms. He did not resist arrest and sits in Enid's city jail on $500,000 bail, police said.

Armstrong escaped four years ago from the Colorado Mental Health Institute in Pueblo, Colo., police said.

Two charges of assault with intent to kill have been lodged against Armstrong in connection with the assault on his brother, Roger Armstrong, 54, and his wife, Hilda, 49.

Stephen Armstrong also faces two charges of assault with a dangerous weapon for allegedly threatening to use a sledgehammer to kill the couple's grandchildren, 10 and 12, who also were in the mobile home in east Enid.

Roger and Hilda Armstrong underwent surgery at a local hospital for fractured skulls and bleeding in the brain. Both were in intensive care Thursday night.

Roger Armstrong told police he was sleeping on a couch when he felt a sharp pain to his head. He awoke to find Stephen sitting on top of him, hitting him with the sledgehammer, police officer Kevin Bezdicek said in an affidavit filed in Garfield County District Court.

Hilda Armstrong said she awoke when she heard her husband screaming. She said Stephen Armstrong hit her in the head with a sledgehammer and then with a cast iron pot, Bezdicek said.

The two girls said Stephen Armstrong threatened to kill them, but then left in their grandparents' car, Bezdicek said.

The couple said they didn't know what prompted the attack, although they asked Stephen Armstrong to move out of their house Wednesday, Bezdicek said.