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Tennessee mother, stepson charged in killing of 14-year-old boy with autism

Rebecca Greenwood (left) and David Matheny
Rebecca Greenwood and David Matheny. Photo: Metro Nashville Police Department)

A Tennessee man beat his teenage 14-year-old stepbrother with autism to death while their mother watched and did nothing to stop it, an arrest warrant alleges.

Sayeed Neilson, who had autism, appears to have died from assault-related trauma. His mother, Rebecca Greenwood, 52, and her stepson, David Matheny, 33, are charged with criminal homicide, aggravated child abuse, and evidence tampering.

Greenwood called 911 at 11:50 a.m. Friday to report that her son appeared to be deceased. Greenwood and Matheny’s initial story was that Nelson fell in the shower on Thursday and hit his head. They said Matheny got Nelson to his feet, helped dry him off, and assisted him into bed.

Greenwood told officers that she and Matheny checked on him several times before going to a local bar for drinks.

Greenwood and Matheny said they purchased cleaning products at a grocery store Friday morning, cleaned the house, and subsequently found Nelson unresponsive in his room.

Detectives saw that the injuries to Nelson were inconsistent with just a fall. Greenwood and Matheny were taken to police headquarters for detailed interviews, during which Greenwood admitted to seeing Matheny punch Nelson and kick him in the head. She admitted to telling Matheny to stop the assault before walking away without ensuring that he did stop.

During his interview, Matheny admitted to having an altercation with his stepbrother but denied causing him serious injury.

Officers believe the pair bought supplies and cleaned the house to destroy evidence of Nelson’s death.

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