There is more to the story of former officer’s stalking charge

Published 9:27 am Friday, June 20, 2014


In response to the article titled, “Former Officer Charged with Stalking,” from June 6, 2014, I would like to take this opportunity to share my concerns about the misleading impression the article may leave, in addition to raising awareness for a disease that more than 5 million Americans are living with today (according to

You see, like 130,000 other Virginians (, that former officer, my father, has Alzheimer’s disease. To a stranger, the behavior of an older gentleman frequenting city parks and historical places blaring music, and stopping to pay homage to these sites, seems strange; however, to the man whose memories are confined to those held in the long-term storage of the brain, including the places that have interested him since childhood, it is what he lives for- his new normal.

My father did not know the women who filed the charges against him. I only wish someone would have let them know that he is suffering from Alzheimer’s and is frequenting places that he remembers, including the park near their home, so they would know he had no ill intentions against them. I also wish someone would have contacted our family so that we could have dealt with this in a much different way, without courts and newspapers, which only adds unnecessary anxiety for all, especially for my mother.

For almost thirty years, my father dedicated his life to serving our community, making it a safer place. He did not come home talking about what he did all night, while we slept safely in our beds. It wasn’t until after he retired that we realized how much his job had impacted him, and within a few years, he was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s.

At times, I wonder if it was the brain’s way of suppressing memories of events he did not want to relive. Through his experience, I realize we need to do a better job supporting all the men and women who serve us, even when they move on to different phases in their life. This is a costly disease, especially, if like in dad’s case, there is no long-term health coverage. It also takes an emotional toll on the caregivers, as they watch their loved ones’ memories fade and behaviors change. Dad’s arrest and the publicity it was given prompted me to want to tell more of the story. He may quickly forget; however, we, the family members will remember how the community responds, especially as we go through the stages of grief associated with Alzheimer’s. The race is on to find a cure for the disease my friend calls “the long goodbye.”

June 21, 2014, a week before my dad turns 61, is the summer solstice- the longest day of the year. The Alzheimer’s Association marks this day as one of awareness, advocacy and support. From sunrise to sunset, teams around the world wearing purple will hold events to honor loved ones who are suffering with this awful disease. If you have a loved one with Alzheimer’s, you are not alone. I have found comfort in knowing the Alzheimer’s Association is there to help, and there are support groups in the area. If you would like more facts, information, or would like to advocate or donate to the Alzheimer’s Association, please visit

Dr. Angela Butler Bell
Daughter of Charles Butler