EAST POULTNEY, Vt. — A Vermont man killed his 80-year-old mother by smashing her chest with a table and striking her in the head with liquor bottles because he thought she was possessed and he was “casting out the devil,” said a police affidavit filed in court Tuesday.

After breaking one bottle over her head and then continuing to beat Gertrudes Alwardt with a second bottle that wouldn’t break, Roderick Geronimo, 49, allegedly poured water into her nose and mouth because he was “trying to bless her like holy water” and ensure she was dead, the documents said.

Geronimo, wearing an orange prison jumpsuit, pleaded not guilty Tuesday to second-degree murder in the death of Alwardt at their East Poultney home. Police described Alwardt as Geronimo’s adoptive mother.

The court scheduled another hearing next week to discuss Geronimo’s mental competency.

Police were called to the East Poultney home Monday afternoon after receiving a report of an unresponsive woman. Alwardt was taken to a Rutland hospital, where she was pronounced dead.

A preliminary examination by the regional medical examiner determined Alwardt suffered multiple skull fractures.

Geronimo initially told police Alwardt had fallen in the kitchen.

When asked by Detective Sam Capogrossi if he felt he had hurt or killed his mother, Geronimo answered yes.

Geronimo then asked for an attorney, but withdrew his request and said he wanted to tell the truth. Capogrossi consulted with the office of the Rutland County state’s attorney and put in writing Geronimo’s decision to speak without a lawyer present.

While Geronimo was alone in a room he was heard whispering into a recorder he “killed his mother because she was evil and that God told him to do it,” the court document said.

Alwardt was sitting at the kitchen table with her back to the sink. “He then said he started saying all kinds of things, thinking that he was casting out the devil,” the affidavit said. He shoved the table into his mother’s chest three or four times, breaking the leg on the table because he was lifting it and smashing it down so hard.

Geronimo told Capogrossi that before Monday he had not thought about killing his mother, but he “was getting messages in his head and he figured out what the messages were,” the affidavit said.


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