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Dr. Candice Matthews, left, 97-year-old Odeal Buhl, State Rep. Ron Reynolds and Iowa City Councilwoman Arnetta Murray participate Tuesday in the “No More Elderly Cruelty in Any Community” rally in Houston.

IOWA COLONY — Fearing someone attacked her 84-year-old father while out for a walk, Iowa City Councilwoman Arnetta Murray is fighting to stop elder abuse.

Murray’s father, the Rev. James C. Hicks went missing around 10 a.m. Nov. 15. Her mother called that evening to say Hicks had gone for a walk to the local grocery store near their home on Martin King Boulevard in Houston and not returned.

After praying over the situation, Murray posted about her missing father on social media and received 290 shares within the hour, she said. In that same hour, Murray received a call that a good Samaritan had dropped her father off at Hermann Memorial Hospital in Pearland, 8 miles from his home, she said.

“I was wondering how he could make it from Houston to Pearland,” Murray said. “It wasn’t just no accident. My daddy’s eye was just big. Somebody hit him in the eye. Somebody hit him upside the head, because his whole left side of his face was swollen.”

Hicks has dementia and is unable to answer questions about what happened to him, saying only that he fell, which Murray does not believe, she said.

“My mother said he left the house. He went walking. He was going to the grocery store in the neighborhood and he had on a suit and a jacket,” Murray said. “I guess he didn’t make it to the store, and for those eight hours, we have no recollection on what happened.”

The family filed a police report, she said. Hospital staff told her the person who dropped him off there did not give their name or provide any information about where they found him, Murray said.

“If he was such a good Samaritan, why didn’t he leave his name?” she said.

She believes someone assaulted her father because the bruising, gash and bump are all on his head and face, while he would have injuries elsewhere in his body if he had been hit by a car, she said.

Murray had a rally Tuesday to raise awareness about the perils faced by senior citizens with the theme “No More Elderly Cruelty in Any Community.”

“We’re gonna start going into various communities and making sure that the elderly are taken care of and showing churches, communities how to make sure that our elderly people are not targeted,” Murray said.

Murray is starting her campaign in Houston, because that’s where her parents have lived for 50 years, but plans to bring it to Brazoria County and address the issue with state lawmakers, she said.

“I cried. I’m hurt,” Murray said. “I can’t believe somebody would bother an 84-year-old man who was a minister who’s been married to my mom 61 years, who hasn’t bothered anybody but has always been a pillar of that community. So it hurts, I’m mad and angry. I have a plethora of feelings, but I’ve taken those feelings and tried to create action by it.”

Gayla Murphy is assistant managing editor of The Facts. Contact her at 979-237-0155.

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