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Couple Beat And Raped Woman In Their Care, Police Claim
By Dave Reynolds, Inclusion Daily Express
December 16, 2002

GALLATIN, TENNESSEE--Police have few answers as to why Mary H. Letner, 58, was savagely beaten, raped, and then left to die in the freezing cold on the evening of December 7.

Letner's caregivers, Steven L. Budd, 61, and Rebecca M. Budd, 45, were being held Wednesday in the Sumner County Jail each on $100,000 bond.

Neighbors said that the Budds had been caregivers for Letner, who had mental retardation, for the past 15 years, but that the couple had moved into the area just five months ago. State officials confirmed that Letner was not receiving services through the Tennessee Department of Human Services at the time of her death.

Police believe that the Budds beat Letner with a broken broom handle, a plastic pipe and a tire tool, then raped her with the broom handle. The assault apparently took place over a period of several hours. They then forced Letner to sleep on the floor of a utility room, with the door open to the freezing temperatures.

Three children between the ages of 6 and 10 that the Budds were babysitting witnessed the crime, Sheriff's Department Major Don Linzy told the Nashville Tennesseean.

Authorities were not contacted until the next morning, when a neighbor was summoned to try to revive Letner. But Letner had died during the night.

The Budds have a December 18 court date to face charges of second-degree murder.

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