14-year-old boy with Asperger’s syndrome beaten to death in Tennessee

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (WKRN) — A Tennessee man accused of beating his 14-year-old brother to death last week is described by his aunt as a “narcissistic bully” whose mother was afraid of him.

David Matheny, 33, and his mother, Rebecca Greenwood, were arrested Saturday morning on charges of criminal homicide in the killing of Sayeed Neilson.

Police said Greenwood called 911 around noon Friday to report finding Sayeed, her 14-year-old son, dead in the family’s home in Hermitage, Tennessee.

“[Sayeed] didn’t deserve any of this,” said Rachel Duncan, Sayeed’s aunt. “He’s supposed to go on his first date and have his first kiss. He never got any of that, and it’s not fair.”

Duncan said Greenwood told her the boy had fallen in the tub the day before and “bumped his head real hard” but that Greenwood claimed she did not realize how badly he was injured.

“I wanted to believe that,” Duncan said.

Rebecca Greenwood & David Matheny
Rebecca Greenwood & David Matheny (Courtesy: Metro Nashville Police Department)

According to a warrant, Greenwood claimed she and Matheny, her older son, checked on Sayeed multiple times that day, then went to a bar for drinks and checked on him again before going to bed that night. Greenwood said the next day, she and Matheny went to the grocery store to buy cleaning supplies, cleaned the home, then went to check on Sayeed, whom they found unconscious.

Sayeed was pronounced dead at the home. During the investigation, police determined the teenager’s injuries were not consistent with a fall.

Detectives said Greenwood later admitted she had watched as Matheny punched the teenager and “stomped on his head” during an altercation. She said she told Matheny to stop but walked away without making sure the attack had ended, police said.

Sayeed Neilson
Sayeed Neilson (Submitted by family)

“I just wanted to know why? Why didn’t you protect him? Why didn’t you call someone?” Duncan said through tears. “That’s your baby. You should always protect your child. I know it’s both her kids, but Sayeed was a baby, only 14 compared to his older brother, who is 33.”

Sayeed was living with Asperger’s, an autism spectrum disorder, and for the most part, was like any other child his age, Duncan said. He had just started high school, and he loved Star Wars and Halloween.

Duncan said she learned over the weekend that her own mother, who lived in the home as well, was allegedly also being abused by Matheny.

“The more you get to know him, he’s a narcissistic bully. A domineering kind of personality that always has to have his way, always has to be right, always has to be in control,” Duncan said, adding that his own mother was afraid of him.

Greenwood and Matheny, who were also charged with evidence tampering and child abuse, remained in custody Monday morning without bond. Their arraignment was scheduled for Tuesday morning.

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