HELPER CITY, Utah (ABC4 Utah) – A dispute over a mailbox may have caused the death of an 85-year-old man, according to his family.
Max Heino’s granddaughter said her grandfather died last month from a blood clot that reached his brain. But it was an incident 10 days earlier that his family believes led to his death.
On October 17th, Heino was with his wife sitting outside on their property on Lincoln Avenue after he had taken down his neighbor’s mailbox that was falling off it’s post.
“My grandpa seen the mailbox that was attached to their mailbox and it was slightly falling off and it belonged to a neighbor that lived behind them,” said Felicia Garcia-Otero, Heino’s graddaughter.
The neighbor, identified by the family as 72-year-old Richard Tallent, 72. Who they thought only stayed there late at night.
Garcia-Otero said her grandfather allowed Tallent to use his post for his own mailbox even though he didn’t like it because he didn’t want to create problems.
“It was falling off so he decided to finish removing it and put it in his yard,” said Garcia-Otero. “So the guy did come back and seen that his mailbox was not there.”
According to Garcia-Otero, Tallent approached the Heinos who were sitting outside on their property.
“So he came up to my grandpa’s property and started a fight,” said Garcia-Otero. He kicked my grandpa three or four times in the legs and also punched my grandmother in the face and shoved the fence into her.”
She said her grandfather appeared to be okay that night but the next morning he had memory loss and was taken to the hospital.
About a week later, Heino passed away. Garcia-Otero said doctors told her it was due to a blood clot in his legs that caused a heart attack.
“I am so frustrated,” she said. “I am so upset because like, my grandpa is like my second dad. I grew up with him as a toddler and now as an adult.”
Tallent was arrested and was charged with two counts of misdemeanor assault.
ABC4 attempted to talk with Tallent who was outside a friend’s home, but he refused to speak. But his friend said Tallent was standing his ground and defended himself against the 85-year-old neighbor.
“Mr. Heino allegedly threatened Mr. Tallent that he was going to come outside the fence and kick his butt,” Damon Hampton said. “He told him bring it. He came out and engaged (Tallent) in a death threat and he determined stopping the threat by using one foot.”
He says Tallent is sorry that his neighbor died but didn’t feel he was responsible. He said Tallent’s neighbors have been out to get him to move out for years.
“If you figure when you have a vigilante and lynch mob neighbors that want you out of your home, what do you do?” he asked.
That’s not how Heino’s family saw it.
“It just sucks that I lost someone that I love so much,” said Garcia-Otero. “And I feel like nothing is being done.”
Helper City’s police Chief Trent Anderson said they have “thoroughly investigated” the case but everything is on hold until the autopsy report is finished.
If the autopsy shows the attack caused Heino’s death then more serious charges could be filed, said Anderson.
Garcia-Otero said that if the city or county health officials had prevented Tallent to continue living at the home, which they said was uninhabitable, her grandfather would still be alive.
Chief Anderson said Tallent was not allowed to stay in the home because it was not up to code, but he also said it was Tallent’s property and he could still be there.