Son Allegedly Drowns Mom, 63, in Backyard Pool of Affluent Long Island Home: Police

Denis Cullen, 23, faces charge of second-degree murder in death of his mother, Elizabeth, 63

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Police who answered a 911 call Wednesday about a dead woman in the backyard of her home in an affluent New York City suburb have arrested her son and accused him of drowning her in her own pool, PEOPLE confirms.

Prosecutors in Suffolk County say Denis D. Cullen, 23, allegedly put his mother Elizabeth, 63, in a headlock and dragged her into the deep end after a quarrel in which she scolded him for not taking his medication, reports CBSNewYork.

The alleged assault at the Cullens’ sprawling property on White Hill Road in Cold Spring Harbor, Long Island, occurred in an area of multimillion-dollar homes where crime is rare, reports NBCNewYork.

Suffolk County Police Commissioner Timothy Sini tells PEOPLE that Lloyd Harbor police received a call around 3:45 p.m. Wednesday “about a possible intentional drowning” at the address where Denis Cullen lives with his parents. It was unclear who placed the call.

“When they responded to the scene, they discovered the deceased in the backyard,” Sini says. “She was actually found outside the pool.”

He adds, “The evidence at the scene suggested that she was intentionally drowned, as the call indicated.”

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During Denis Cullen’s arraignment today on a charge of second-degree murder, Assistant District Attorney Robert Biancavilla said authorities had a video confession, according to CBSNewYork.

Cullen’s attorney said his client was not guilty. Bail was set at $5 million in cash, or $8 million bond.

Biancavilla said that after Cullen drowned his mother, he tried to hide the body by a shed. Then he stole her wallet and car and went into New York City, where he told his sister what he’d done, the prosecutor said.

“This is a son who killed his mother and the way he killed her, the way he describes how it was done, was chilling,” Biancavilla said.

“He said she struggled violently and he was very surprised that a woman of her stature could struggle as much as she did,” Biancavilla said. “He waited until she stopped moving and then carried the body out of the pool.”

After arriving on the scene, the Lloyd Harbor department alerted Suffolk County Police, which intervenes in homicide cases, and Suffolk County investigators arrived about 4:15 p.m., Sini tells PEOPLE.

“While we were processing the scene, the suspect returned and we arrested him, and that occurred about 5:50 p.m.,” he says.

The second-degree murder charge, says Sini, carries a sentence of 25 years to life in prison.

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