Topsfield man suspected of killing his mother

David Rogers and Brendan Lewis

A Topsfield man remained in custody Wednesday as the Essex County District Attorney’s office investigates whether he should be charged for murdering his elderly mother, according to an Ipswich District Court document.

Robert F. Friberg, 44, of Great Hill Road, was arrested last Friday after police responded to a report of a domestic incident involving Friberg and his 72-year-old mother, Priscilla, at the same address. A day later, Priscilla Friberg died at Boston Medical Center.

“Topsfield and State Police, in conjunction with the medical examiners office, are investigating her death to determine whether it is connected to the alleged assault,” Essex County District Attorney spokesman Steve O’Connell said.

In his report, Topsfield Police Officer Shawn Frost wrote the victim claimed her son struck her with a telephone, causing a deep bruise on her left forearm. Frost then spoke to the son who admitted he had been drinking but denied hitting her.

The confrontation began, according to Frost, when Robert Friberg asked his mother for a ride to pick up a prescription. When she refused, he became enraged, shaking his fist in front of her face. Fearing for her safety, the victim picked up the phone to call the police. That’s when the suspect wrenched the phone from her hand and struck her with the receiver, according to the report.

“She stated that Robert then began screaming profanities at her and that she became scared and fled to a neighbor’s house,” Frost wrote.

Robert Friberg was arrested and charged by domestic assault and battery of a person over 60 and witness intimidation. A blood alcohol level test was administered at the station and it was determined that his blood alcohol concentration was .249. The legal blood alcohol content level in Massachusetts for driving a car is .08.

Robert Friberg was later arraigned at Ipswich District Court in Newburyport and transferred to the Middleton Jail where he was being held under $25,000 cash bail. Robert Friberg has no previous arrests for domestic assault and battery but has been charged three times for driving while under the influence of alcohol, according to a court official.

Frost wrote that by the time Robert Friberg was brought to the station for booking, Priscilla Friberg had been rushed to Beverly Hospital. Frost was later told that it appeared the victim may have suffered an aortic aneurysm. She was then transferred by helicopter to Boston Medical Center where she later died.