Cherry Olds

Cherry Olds, a Polk State College information systems professor, has been charged with trying to murder her husband, James Olds, a paraplegic Multiple Sclerosis patient who spent two decades as the city of Lakeland’s safety director.

Olds, 59, turned herself in at the Polk County Jail on Sunday after her adult son told sheriff’s deputies Thursday that she had tried to suffocate her 57-year-old husband, a Sheriff’s Office spokeswoman said.

A Sheriff’s Office news release said James Olds told deputies his wife “held a pillow over his face and attempted to suffocate him twice on Wednesday. After the first attempt, James yelled at Cherry, “You almost killed me!” to which she replied, “That’s the point, [expletive]” and tried to put the pillow over his face again. During the second attempt, James turned his head to the side so that he could breathe. The Olds’ son heard the altercation and ran into the room, and believes he interrupted his mother from further injuring his father.”

Cherry Olds has been charged with attempted second degree murder and abuse of a disabled adult, officials said.

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“I do believe she was overwhelmed. I would say she just snapped. She just snapped,” Olds told WTSP – 10 News. “I love her still. I really do.”

And he told The Ledger, “I still love her. That’s probably the sick and sad thing: I still love her but I am afraid to be around her.”

Cherry Olds has been placed on administrative leave from PSC pending the outcome of the investigation and her classes have been assigned to other faculty, college spokeswoman Rachel Pleasant said.

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A Lakeland native, she started teaching at PSC in 2002 after working as a network administrator for 11 years. She has degrees from Jacksonville State University and Capella University.

James Olds retired in July after 20 years and four months as the city’s manager of safety and emergency management. He served in the U.S. Army Chemical Corps before that.

He’s been an adjunct professor at Florida Southern College and other colleges and was honored by the Lakeland City Commission in January 2012 for receiving the Thomas Yatabe Award from the state Emergency Response Commission.

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Barry Friedman founded in 2015 as the culmination of a career in print and digital journalism. Since 1982, he has used the tools of reporting, editing and content curation to help people in Lakeland understand their community better.

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