Caregiver Accused of Trying to Murder WWII Veteran by Beating him With his Oxygen Tank

Michael Nicholas Tristano
Michael Nicholas Tristano

As a staff sergeant flying in bombing raids over Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, Michael Nicholas Tristano flirted with death on a recurring basis.

The former ball-turret gunner cheated the reaper again last week, but instead of dodging German anti-aircraft guns’ flak from inside a B-17 “Flying Fortress” bomber, police say the 91-year-old veteran survived a savage attack inside his North Port home by the caregiver entrusted with his welfare.

Police say Tristano’s caregiver, whom he had known for at least a decade, clubbed him in the head multiple times with an aluminum oxygen tank and left him on the floor of his home to die on the night of May 15.

But Tristano’s will to live was too strong. Police say the caretaker, Elena Erickson, 45, of North Port, called paramedics to Tristano’s house on White Ibis Drive the next day shortly after 8 a.m. Tristano was treated at Venice Regional Bayfront Health and is now recovering at home.

Erickson told first responders she found Tristano lying in a pool of blood and urine near his dining room table. She said she hadn’t been at the home since 10:30 p.m. the previous night.

Detectives searched the home and found no signs of forced entry. They did, however, find a bloodied portable oxygen tank.

On May 20, Tristano was in good enough health to speak with the detectives. He said that the night he was attacked, he and Erickson were arguing about her payment.

Tristano told detectives that at about 9:30 p.m., Erickson struck him in the head twice with the oxygen tank while he was sitting at the dining room table.

The two wrestled over the tank and Tristano received more wounds to his wrist and forearms.

Tristano said he sat back down at the dining room table while Erickson attempted to clean up his blood with paper towels for about an hour. She refused to let him leave the table, and at 10:30 p.m., he said she struck him two more times with the oxygen tank.

Tristano fell to the floor and began to drift in and out of consciousness. He said Erickson finally left sometime between 5 and 6 a.m., before returning to the home a few hours later to call 911.

Click here to continue reading…

The Herald-Tribune