CHEEKTOWAGA, N.Y. -- Police said an 88-year-old man from Cheektowaga admitted to officers he tried to kill his wife, who longtime neighbors said was suffering from dementia.

Martin Turkiewicz pleaded not guilty Monday to assault and attempted murder.

Police say Turkiewicz hit his 86-year-old wife Rita in the head with a hammer in her room at the Garden Gate Rehab Center on Union Road, where she is a patient. Investigators say Turkiewicz was very emotional when they arrived at the facility.

Rita was then taken to a Buffalo hospital with injuries described as serious.

"She must of asked him to do something because it's not like him to do it. If he did it, he did it out of the love for her," said Betty Homac, a Cheektowaga resident and neighbor of the Turkiewiczs. "Just making him out to be a murderer, and he's not. He's a loving husband and a good father."

Police say they are investigating, but would not initially speak to a motive.

Martin Turkiewicz was ordered held without bail. He's set for a preliminary hearing Wednesday in Cheektowaga Town Court.