A badly beaten 68-year-old Ohio woman, her face fractured and pummeled to black and purple, decided to recount her ordeal Friday in a stouthearted televised interview to warn other senior citizens to be vigilant of their surroundings.
Beverly Johnson, who spoke from a hospital bed while in a neck brace, told WHIO-TV that she had been waiting for a medical appointment Thursday morning when she was attacked and robbed in the parking lot by a man who appeared to be in his late 50s. The attack happened in Springfield, Ohio, about 50 miles west of Columbus.
A Miami Valley Hospital spokeswoman, Nancy Thickel, told The Times that Johnson wanted to speak out to remind everyone, especially the elderly, to be cognizant about what's happening around them. Though brutish robberies happen, police said it was unusual for both the suspect and victim to both be older.
"I'm standing there talking to my son on the phone, and all of sudden, somebody grabbed me by the hair and the hand, and turned me around, just took his fists and went like that," Johnson said, feigning a punch.
Lt. Jeff Meyer of the Springfield Police Department said Johnson suffered two black eyes, a bloody nose and a split lip. Once swelling dies down, doctors will determine whether her facial fractures require surgery.
"As far as robberies go, to pick on an elderly female like that -- he got her good," Meyer said. "He caught her completely off guard. I don't think she could've expected this."
George Frost, her 47-year-old son on the other end of the phone, heard the attacker repeatedly tell Johnson to put her face down on the seat. Johnson said she thought she was going to get shot.
But the robber fled to his own vehicle after taking her wallet, with credit cards and $40, along with her purse, car keys and a SafeLink Wireless government-subsidized phone, Meyer said. A witness did not get a look at the robber's face.
With blood gushing into her hands, Johnson said, she ran into the Springfield Imaging Center, where she had checked in earlier. She collapsed in front of the counter.
Frost heard "thumping rap music" through the phone -- the robber apparently not realizing it was still on, Meyer said. Frost told The Times that he also heard the robber have a conversation in which he referred to the mugging of an "old girl." He stopped listening when he received a call from an imaging center worker, who told him what had happened.
"When I saw her, she was unrecognizable," Frost said by phone as his mother was being discharged Friday night. "She is on a fixed income, having car troubles, falling down a lot and needing X-rays and then you have some knucklehead taking her last $40 from her."
The case doesn't match any recent robberies and police are still investigating, Meyer said.
"Hopefully, someone will have the heart after seeing what's happened to her to come forward," Frost said.
Meyer wasn't sure if detectives had tried to track the phone, but Frost said SafeLink told him that they couldn't track it. He said that his mother was being issued a new phone but that SafeLink said it was unable to roll over the thousands of extra minutes she had purchased.