Chester County authorities arrested a teenage boy they say broke into an elderly woman’s home, choked her, tied her up, robbed her, and left her for dead with a bag over her head in a dirty storage shed.
“You’ll be with Jesus soon,” the teen allegedly told the 72-year-old woman before strangling her into unconsciousness.
The woman somehow survived for four days in the dark, unfinished space before worried relatives found her, dehydrated, malnourished and injured, but still alive. She was taken to Paoli Hospital for care and is expected to recover.
“The charged juvenile is lucky that the victim did not die,” Chester County District Attorney Tom Hogan said. “If the victim had not been found by her family, the defendant would be facing murder charges.”
The boy, 17, has instead been charged with attempted homicide, robbery, burglary, strangulation, aggravated assault and related offenses for the Feb. 22 attack at the woman’s East Brandywine home, where she lives alone, according to Hogan’s office. His name hasn’t been released because he is a juvenile, although Hogan said his office will ask a judge to try the teen as an adult.
The day of the attack, the boy – who’s from Media – had escaped from Devereux Brandywine, a nearby behavioral health facility for juveniles, according to Hogan’s office. (He returned to Devereux two days later.)
The woman’s ordeal began when she got home from work around 7:30 p.m. – and within seconds, someone grabbed and hit her, threatened to kill her and choked her until she blacked out, according to Hogan’s office.
Her attacker then duct-taped a grocery bag over her head and bound her arms and legs with zip ties, duct tape and cloth, according to Hogan’s office. As he left, the robber tossed the woman into the unlit storage area under the stairs, where she remained with no food or water until a relative found her the morning of Feb. 26, authorities said.
The teenager, meanwhile, took off with the woman’s credit cards, car (a 2013 silver Fiat 500), phone and other items, authorities said.
Police traced the stolen credit cards and found they’d been used in Maryland the same day as the attack, and surveillance video from the Maryland store showed the teen emerging from the victim’s car and using her credit card, according to Hogan’s office.
Detectives also later found the victim’s stolen phone at Devereux. A Devereux employee told police the teen had bleached his shoes when he returned to the facility; police later got the shoes and found the soles’ pattern matched footprints left in the victim’s home, Hogan’s office said.