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December 3, 2012

(UPDATED) Elderly woman assaulted at home near CHS

An elderly Cullman woman remained in stable condition at UAB Monday evening after she was attacked at her home near Cullman High School earlier the same day.

Cullman police said they were still reaching out to family members late Monday, and were not ready to release the victim’s name. The 85 year-old woman has lived alone at the residence, located at the corner of 4th Avenue and 14th Street, for many years. Neighbors called 911 at approximately 7:30 a.m. Monday to alert law enforcement the woman was in distress.

“This is somebody people in the area knew, and right now we have several concerned folks — and rightly so — who live on that street. For the foreseeable future, we will be increasing our patrols in the area as we work to investigate what took place at the home,” said assistant Cullman police chief Craig Green Monday evening.

Police are still uncertain of the motive behind the attack, though they have identified one person of interest outside Cullman County whom investigators are attempting to contact. They have not seen evidence that the assault was sexual in nature, nor does it appear that the perpetrator made a forced entry into the house — a factor that Green said, for the time being, prevents police from labeling the incident a home invasion.

Green said investigators would continue going through the home throughout the night Monday in an attempt to discern what, if anything, may have been taken from the residence. The victim sustained facial injuries that, so far, have prevented her from being able to speak to police.

“Because of her injuries; because they are mostly facial injuries, we are not able to communicate with her now, and I am sure that surgery will be in her near future if it is, in fact, not happening already,” he explained. “We still have someone from our office with the family now at UAB, and we will keep them there throughout the night. Hopefully we will be finished Tuesday with the investigation that is going on throughout the house.”

Neighbors had seen and spoken with the woman late Sunday afternoon, and had confirmed to investigators that her appearance at that time was normal.

But at 7:30 a.m. Monday, city fire and police were dispatched to the victim’s home after neighbors placed a 911 call reporting the woman needed assistance.

“At that point, we thought it was probably a medical call. The victim was transported by ambulance to CRMC. But the doctor who examined her believes it was not medical; he believes she was assaulted.,” Green had said shortly after the attack.

“Since this morning,” he later updated, “we have become fairly certain that this was in fact an assault. The mystery has been the motive behind it, and that is a slow process as investigators cover the house room by room; inch by inch.”

Contact the Cullman police department at 256-734-1434 if you have information concerning the incident.

Benjamin Bullard can be reached by e-mail at bbullard@cullmantimes.com or by telephone at 734-2131 ext. 270.

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