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‘She just turned it over to God:’ Prayer halted assault on 91-year-old, family says

MARION COUNTY, Fla. — An intruder who broke into a 91-year-old woman’s home in Reddick early Sunday and viciously beat her stopped when the devout woman started praying, her family said.

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The woman, who WFTV is not identifying, remained hospitalized with a heavily bruised face and skin from her arm torn off Tuesday, the woman’s niece reported, while showing pictures taken at the hospital.

However, she was in good spirits and personally okayed her family’s conversation with WFTV – and made a few jokes in the process, they said.

“She’s beat up pretty bad, but she’s a very Christian lady,” Wanda Lasher said. “She said there came to a point where she couldn’t fight back anymore, and so she just turned it over to God and started praying.”

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The assault happened around midnight Sunday, deputies said, when a man broke into the victim’s home. Lasher added that the man, who she called “sick,” practically beelined for the bedroom where the woman was asleep, straddled her and began punching her.

The victim told Lasher she received at least four heavy blows to the face and described the attacker as a young man.

The praying began when the attacker ripped the victim’s clothes and turned her over.

“She said after that, he just got up and he walked out the door,” Lasher said. “She slammed the door behind him and locked it.”

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The victim told family members the attacker never asked for anything, which makes the family believe robbery wasn’t the motive. They believe he was there to rape and kill the woman, possibly as part of a gang initiation.

For several reasons, including the fact that the house was set back from the road, the family believes the attacker is local or at least familiar with the town.

Deputies did not confirm many details of their investigation but said every detective has been involved in sifting through the evidence the attacker left behind.

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“The sheriff wants this guy in jail yesterday,” Lt. Paul Bloom said. “We understand that the Reddick community is upset with this heinous act.”

Bloom said they’re particularly interested in videos, such as doorbell cameras, that show anyone moving about the town between midnight and 1 a.m. Sunday.

Bloom said when a suspect is arrested, they could potentially face life in prison.

“This kind of person does not need to be out amongst us,” Bloom said.

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