Man charged with attacks on woman, 76 Ferndale resident said she feared calling for help after two assaults

December 16, 1991|By Peter Hermann

A 34-year-old Ferndale man was in police custody yesterday, charged with terrorizing an elderly woman by twice breaking into her home, sexually assaulting and beating her, and stealing money.

The 76-year-old victim was so scared that she did not even call the police after the attacks on Nov. 24 and Nov. 28. But she called 911 for help early Saturday when the man returned to her Ferndale home armed with a pitchfork, police said.

The man -- who police said had known the woman for years -- apparently wasn't worried about getting caught. A few hours after the second attack, he returned to the woman's house to retrieve a jacket he had left behind.

"It is very unusual for elderly people to be sexually assaulted," said Officer V. Richard Molloy, an Anne Arundel County police spokesman. "This lady was very upset and scared the first couple of times."

William Anthony Burgess, of the 100 block of Linden Avenue, was charged with two counts of burglary, two counts of first-degree sexual offense, two counts of robbery and one count of attempted burglary.

Mr. Burgess was being held without bail last night at the Anne Arundel County Detention Center pending a review hearing this afternoon.

In telling her story to police Saturday, the woman recalled being awakened the night of Nov. 24 by a noise downstairs. She went to investigate and was grabbed by a man who tied a garment around her head and pushed her to the floor, she said.

The man allegedly took $30 from the woman's purse, dragged her upstairs and sexually fondled her, said Sgt. Robert G. Tice, of Anne Arundel County's Northern police district.

Sergeant Tice said the woman told police she fought back, managed to get the garment off her head and recognized her attacker. But police said they do not know how the woman knew the man.

Police said the man then beat the woman with his fist and threw her around the room before leaving. The woman suffered a fractured spine in two places, bruises all about her body and bite marks.

Sergeant Tice said the woman did not report the attack then, and it was unknown yesterday where she received medical treatment before this weekend.

Four days later, the woman said, the attacker returned and again sexually fondled her after putting a pillow over her head, and took $80 from her purse.

The last straw came about 2:15 a.m. Saturday, when the man allegedly returned and tried to pry open a downstairs window with a pitchfork. Sergeant Tice said the woman yelled the man's name at him and he ran away, and she called the 911 emergency number for help.

She was talking to police officers at the house when the suspect was spotted running through a neighbor's yard. Officers Charles Simms and Paul Merkel chased the man and caught him hiding behind a bush at a nearby house, police said.

The suspect, who was bleeding from his head after falling during the chase, was treated at North Arundel Hospital, police said.

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