Philadelphia woman, 81, pursues man who stole purse, hits him in the nose and gets purse back


January 15, 1992|By Knight-Ridder

PHILADELPHIA SNB — PHILADELPHIA -- Virthel Jones, a small, wiry 81-year-old resident of West Philadelphia, was sweeping her porch when a man came up, asking for help. He said he had a toothache and asked her for aspirin.

She told him to wait on the porch. He didn't. He followed her into the house. He would regret that decision yesterday.

After taking the pills, the man left.

That's when she noticed that her pocketbook was gone.

Jones, who is barely 5 feet tall, chased the man as he hustled down the street. "I said to him, 'Hey, I forgot to tell you something.' "

He waved her off. She kept after him.

She caught him two blocks from her home, and tried to wrestle her purse from him. He pushed her to the ground.

A neighbor, Sammie Stewart Jr., saw the man running and caught him. He wouldn't let him go.

Jones soon caught up.

Stewart held the man up and urged Jones to "hit him." She did. "Hit him again." She did -- in the nose.

Police arrived and arrested a suspect who is 5 feet 11 and weighs 171 pounds.

He had to be treated at a nearby hospital for nose injuries.

Jones got her purse back, money intact.

Back on her porch, Jones admitted, "For me, it felt good catching him and hitting him." Asked if she wasn't afraid, Jones said: "When you take my money, you hurt me."

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