A disabled womanâs tidy, modest South Dallas apartment was long known as a refuge for those who needed it on rainy nights. She was found there Monday morning, lying beaten and raped among her ransacked belongings.
The woman, who many neighbors considered family, may have been left in the apartment for days. She remained in critical condition Thursday.
For 40 years she has been a fixture in the impoverished neighborhood near Grand Avenue and North Central Expressway.
âShe sat out here every day. I donât care if it was 105 out,â said Shirley Young, chatting with a half-dozen others in the shade beside the apartment building. âI donât care if it was 105 out.â
While she had an occasional temper and often relied on a church next door for food and clothes, on many nights sheâd been known to invite homeless people inside for a pot of beans or the like.
âTwice she got me in out of the rain,â said Shirley Williams, who wandered by the apartment Thursday and learned of the attack. âShe never bothered nobody.â
On Sundays, ministers at the barb wire-ringed church next to the apartment would set a speaker out back so the woman could sit outside and listen to the sermon, her cane leaned next to her chair.
âWhen youâd walk out that door, thatâs who youâd see first,â said Linda Turner, an associate minister at Oasis Baptist Church. When she didnât show up last weekend, her friends started to worry. She was diabetic, they said, and prone to falling.
At their urging, a manager checked her room Monday morning. She normally kept it meticulous, but now it was turned upside down: furniture shifted and belongings ransacked.
âI ran up there,â said a friend who didnât want to give his name. âI seen her on the ground and just started crying.â
Paul Baker, who has known the woman most of his life, went up a little later. âI turned around,â he said. âI couldnât stand the smell.â
The womanâs face was caked with blood, according to WFAA-TV (Channel 8).
Police initially filed an injured person report, but a crime scene unit returned on Wednesday.
In a second report, police said the woman had been sexually assaulted with a broom stick.
Managers said her door was undamaged, and a witness said her house key lay on the floor inside.
âWhoever she let in knew her,â said Baker, one of many who now wonder if the woman offered shelter to her attacker.
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