Woman arrested after 94-year-old robbed, beaten inside home

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UPDATE: Breanna Thomas, 23, of South Bend, was arrested and booked into the St. Joseph County Jail on preliminary felony charges of robbery and fraud after allegedly robbing a 94-year-old woman and beating her with a wrench. Tricia Harte's original story is below.


A 94-year-old woman is recovering after she was robbed and beaten with a wrench inside her St. Joseph County home Tuesday afternoon.

NewsCenter 16 spoke to the victim who wished her name and exact address not be released as her attacker is still on the loose. She was released from the hospital with a broken hand, cuts on her arm and back pain from when she was pushed to the garage floor.

It happened Tuesday afternoon at around 12:45 p.m. in the Oakmont neighborhood off of Juniper and Cleveland Rd. Multiple officers from the St. Joseph County Police responded, canvassing the neighborhood and looking for suspect descriptions.

"It's the worst thing in the 33 years that I've been here," said Greg Humnicky, a long-time resident in Oakmont, "We pulled off of Cleveland and saw all the squad cars."

The 94-year-old woman had returned home from the grocery store, pulled into the garage and then shut the door behind her, unaware of the danger that awaited her. The suspect, described as a lanky black man, was in the breezeway near the garage entryway.

He grabbed her purse and struck her several times with a wrench when she resisted. He pushed her to the garage floor, making off with the woman's purse, cash and credit cards.

"Anytime an elderly victim is involved it is a top priority for us," said Lt. William Redman with the St. Joseph County Police, "especially being physically struck yesterday multiple times. So that escalates the situation for us."

Officers scoured the neighborhood searching for any signs of the suspect or witness descriptions. But the suspect was long-gone, as was the wrench investigators believe he brought with him to the victim's home.

"Even the mailman was suspicious because he saw some guys over on Summers Drive asking him some questions the other day," Humnicky added.

Other neighbors said there were strangers going door-to-door in recent days asking about odd jobs, and gave descriptions of the individuals to police.

"Any time we have that we're trying to get as much information as we can. if there are videos later that we obtain that'll help us piece together from the physical description that was given to us by several of the neighbors here in the area," Redman added.

Family members of the victim were notified of unauthorized charges on the woman's stolen credit cards. Investigators are contacting the stores to see if security footage is available to identify the person using the cards.