Community Horrified by Vicious Attack on Beloved Woman, 88, During Home Invasion Robbery in San Jose - NBC Bay Area
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Community Horrified by Vicious Attack on Beloved Woman, 88, During Home Invasion Robbery in San Jose

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    NEWSLETTERS

    The investigation into the beating of an 88-year-old San Jose woman during a violent home invasion robbery intensified Wednesday as did the the community's anguish over the victim's plight. Jean Elle reports. (Published Wednesday, Sept. 14, 2016)

    The investigation into the beating of an 88-year-old San Jose woman during a violent home invasion robbery intensified Wednesday as did the community's anguish over the victim's plight.

    Flo Douglas remains in the Intensive Care Unit with severe trauma to her head and face. There has been no change in her condition since Tuesday, when she was hospitalized, friends say.

    But for now, her family has put a stop to hospital visits. 

    Santa Clara County sheriff's investigators went door to door Wednesday around the 200 block of Cragmont Avenue in East San Jose, searching for possible witnesses and home surveillance video.

    They are trying to find the person or people who on Monday viciously struck the elderly woman and ransacked the house in which she lives alone. The suspects are also accused of snatching jewelry off Douglas' neck and stealing her car from the garage. 

    Neighbors were on edge Thursday night.

    "I have parents in their 80s," said neighbor Laurie Martinez Baja. "They live alone so it hits close to home."

    Jesse Haro agreed, saying: "I have to call my wife and tell her to lock the gates and turn on the alarm while she is at home."

    Douglas told investigators that she was beaten by two Latino men, who broke into her house through a side door.

    The level of violence was unusual, deputies say, and has made them take the case personally.

    "We all have a grandmother, we have wives, we have sisters, and this is a horrible act committed to a person that we usually hold in high regard in society," said sheriff's spokesman Reginald Cook.

    Douglas' face on a sign greets visitors at the St. Paul Missionary Baptist Church, where she has been a member and leader since the 60's. Many there say they are praying for the friend they have dubbed Mother Douglas.

    "I was really shocked," said her friend, Vernice Carter. "Someone called me on the phone and it was like part of me had been violated."

    There is also grave concern at the Creative Hair design shop in San Jose, where Douglas worked as a beautician for 40 years before retiring in 2015.

    Shopowner Gerald Caison described Douglas as a "loving individual" and promised those responsible, "Your time will come."

    Friends who went to visit Douglas Wednesday remain discouraged.

    "She was moving a little bit, but it's sad," neighbor Phyllis Silva said. "We're all hoping for the best."

    Deputies believe the suspects entered the house and attacked Douglas, and then left. They robbed the residence upon their return a few hours later, they said. Sources, meanwhile, told NBC Bay Area that the savage attack began Sunday and continued into Monday.

    Investigators say the assailants also stole Douglas' car, crashing through the gate and fence in front of the residence. They ditched the vehicle down the street, where a neighbor noticed the windows and sunroof were open. The woman went to Douglas' house and found her beaten and nearly unconscious, and called 911.

    Community members will gather for a meeting Thursday night at St. John Vianney Community Center to discuss how to protect their neighborhood.

    "This is a time when we come together as a community as neighbors as humans to help each other out," resident Darlene Tenes said. "We want to jump into action to take steps to protect our area going forward."

    Haro hopes the sheriff's office can help the neighborhood develop a plan to look out for one another so what happened to Douglas doesn't happen again.

    "We should know our neighbors, figure out how we can help our neighbors," Haro said, noting that perhaps they could use phone calls or some sort of technology "to make sure people are OK."

    People with information have been asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 408-808-4431.

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