Tons of concerned citizens and activists have been scouring the city of Houston, on the lookout for the violent predator who broke into the Sunnyside home of a 95-year old woman and viciously beat, robbed and sexually assaulted her on, of all days, Martin Luther King, Jr. Day.
According to family members, Ms. Ophelia Outley was headed to bed for the night at around 11 p.m. on Monday, January 18, when it is believed that a man removed her air conditioner and broke into her home, assaulted her and demanded money from her.
Outley, who is a World War II veteran and great-grandmother, was found the next morning, January 19, lying in her own blood by a neighbor who brought breakfast to her home.
According to the family, Outley had her shoulder and several other bones broken; had her underwear removed, which indicates she was sexually assaulted; and had to lay on the floor all night, unable to move, until someone found her in the morning.
Outley was taken to the VA hospital where she was being treated and monitored for her injuries. According to Army service records from the U.S. National Archives and Records Administration, Outley enlisted in the Women’s Army Corps in March 1943 in Houston.
The physical injuries and scars are being dealt with by doctors, but the emotional scars continue to run deep in the community, especially with members of her family.
“She (Outley) was in the kitchen, returning to her bedroom,” said Nicole Sherman, the granddaughter of Outley. “Someone came in the house, grabbed her, twisted her arm, broke her shoulder, put her on the floor and tried to cover her head, and in the process, gave her a black eye and busted lip. I am very disturbed, angry and upset that somebody could violate her this way.”
According to the family, Outley suffered this savage and vicious assault, all so the attacker and sexual predator could steal her television – which is all he left with.
At a press conference this past Wednesday, January 27, community activist Quanell X delivered a strong rebuke and called on the attacker to turn himself in to law enforcement before he is found by members of the community.
“If you’re smart, the jail is the safest place for you because if we find you, you won’t need a jail cell,” said Quanell X. “You like beating up old women? You like robbing old women? Well I’ll tell you what, if we find you, we’re going to give you your chance to prove how much you want to fight real men. If we find you, you won’t rob nobody else’s grandmother. We will deal with you where we find you.”
Quanell X went on to say that he believes the attacker is from the community and that people within the neighborhood know who he is. He challenged everyone in the community to come forth, share information and refuse to accept this kind of vicious crime in their neighborhood.
Travis McGee, who has been the president of the Sunnyside Garden/Bayou Estates Civic Association for 11 years, says that crime has increased since he took on this role and has been advocating for change for years. McGee wants the Houston Police Department, elected officials, business leaders and members of the community to begin getting involved in order to reverse this dangerous trend before it gets worse.
“I’m pretty pissed off about what happened,” said McGee. “While this is not a common occurrence in our neighborhood, to have it happen even one time, is too many. This reminds me of my grandmother, so it really hurts. Truthfully, I hope we can find him before the police do.”
McGee said that they held an emergency community meeting and passed out over 500 flyers back on January 26th, to get the word out about what happened in the neighborhood. He also states that they have been communicating back and forth with the Houston Police Department, but as of right now, this criminal has not been captured, is still on the loose and there are no current leads. They are asking for anyone with information to step up and say something.
The Houston Police Department has classified the incident as an “ongoing investigation” and a “potential sexual assault,” according to spokeswoman Jodi Silva.
The question that many individuals have in the community is: Are Our Senior Citizens Even Safe Anymore?
In a story that the Forward Times (FT) reported in February 2014, entitled “Attack on Our Elderly! Who’s Looking Out for Them?,” we brought you the story of then 66-year old Effie B. Thompson, who was brutally beaten and attacked in the driveway of her Fifth Ward home on January 6, 2014, by 39-year old Marcus Benitez and another male suspect who were burglarizing her home. According to family members, Benitez, who also lived in the neighborhood, began casing Thompson out at her house and watching her every move, before attacking her.
On that day, Thompson had returned home after running some errands, when she noticed a truck backed up and parked in her driveway. She got of her car and surprised Benitez and the other male suspect, before asking them what they needed. Benitez informed her that he had gotten a call that she was having problems with her security system and he was there to fix the problem. Thompson informed Benitez that she did not have a security system, which is when he forcefully grabbed her around the neck and proceeded to beat and stomp her to the ground with no mercy.
As Thompson lay there on the ground, Benitez kicked her and stomped her head into the concrete until her skull cracked open and part of her brain was visibly dislodged to the ground. Not only was her face swollen, Benitez left her unconscious with blood splattered all over the ground and carport. Thompson was left unconscious for about an hour before anybody found her. During that hour timeframe, Thompson was able to gain consciousness and pull herself up by grabbing a hold of her fence. One of her neighbors came outside and noticed Thompson holding on to her fence and petitioned for someone to call 9-1-1 while he helped her.
According to law enforcement officials, Benitez and the other male suspect stole her cell phone, TV, computer and wallet. Law enforcement officials were able to obtain DNA evidence from some evidence at the scene, which tied Benitez to the crime and people in the neighborhood, who had recognized the vehicle Benitez drove, were able to assist by coming forward and providing critical information to make the arrest. Benitez was taken into custody on January 10, 2014, but the other suspected criminal was never captured.
This is becoming an all-too-common phenomenon and needs to be seriously addressed before it continues to fatally impact the most vulnerable parts of our population – our elderly.
Anyone with any information concerning the attacker in the Outley case or his whereabouts is urged to call Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS (8477).