Ethel Williams just returned to her Scarlett Place home from church at the Salvation Army Sunday night when Cumberland County authorities said Eric Summers, 37, of Fayetteville, broke into her home and allegedly started beating her with a tire iron.
"I said, 'Eric, don't do this to me,'" she said. "I was trying to get away from him and I turned and he was still beating me in the back."
Summers allegedly robbed Williams of the Bible she was carrying, which looked like a purse.
"I can't believe he did it to me. I just got a warm heart for him," Williams said. "I hope the Lord forgives him for it. I'm sure he will.
Despite being hit in the head nine times, Williams was able to escape.
"Her objective was to escape. That was the biggest thing, that I think she was focused on. I think the reason she is alive today is that she was able to escape," said Lt. Sam Pennica of the Cumberland County Sheriff's Office.
Summers told authorities said he went to Williams' home because he thought someone was breaking in. Cumberland County deputies said Summers forced his way into the home to rob Williams.
"She had several blows to her head with that tire iron. She is very fortunate to be living today," Cumberland County Sheriff Earl 'Moose' Butler said. "This lady has spent the biggest part of her life working at the Salvation Army helping people. "That's what her whole life's work has been."
"To see a person go in her home and strike her on the head with a tire tool trying to kill her over whatever he could get, it tells you what a sick society we live in," he said.
Summers is charged with attempted first-degree murder; second-degree burglary; robbery with a dangerous weapon; assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill inflicting serious bodily injury and first-degree kidnapping.
Williams' injuries required 78 stitches to her head. She was released from Cape Fear Valley Medical Center and is recovering at her daughter's home.
Summers is a dialysis patient. If a judge orders he be held in jail, he could be transferred from the Cumberland County jail to Raleigh's Central Prison, where he can receive treatment.
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