Local News

Community Shaken From Beating Death of Elderly Woman

Posted October 23, 1997 12:00 a.m. EDT

— Police spent the day Wednesday searching for clues and suspects in the beating death of an elderly woman late Sunday night.

The Franklin County Sheriff's Department found 90-year-old Mary Alice Harris dead and her live-in friend, 88-year-old Graham Perry, severely beaten. Harris died from severe internal injuries and Perry is in stable condition at the Duke Medical Center, suffering from a punctured lung, a broken arm, a broken leg, and head injuries. News of the attack on the elderly has shaken both the community and the people hired to protect it.

Detectives found the pair Monday, and the Sheriff's Department, the SBI, and the Highway Patrol have been trying to find out who committed the crime ever since. All this has Franklin County residents on guard, especially senior citizens.

Some residents said the area is too spread out to have a community watch, but they have their own safety system.

"At night time I usually call around you know and see if everybody's all right," said Merrie Douglas, neighbor. "A lot of times I'm by myself."

For those without a plan, the Franklin County Sheriff said to make their houses as secure as they can.

Residents understand investigators have their hands full, but they wish there was some way they could be notified when a crime like this takes place.

Robbery appears to be the motivation behind the attack. The sheriff's department said the person or persons who did this fled with an unknown amount of cash. The department urges anyone with information to call.

Reporter: Len Besthoff