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Arrest of Stabbing Suspect a Relief to Elderly Victim

July 13, 1986|MICHELE L. NORRIS | Times Staff Writer

Eululia Newsom said she's finally getting a good night's sleep.

A woman has been arrested and charged with beating and stabbing the 93-year-old woman and faces 10 additional counts of murder, burglary, robbery and grand theft in connection with a string of thefts from elderly residents.

The murder charge stems from the death of a 91-year-old woman who had a heart attack while watching her son struggle with a female burglar.

Newsom, who said she survived the June 21 attack in her Athens home because she wears a pendant that enables her to summon paramedics or police in emergencies, spent a week in a hospital after the ordeal, which she said left her a "nervous wreck."

"Every time I close my eyes I can see her coming at me with that knife," Newsom said last week after she learned of the arrest. "At least now I won't worry so much about that wild woman coming back and trying to kill me."

Arrested July 5

Francis Louise Davis, 33, is accused of eight burglaries or robberies of elderly residents of Lennox, Athens, Inglewood and South-Central Los Angeles.

Davis was arrested July 5 during an attempted burglary in Inglewood. She was later charged in the death of the elderly woman, Fannie Lazarowitz, which occurred shortly after a robbery on July 4.

The suspect was linked to the other six cases by sheriff's deputies who noticed similarities in the crime reports and showed Davis' photo to the victims, said Detective Ronald Hayden of the sheriff's Lennox substation.

Described as 5 feet, 7 inches tall and weighing 115 pounds, Davis reportedly lives with her parents and young daughter in Athens, an unincorporated area between Inglewood and South-Central Los Angeles.

Investigators said they believe the suspect worked alone during most of the burglaries but may have had accomplices pick her up after the break-ins. All but one of the victims were older than 60.

According to charges filed last week in Inglewood Municipal Court, Davis confessed to some of the crimes, including the burglaries at the homes of Newsom and Lazarowitz.

Newsom said she was sleeping when a group of thieves led by a female burglar burst into her home, held a knife to her throat and demanded money. When Newsom refused to give them any, the ringleader beat and stabbed her and then hurled the frail woman into her bedroom closet so hard that plaster fell from the wall.

Threw Pendant Back

Before slamming the closet door and locking it, the woman yanked off the pendant Newsom was wearing but threw it back at her, saying it was worthless. The pendant--a remote-control device that she rents for $25 a month--enabled Newsom to summon help, but only after the thieves got away with about $17,000 in cash and other valuables.

"I'm surprised that I am even alive," Newsom said. "I've had two heart attacks, cancer operations and a stroke, but I've never gone through anything like this in my life."

Newsom said her recovery was aided by the hundred or so cards, letters and flower bouquets she received after the attack was publicized in late June. She and her 60-year-old son, Richard, have also received about $300 in donations to help rebuild their stolen life savings.

"It's awful that a person would have to go through what I did but it's easier knowing some people still care. After something like this happens, it's so easy to think that everyone is bad."

Investigators said the Newsom and Lazarowitz burglaries were the most violent of the eight cases in which Davis is charged. They said that in most of the cases the intruder would knock on an elderly person's door and ask to use the telephone or bathroom, and then would return later, usually in the early morning, to burglarize the home. With the exception of the Newsom case, the thief took small amounts of cash and valuables, investigators said.

Sheriff's deputies are investigating several other burglaries that involve a woman intruder. "We can't be sure that they are related but they all involve a female burglar and elderly people," said Deputy Jerome Beck, a homicide investigator in Los Angeles. "Female burglars are very unusual."

Many of the victims in all of the burglaries have been people who are unable to move to safer neighborhoods, investigators said.

"Skyrocketing housing costs have the older residents trapped. They have a hard time selling their homes for competitive prices because of crime, and they can barely afford to buy something else in today's market," Detective Hayden said.

Newsom and her son were planning to use the money stolen from their home to buy a motor home and leave the troubled neighborhood.

"I've lived here 60 years and I never thought it would get to the point where I am afraid to step outside," said Newsom, who has been burglarized seven times in 15 years.

Deputies said they fear they may have trouble persuading some of the elderly victims to testify against the suspect, but Newsom is undaunted.

"I don't think I'll ever really get over this," she said. "People are so afraid to talk, but if they don't, this kind of thing will just keep on happening."

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