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    Mugger gains nothing as he batters couple

    He breaks a walking stick while beating the two, who are in their 80s.

    By MELIA BOWIE, Times Staff Writer
    © St. Petersburg Times
    published May 12, 2002


    TAMPA -- After Victor and Mildred Hall, both in their 80s, were mugged three months ago, they changed the routine for their early morning walks along 15th Street N in Seminole Heights.

    They left their valuables at home; the mugger who knocked them down took their watches. They walked later, about 7 a.m instead of about 5. And Victor Hall, 82, carried a thick wood walking stick, a gift from a concerned family member.

    It didn't help.

    Saturday, a man demanding money viciously beat the couple in the street.

    "The one side of my grandfather's face is just bashed in," said their grandson Dwayne Josephson, 33. "They'll never walk again. That's the first thing they said -- they'll never walk again."

    The attacker grabbed Hall as he passed and "body slammed him onto the ground and repeatedly demanded his wallet and money," said Tampa police spokesman Joe Durkin.

    Even though they had no money, the man continued the beating. That's when Mildred Hall, 81, "tried to pull the 200-pound suspect off," Durkin said. "So he stops attacking and begins punching the wife."

    When Mildred Hall collapsed, the attacker took the walking stick and broke it over her hip. He then continued kicking the couple, demanding money despite their pleas for him to stop, Durkin said.

    The Halls' next-door neighbor, hearing the commotion, looked outside and began screaming for help when she saw the beating.

    The suspect then walked to the passenger side of a black Dodge Neon with three other men inside "and just drove away casually," Josephson said.

    Tired and and angry, with a broken nose and two black eyes, Victor Hall spent much of the afternoon resting after he and his wife were treated at St. Joseph's Hospital and released.

    Mildred Hall was still terrified. She has a black eye, scrapes and a bruised hip.

    Family members said she was trying to relax by watching videos. The family's Mother's Day plans were canceled.

    Married for 63 years, the Halls have lived in a stone house with yellow sides and red trim for 50 years. Victor Hall, a carpenter and World War II veteran, built it to raise his family in. Mildred Hall planted a garden outside. Lush grapefruit and orange trees border the driveway.

    "Their lives are pretty simple," said Josephson, a computer consultant who moved in across the street when the neighborhood began to decline.

    The couple went to school at Hillsborough High School a mile away and became sweethearts there. To neighbors, the Halls are a fixture.

    She checks in on invalid neighbors; he is nicknamed "Scotty" for his Mr. Fix-It skills.

    "They come from a completely different time," Josephson said. The beating is "just unfathomable to them."

    Police are seeking the public's help, Durkin said. Anyone with information about the attacker -- described only as a black, 200-pound man in his 20s or 30s -- is asked to call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-873-8477.

    In the meantime, Josephson said he will be setting up surveillance cameras around their property and is asking anyone with information on the car that neighbors saw circling the area in the past week to come forward.

    "The people that did this, don't they have grandparents? How dare they?" he said. "These people should not be on the street."

    -- Times staff writer Jackie Ripley contributed to this report.

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