Elderly White Woman Fights Off Black Criminals

Robbery survivor never robbed of her mettle 85-year-old fought through pain to stay alive.

By RICHARD STEWART August 1, 2007 Houston Chronicle (extract)

HOLIDAY LAKES - A more fragile woman might have been killed when two burly robbers grabbed her in her bed in the pre-dawn darkness, dragged her through her house, hit her twice on the head with a hammer and tied her to a chair. But 85-year-old Tillie Black proved her toughness a week ago when she struggled against the blood and the pain to get herself loose and crawled - slipping in and out of consciousness - to a phone to call 911.

That call helped authorities capture two suspects in a chase that ended in a pasture...Back home after five days in the hospital, Black insists she intends to continue her life just as she has for years...A deep gash on the right part of her forehead has 13 stitches in it. Another gash, farther back in her silver hair, has more stitches. Dark bruises cover her face and arms. "I don't know why they had to hit me with a hammer," she said. "I wasn't trying to fight with them."

The press never mentioned race, but local press photos showed Eddie Jermaine Johnson, 18, of Rosharon, and Vincent Goree Woodard, 22, of Missouri City were both black. On July 25 one them grabbed each of her arms and began dragging her toward her dining area. "I wasn't talking to them," she said. "They were just talking to each other.

I was afraid that if I talked back to them or tried to fight them, they would kill me." They kicked and hit her. They bruised her finger trying to pull off a ring and talked of cutting off her finger to get it. She felt two searing blows to her head with the handle of a hammer.

The men put a shirt over her head and used a purse shoulder strap to tie her to a chair with her hands behind her. They ransacked parts of her house and took her purse with $60 in cash and left in her 2001 pickup truck. She managed to crawl to a telephone and called 911 and a neighbor.

The criminals smashed the truck into a patrol car and headed toward several officers who were on foot. The officers fired a total of 27 shots to stop the truck, Johnson, the passenger, bailed out and surrendered. Officers jumped into the truck to capture Woodard. Woodard has a long criminal history, authorities said. At the time of his capture, he was out on bail on a charge that he hit an Angelton police officer and then escaped from jail last year.