GPD: Disabled man, 78, beaten, stabbed in home invasion
Published: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 8:04 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 10, 2012 at 11:44 p.m.
Beaten, stabbed, tied up and left for dead by two robbers, Paul Quandt somehow dragged himself through his bloody kitchen late Monday night seeking help.
Using cooking oil to loosen his bindings, the 78-year-old disabled man got to his electric scooter and made it to a neighbor's house before falling unconscious.
Quandt remained in critical condition at Shands at the University of Florida Wednesday morning after surgery Tuesday to relieve pressure on his brain, authorities said.
Two cousins — one of whom worked as an aide in Quandt's house — have been arrested and charged in the attack in The Gardens, a section of the Blues Creek community off Northwest 43rd Street.
Quandt is the latest victim in a string of recent home-invasions in area communities — including a murder Friday in Union County — that have been marked by their brutality.
"(Quandt) had life-threatening injuries, including multiple head injuries and numerous broken bones in his face," Gainesville Police Cpl. Angelina Valuri said. "This was a level of brutality that was completely unnecessary."
State Attorney Bill Cervone said the attacks appear sadistic.
"Some of it just seems to be the pure pleasure of doing it," he said. "It's not enough to just take the stuff.
"This has been a particularly violent group of people," Cervone said. "These have been bothersome in that the gratuitousness of the violence is almost an invitation to think that that is the whole purpose with these folks," he said.
"The violence is the disturbing part of it and there is no question we have more than a couple of them lately and those are more than we had before," Cervone added.
On Tuesday, Gainesville police arrested one of the suspects in the attack on Quandt, Austin Mark Jones, 22, of Fort White. He was held on multiple counts, including attempted murder, false imprisonment and home invasion robbery.
Also arrested was Maranda Joy Martin, 22, of 1524 NW 4th Ave., Apt. P. She has been charged with attempted murder, home invasion robbery, armed burglary and false imprisonment.
Detective Randy Roberts said the two are cousins and that Martin worked as a home aide, last visiting Quandt's house two to three months ago.
Roberts said detectives learned the name of the health care company that Quandt used and then tried to find someone with the company who could be associated with Jones, who they arrested earlier. That led them to Martin.
"We interviewed her for about six hours and obtained a confession," Roberts said.
Before he lost consciousness, Quandt told his neighbor that he had been robbed by a man and woman, both wearing masks, police said. The neighbor called police at 11:49 p.m.
Quandt had been tied up, beaten on his face and upper torso and stabbed in his right forearm. A stun gun was used on him and his hands were taped together.
The home was ransacked and a safe was missing from a bedroom closet.
Among the items that detectives believe were taken from Quandt's home were more than $20,000 worth of gold, silver and currency along with guns, cash, electronics and Quandt's cellphone.
"Officers at the scene said there was a lot of blood on the kitchen floor near the door to the garage," Valuri said. She said detectives suspect the intruders left Quandt for dead when they got out of the house.
Shortly after the attack on Quandt was reported, Sgt. Steve Girard spotted a white Cadillac outfitted with a rear platform to carry an electric scooter, which matched the description of the car taken from Quandt's home.
Lt. Mike Schibuola said Girard spotted the car coming out of the nearby Weschester community and followed it as it headed south. Deputies from the Alachua County Sheriff's Office joined in the pursuit.
The chase ended when the Cadillac crashed into two vehicles at Southwest Fifth Avenue and 13th Street.
The driver of the Cadillac was identified as Jones. Before he was taken to Shands for treatment, police said a .380-caliber handgun fell out of the waistband of his pants. Officers also found latex gloves, a stun gun and a second gun in the car.
The neighborhood in Blues Creek — small homes that are all the same design and color — is well off 43rd Street and does not have a crime problem, residents said.
"I'm concerned about him. There was no reason for anything like that. It was basically helpless — he wasn't going to do anything," next-door neighbor Mike Brewster said.
Elinor Fritz, who lives nearby, said she was going to start a prayer circle at nearby Trinity United Methodist Church for Quandt.
Neighbors said Quandt did not get out and around much, primarily driving his scooter to the neighborhood's centralized mailboxes. They said Quandt often had house cleaners to assist in keeping up his home.
Gainesville police have had 69 reported home invasion robberies from 2009 through Tuesday. The Sheriff's Office has reported 12 from January 10, 2010, through Tuesday.
Police say most home invasion robberies are drug-related. In some cases, the home that robbers hit is not the one they intended to hit.
But a new home invasion trend in the area is targeting the elderly or disabled. Since August, at least six have occurred. In several cases, the elderly residents were tied up and beaten.
In some of the cases, the culprits knew the victims while others were strangers.
One especially brutal case happened in 2010 with the fatal beating of 96-year-old Lila Leach of Newberry. That case still has not been solved.
Gretl Plessinger, a spokeswoman for the Florida Department of Law Enforcement, said it does not appear that an increase of similar crimes has occurred statewide.
Cervone said in some cases, the suspects may have done work for senior victims — lawn work, repair work, home health, house cleaning.
"It certainly gives them entry. They can see what's inside somebody's home," Cervone said.