BROOKSVILLE — Mark Springer has lived on typically-quiet Ivy Hill Lane for more than 20 years.
He was incredulous Tuesday after learning that his 77-year-old neighbor, a woman he described as warm and friendly, a “servant” to those with health problems, was hospitalized after a teenager broke into her home and tried to strangle her Monday.
“What the heck, man?” Springer said. “It happened right under our nose, without us even knowing about it.”
Springer said that the victim had been struggling emotionally since the recent death of her husband.
Randy Moses Haripel, 17, was arrested while driving the victim’s stolen car in Tavares in Central Florida, the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office said.
Haripel is accused of aggravated battery of the woman, whose identity is being withheld because she was the victim of a violent crime. The teen also faces charges of grand theft auto and home invasion robbery, according to the Hernando County Sheriff’s Office.
Haripel stole the victim’s phones and car, and more charges could be coming, the sheriff’s office said.
The Tavares Police Department had received a tip that Haripel and another person were driving a stolen car to area, records said.
According to the Hernando sheriff’s report, the victim was in her Ivy Hill Lane home when she heard a knock at the back door. When she opened the door, Haripel asked for a person by name, the report said.
The victim told him that no one with that name lived at the house and tried to close the door, but Haripel shoved his way in, knocked her down and tried to strangle her, the sheriff’s report said.
When the elderly woman awoke, Haripel was gone and so were her cordless home phones and her cell phone, the report said. The woman could not stand to go for help.
When Hernando deputies arrived at the victim’s home, they found her lying on the floor, suffering from serious injuries, the sheriff’s report said. The victim, who was taken to a local trauma center, could not say how long she waited for help, the report said.
Haripel admitted his involvement in the crime and implicated himself in other crimes, according to the report. He was being held at the Juvenile Detention Center in Ocala.
Details of the crime stunned Springer.
“This is a laid-back area,” he said. “I’ve been here since 1992, and I absolutely love it because of the peacefulness.”
Still, there has been somewhat of a shift in neighborhood dynamics, said Beverly Lambert, who lives several houses away in the Rolling Acres subdivision.
Records did not indicate where Haripel lives.
Lambert said that many residents in the area are elderly longtime homeowners, but that more renters have moved in recently.
Despite that, Lambert said that since 2002, the family had only once had an item stolen from a truck.
“But my husband didn’t lock the doors” on the truck, she said. “We don’t even know exactly when it happened. It must have been 2007 or ‘08.”
What the neighborhood is known for, besides its tree-lined streets and houses built on relatively large tracts, is its community yard sales, which sometimes last for days, Lambert said.
She and her family seemed surprised that a violent crime had been committed doors away.
“We knew it was a nice place when we moved in,” Lambert said. “We knew this was where we wanted to live.”