91-year-old Toledoan fends off would-be purse thief

The Toledo Blade is reporting that a would-be purse snatcher thought he had an easy mark: a frail-looking elderly woman. But Saturday afternoon, says the Blade, "when the thief approached 91-year-old Katherine Woodworth in a West Toledo parking lot and demanded her purse, he got more than he bargained for. He got a whuppin' instead."

From the story:

    Angered by the thought of being robbed, Ms. Woodworth, a tiny woman with gray hair and glasses, who normally wears a hearing aid, turned her purse into a weapon and repeatedly struck the man until he fled.

    "He just made me mad," Ms. Woodworth said. "I wasn't really thinking, I just hit him."

    Ms. Woodworth said yesterday she didn't feel like she did anything special in fending off her attacker in the Kmart parking lot on West Alexis Road.

    She said she arrived at the store about 3:45 p.m. to pick up some items when a man walked up to her and announced he was taking her purse.

    "I didn't have my hearing aid in and I thought he said that he was going to take my pulse," Ms. Woodworth said with laugh.

    "Then he said it again that he was going to take my purse and I said, 'No, you're not.' "

According to the report, the would-be purse-snatcher ran away but by that time another woman in the parking lot noticed the struggle and took a description of the suspect's vehicle and a license plate number. Police told the Blade the suspect is Matthew C. Spradlin, 20, of Walbridge. The newspaper says Spradlin was arrested shortly afterward at the Kroger Food and Pharmacy, 833 West Alexis Rd., where store employees accused him of taking a purse from a shopping cart inside the store before customers and employees ran him down.

As is typical for Toledo police after incidents of successful self-defense, Sgt. Tim Hanus told the newspaper he "does not recommend that elderly women start taking up arms against youthful purse snatchers."

    Hanus said the best policy is to play it safe and get a good description.

    "Your health and safety is more important than any possession that you have," Sergeant Hanus said.

    Ms. Woodworth doesn't consider herself brave.

    "I'll be 92 in August and I guess I've got more nerve now than when I was younger," Ms. Woodworth said with smile.

    "I felt sorry for him because I don't like to see anyone get in trouble, but I guess he had it coming. What a waste of life and time," she said.

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