Houston Forward Times

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05 February 2014 Written by  Jeffrey L. Boney

Attack on Our Elderly! Who’s Looking Out for Them?

Effie B. Thompson doesn’t quite remember every single detail of what happened to her on January 6, 2014, but the one thing she does remember is how she prayed and asked God to spare her life as she was being brutally beaten and attacked in the driveway of her own home. 

Thompson, 66, is a native of Houston, TX, and has lived in her Fifth Ward home on Etta Street and Firnat Street for over 47 years. Her house has been paid off for several years and has been the place where Thompson raised her children, as well as built long-time friendships and relationships with her neighbors in the community. It was truly the place she called home.

Thompson had a successful career with the State of Texas before retiring and coming home to take care of her mother, who suffered from Alzheimer’s. It was during that time of being a caregiver to her mother that she decided to begin a small business as a daycare provider.

Thompson, who has been operating a daycare business from her home for roughly 11 years, never had any problems in the neighborhood and just so happened to be closed on that dreadful Monday afternoon, when she was attacked by 39-year old Marcus Benitez and another male suspect who were burglarizing her home.

According to family members, Benitez, who also lived in the neighborhood, began casing Thompson out at her house and watching her every move, before attacking her.

Effie B Thompson 2 - CopyThompson returned home after running some errands, when she noticed a truck backed up and parked in her driveway. She got of her car and surprised Benitez and the other male suspect, before asking them what they needed. Benitez informed her that he had gotten a call that she was having problems with her security system and he was there to fix the problem. Thompson informed Benitez that she did not have a security system, which is when he forcefully grabbed her around the neck and proceeded to beat and stomp her to the ground with no mercy. 

As Thompson lay there on the ground, Benitez kicked her and stomped her head into the concrete until her skull cracked open and part of her brain was visibly dislodged to the ground. Not only was her face swollen, Benitez left her unconscious with blood splattered all over the ground and carport. Thompson was left unconscious for about an hour before anybody found her. During that hour timeframe, Thompson was able to gain consciousness and pull herself up by grabbing a hold of her fence. One of her neighbors came outside and noticed Thompson holding on to her fence and petitioned for someone to call 9-1-1 while he helped her.

According to law enforcement officials, Benitez and the other male suspect stole her cell phone, TV, computer and wallet.

Law enforcement officials were able to obtain DNA evidence from some evidence at the scene, which tied Benitez to the crime and people in the neighborhood, who had recognized the vehicle Benitez drove, were able to assist by coming forward and providing critical information to make the arrest. 

Benitez was taken into custody on January 10th and police released a sketch of the other suspected criminal who still has not been caught. Benitez was given no bond and has been charged with aggravated assault on an elderly person. 

This is becoming an all-too-common phenomenon and needs to be seriously addressed before it continues to fatally impact the most vulnerable parts of our population; our elderly.

In a story that the Houston Forward Times (HFT) reported on in late December, Conrad Alvin Barrett, 27, of Katy, Texas, near Houston, was charged with one count of violating the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act in connection with the “Knockout Game” attack of a 79-year elderly Black man that authorities say was racially motivated.

According to a federal affidavit filed in the case, Barrett allegedly “hit the man with such force that the man immediately fell to the ground. Barrett then laughed and said ‘knockout,’ as he ran to his vehicle and fled.”

Also in Houston, the family and friends of 72-year-old Alejandra D. Gueldner, of Houston are hoping that the public and police can help find her killer after she was found badly beaten, sexually assaulted and lying outside of a downtown business at 1200 Hardy at about 4:45 a.m., according to the Houston Police Department. 

Gueldner was rushed to a nearby hospital, where she died on January 22nd before she was able to tell police or her family any details about her attackers before she died.
  

A light colored SUV was seen driving by the spot where she was found lying, as they briefly stopped but eventually drove off. The driver of that vehicle has yet to contact police and it is unknown if the person has any connection to the case. 

Family and friends of Effie Thompson are grateful to God that she is still alive, but are concerned about her safety and the safety of other elderly citizens in Houston.  

Stephanie Ellis, 44, is one of Thompson’s four children and is struggling to gain an understanding as to what happened to her mother and why God would allow it to happen to her. 

“This needs to stop! They beat her like she was nothing,” says Ellis. “I grew up in the house where my mother was viciously attacked and I feel like the community needs to be unified now more than they’ve ever been because they are preying on our children and on our elderly.”  

Ellis believes that if the police can’t solve the problem of crime in the city, then the community needs to come together and become more vigilant to protect the community.  

“Blood was everywhere. I can’t sleep and I cry every day, knowing that my mom was done this way,” says Ellis. “She was the kindest person in the world, but just because you are good people doesn’t mean you are exempt from crime. We go to church, we live right. What did my mother do to deserve this? Nothing!”

Thompson says that she is having a hard time sleeping and has recurring headaches and complains about her shoulders and back, while still having multiple staples in her head. 

Thompson is a woman of faith and used that faith to deal with her ordeal. 

“He was so strong and overpowering,” says Thompson. “The entire time he was stomping me, I felt myself yelling and losing consciousness and I just prayed and asked God to be with me.” 

Thompson says that she did not know if she was going to be killed, but knew that her faith in God would be the only thing that would help her get through it. Thompson doesn’t hate the men that did this to her, but wants them held accountable for what they did. 

“I forgive these men, but I want justice to be served,” says Thompson. “I don’t ever want him (Benitez) to get out of jail, but I refuse to move out of my home and out of my neighborhood because of fear. God has not given me the spirit of fear.”

Anyone with any information concerning the missing suspect in the Thompson case or his whereabouts is urged to call Crime Stoppers of Houston at 713-222-TIPS (8477). If you have any information on the Gueldner case, you are encouraged to contact the HPD Homicide Division at 713 308-3600 or Crime Stoppers at 713 222-TIPS (8477).