AUBURNDALE, Fla. -
At 92-years old, Margaret Bair knows a thing or two about using her head. But after a home invader tied her up and forced her in a bathroom at her Lake Lena home Thursday morning, it was her head that helped save her life, literally.
"He had put duct tape on my arms behind my back, and duct tape over my mouth," Bair said. Left on the floor with no means to cry out, Bair managed to force open the door to her bathroom and get to her feet.
Still bound and gagged, she stumbled out her back door, across her next door neighbor's lawn and to the front entrance. But she couldn't use her arms to ring the doorbell for help.
"I used my head," she laughed. "I bumped it with my head. They said it sounded strange, but it worked," Bair said.
Perhaps most terrifying was the initial encounter, when Bair was outside in her garden and saw the robber standing in her doorway. He was carrying an axe.
"He picked up the axe like he was going to chop my head off," Bair said.
Instead, the suspect ordered her inside. Bair refused. That's when he dragged her across some concrete, cutting her skin.
"I had blood around my arm," Bair said. She was forced into the bathroom, and despite having tape across her face, she tried asking him what he wanted.
"He said he wanted money," said Bair, who described how he wanted to take her to a bank and withdraw a thousand dollars from an ATM.
"And I said, 'I don't know how. I've never used an ATM,'" she said. The robber didn't ask about it again.
Bair said the suspect barricaded her in the bathroom using a chair, and she could her him rummaging through her belongings. He stole $50 from her purse, and her computer, Bair said.
Beverly Scott, Bair's next door neighbor and long time friend, was also robbed by the suspect. But she said her property was the last thing on her mind.
"He dragged her into the house. She had scrapes on her," Scott said. "What kind of a man thinks he's so courageous to drag a 92-year old woman?" she asked.
"That's what really makes me angry."
Neighbors along Lake Lena said they often leave their doors unlocked, but Scott said she was starting to lock up in the afternoon after seeing high-profile crime cases in Polk County. She never thought it was an issue at 9:30 in the morning.
"And I went off and left my door open," Scott said. "Not anymore."
Auburndale police said the suspect was described as in his 20's, and wearing a black, zip-up hoodie. Investigators said he stole Bair's gray 1993 Mercury Grand Marquis.
Bair said despite the attack, she plans to get back outside to her garden as soon as possible.
"I'm kind of sore. I guess I'll be sore tomorrow," Bair said. "Being dragged around. I'm 92-years old," she laughed.
Scott marveled at how spry her neighbor was, even after being attacked during a home invasion.
"She went over to the next door neighbor's with the duct tape still on her mouth and her hands tied behind her back. Rang the doorbell with her head," Scott said.
"Now that's pretty good. I think she's a hero."
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The Port Richey Water Department has shut down water service to the eastside of Highway US 19.