Seasoned detectives are calling it one of the more horrifying crimes they’ve investigated, according to Hernando County Sheriff Al Nienhuis.
An attack the sheriff described as “bloody and gruesome” occurred midnight Thursday in a Brooksville assisted living facility.
Brian Murphy, 23, broke into the Atria Evergreen Wood in Spring Hill, where he worked as a part time security guard, and beat two residents in the face with a car jack, according to the Hernando County Sheriff's Office.
The attack left Miriam Lepp, 88, and Joseph Giambrone, 83, with most of the bones in their faces broken, Nienhuis said. They were both lying helpless in their beds when the attack occurred, according to Murphy’s arrest affidavit.
"Both of the attacks […] were beyond brutal," the sheriff said.
A nurse witnessed the attacks and hid until a security guard intervened. The guard held Murphy down until deputies arrived.
Residents were told about the beatings Thursday morning during an emergency meeting.
Fran Sciortino, whose mother lives in the facility, found out as she came to pick up her mother for a dentist appointment.
“I was just in shock really," she said.
Nurse Dawn Marie Clark, who visits Evergreen Woods twice a week, said she feels for the victims.
"My heart goes out, because any injuries they sustained, the road to recovery is a lot longer than for you or I,” she said. “A lot longer."
The sheriff said Murphy was recently homeless and living in his car. At the time of the attack, he may have been looking for food and may have been on drugs.
Atria Evergreen Woods Executive Director Susan Harris wouldn't answer questions about Murphy but did make a brief statement Thursday.
"We are saddened and horrified by the events that happened at the Atria Evergreen Woods last night. Our hearts go out to the families and the victims, and we'll continue to work with law enforcement as long as we are needed," Harris said.
The sheriff said the two victims are in serious condition.