Career criminal arrested in elderly attack

Elevator attack caught on video surveillance
August 21, 2008 8:05:09 PM PDT
A career criminal currently on parole has been arrested for the attack of an 85-year-old Brooklyn grandmother inside an elevator -- after being turned in by members of his own community. Police say 37-year-old Cornelius Abson made statements linking himself to the August 14 mugging inside her apartment building at 1015 Washington Avenue in Crown Heights. uring questioning, he reportedly apologized for the attack on Lillian France.

Officials say detectives are now trying to link Abson to a string of 11 similar assaults on the elderly in Crown Heights, Kensington and Flatbush in the past two months. He is now charged in at least four of them.

Abson has at least 11 prior arrests, many of them for robbery, grand larceny and stolen property. According to police reports he has been in and out of prison since 1990. He most recently served three years behind bars for robbery and was released on parole in May.

"The large segment of the community saw this video, and there was outrage," said Commissioner Kelly.

Kelly says it was a veteran detective who arrested the suspect a six years ago for a similar crime, and recognized the MO of this crime.

Ultimately police detectives showed the video to the Abson's parole officer who is said to have identified Abson as the person who was in the elevator with the woman.

A $14,000 reward was posted, partly by Councilwoman Letitia James and Brooklyn District Attorney Charles Hynes, to encourage the community to rat out the mugger.

Video surveillance of Abson's attack in the elevator was distributed by police and widely broadcast. But France, who is still hospitalized at Kingsbrook Jewish Hospital for her injuries, said she had not seen the video of the attack.

"They didn't allow me to watch the television," she said from her hospital bed in Brooklyn. "As a matter of fact," she said, "they took the television."

France suffered internal bruising of her throat, as well as lacerations and bruises on her face.


WEB PRODUCED BY: Lakisha Bostick & Scott Curkin

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