EAST NEW YORK, Brooklyn (WABC) -- A man is under arrest after an elderly woman was attacked in her Brooklyn home -- and her Life Alert may have saved her life.
Police say the 88-year-old victim allowed the attacker into her apartment on Vermont Street around 1 p.m. Wednesday afternoon.
According to next-door neighbor Gregory Damien-Worrell, the suspect is his nephew who also lives next door to the woman.
He said the victim has known her assailant for 20 years -- almost his entire life.
Once the attacker was inside the victim's home, he put his hands around her throat and dragged her to the basement before assaulting her, authorities said. Sources say the victim was also sexually assaulted.
He ran away but was arrested nearby. It is not yet clear what charges he is facing.
Police say the victim's Life Alert contacted EMS and may be responsible for saving her. She suffered facial injuries and is expected to survive.
Damien-Worrell said his nephew suffers from mental health issues. He said he isn't making excuses for him and admits the allegations are troubling.
"People with mental disorders need help, I'm not saying it's right for anything to happen to anybody in any way," Damien-Worrell said. "He's my nephew, I love my nephew, I beg, I plead. He's my nephew, and I know he needs help."
Damien-Worrell apologized to the victim on behalf of his family while his nephew undergoes a psychiatric evaluation at Brookdale Hospital.
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Police: Life Alert may have saved elderly woman attacked in Brooklyn home