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Husband Of Robbery Victim Talks About Wife's Ordeal; Suspect Blames Drug Issues For Attack

Reported: Dec. 31, 2013 9:08 AM EST
Updated: Dec. 31, 2013 9:59 AM EST
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CHARLESTON, W.Va. (Stefano DiPietrantonio) - Beth Whiteley looked and sounded pretty good, considering she’d been stabbed with a screwdriver and beaten.

Eyewitness News talked with her at her bedside, surrounded by her loving family. She told us her attacker had asked her for money and when she refused, he grabbed her by the hair and began to beat her.

"Her head was completely bandaged, her hair was matted with blood,” said Whiteley’s husband, John. “She was shaking from the adrenaline and she was really in bad shape."

Jerry Smith, 39, is accused in the beating, stabbing and robbery of Whiteley, 64, on Monday on Virginia Avenue West. He was arrested later that day. She was transported to the hospital and is in serious condition, police said.

When Whiteley saw his wife in the intensive care unit, it was a grim sight. Police said she had been attacked at her mortgage office at Five Corners in the middle of a Monday afternoon, by a stranger she had befriended.

"He (Jerry Smith) had been coming in to her business, had some hard luck stories, his mother had died, things like that,” Whiteley said. “She'd helped him out financially and she would sit there and talk with him, have coffee with him."

But Smith, the man who Charleston police said attacked her, acknowledges the stories of hard luck were all lies. He was living with his mom, who was very much alive, and he was out of work and desperate.

"Just in the need of money,” Smith said. “I'm a drug addict."

Whiteley said police believe his wife was attacked with a screwdriver.

“She has a number of puncture wounds in the back of her skull," he said. "He also just beat on her.I just talked to her in the hospital room. Her face is all swollen, she's got puncture wounds all over her head, you just had coffee with her, then you turn around and attack her? What were you thinking?”

Eyewitness News pressed Smith for answers.

“I wasn't thinking,” he said, shrugging his shoulders. “I really wasn't thinking at the time, I just needed money, and I just snapped."

The attack was brutal. Whiteley said his wife "was trying to crawl under her desk for protection and he beat on her and stabbed her and was trying to get her rings off her fingers and he couldn't get them off and he was choking her with her necklace, trying to break that off,"

Smith said he regrets what happened.

"I really, really do apologize for what I've done,” Smith said.

Asked whether Whiteley should forgive him, he said, “I hope she does," as he was being led away in handcuffs.

Whiteley said the attack on his wife "kind of destroys your trust in human nature."

Police knew exactly where to find Smith. They said he had given Beth Whiteley his name and address a couple of weeks ago, the first time he asked her for money. They picked him up right where he had told her he lived. His bond is set at $250,000.

Beth Whiteley hopes to move out of ICU on Tuesday.

-- Eyewitness News Photo of John Whiteley



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