A 24-year-old West Bethlehem woman pepper sprayed and beat a 77-year-old city woman in the face and head until she bled, then stole $2,000 in jewelry and nearly $1,300 in cash before fleeing Saturday, according to Bethlehem police.
Latasha Serrano of 1951 Hillcrest Road apparently knew her victim, according to the arrest affidavit. She had provided home nursing care for her late husband, police said.
The alleged robbery and assault took place in The Landings apartment complex off of Catasauqua Road on the city’s West Side, in a building with a Valley Park South address.
According to the affidavit, Serrano, wearing a hoodie, sunglasses and gloves, rang the victim’s doorbell at about 3:30 p.m. Saturday asking for help. Serrano said her vehicle was broken down and that she was in the area from Harrisburg visiting a sickly aunt, police said.
The victim allowed Serrano to come inside to use the telephone, police said. After pretending to use the phone, police said, Serrano turned on her host and pepper-sprayed her in the face, then started to hit her in the face and head.
The police blotter report issued before the arrest said the assailant had used a vase to beat her victim, but the affidavit made no reference to that.
After the beating, which required the victim to receive stitches in her head and left ear at St. Luke’s University Hospital, Serrano dragged the woman into her bedroom, police said. Then, according to the affidavit:
- Serrano picked up the victim’s purse and told her that she needed $2,000. Serrano said that “she owes someone money and they were after her.”
- The victim told Serrano that she would give her all the money she had in her purse. Serrano told her victim that she did not want to hurt her anymore. The victim then took the purse, pulled out $1,286, and handed it to Serrano.
- Serrano then took about $2,000 worth of assorted gold necklaces and rings from the victim’s jewelry box. Then she ripped the telephone from the wall and told the victim that she wanted to make sure she didn’t call the police. Then Serrano took the telephone with her.
- During an interview with police at St. Luke's, the victim said she recognized her assailant as one of her late husband’s caregivers. Police were then able to verify that Serrano was employed with Aaron Healthcare Inc. and had provided care to the victim’s husband on numerous occasions.
Serrano was charged with robbery, aggravated assault, theft and receiving stolen property—all as felonies. She was arraigned before District Judge Wayne Maura and committed to Lehigh County Prison in lieu of $25,000 bail.