Purse Snatcher Broke 98-Year-Old NC Woman's Hip

12:01 PM, Jul 12, 2013   |    comments
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Asheville, NC (ACT) -- Friends of a 98-year-old woman injured when a robber snatched her purse say the attack has shaken and angered many in the neighborhood along Emma Road.

Dixie Knupp was waiting for a ride to work as a volunteer at a nursing home when she was attacked about 2 p.m. Wednesday, said Teresa Hart, a clerk at the Fastbreak store on Emma Road just northwest of Asheville.

Knupp is well-known in the community, Hart said. She suffered a broken hip and remained at Mission Hospital in fair condition Thursday, a hospital spokeswoman said.

"I know everybody in the neighborhood is upset," said Hart, who witnessed the attack and called police. "We're thinking about petitioning the DA to make sure the charges are not reduced or plea bargained."

Buncombe sheriff's officers charged a Leicester woman early Thursday in connection with the robbery and assault.

Dusti Mackenzie Smith, 33, of Odonald Road, was charged with assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and robbery with a dangerous weapon, according to warrants at the Buncombe County magistrate's office.

In both charges, the weapon referred to was the suspect's vehicle.

Knupp lives near the convenience store. She was walking to the store's parking lot when her attacker drove up beside her, Hart said.

Knupp always came to the store to wait for a ride to her volunteer job because her driveway is difficult to enter and exit, Hart said.

Hart watched as the robber grabbed Knupp's purse and sped away. Knupp, who uses a cane, lost her balance when the thief grabbed her purse.

As Knupp reached for the vehicle to keep from falling, her hand touched the side of the moving vehicle and she spun and fell, Hart said.

"It's just such a shock to see something like that in real life," she said.

Knupp remained alert after falling and was able to provide Hart and sheriff's officers with a good description of the robber.

Investigators also got a good description of the vehicle, along with images from the store's video surveillance cameras, and arrested Smith at her home without incident.

Hart described Knupp as "a beautiful Christian lady. She's very determined to live and share her faith. She will fight to the end."

Knupp's family members could not be reached.

Smith also is a suspect in a robbery attempt at about 2:45 p.m. Wednesday in the parking lot at the Ingles store on New Leicester Highway, sheriff's office spokeswoman Natalie Bailey said.

In that case, a woman accosted another woman in the store parking lot and demanded her purse. The attacker wasn't able to get the purse and left in a vehicle of similar description to the one used in the earlier robbery. No charges had been filed in that case Thursday.

Smith was being held at the Buncombe County Detention Facility. Bond was set at $50,000.

Written By: Sabian Warren, Asheville Citizen-Times

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