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Elderly Women Ambushed, Clubbed To Death; Witnesses Catch Alleged Attacker

July 8, 1986

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) _ A man allegedly beat two elderly women to death with a tire iron, then was pursued, caught and tied up after ramming a vehicle with his car and threatening others with the bloody tool, witnesses and officials said.

Robert W. Downing, 28, was held in Duval County Jail after horrified witnesses and others captured him Monday at the end of a mile-long auto chase. He was scheduled for a court hearing today on two counts of murder.

Police knew of no motive for the attacks on Culle Page, 80, and Olga Sass, 79, in a grocery store parking lot, said Sgt. Steve Richardson.

The women were walking through the lot at mid-morning when a man jumped from his car and began beating them with a tire tool, Richardson said.

Charles Cribb, owner of a sign company, said he watched in stunned silence at first.

″He made sure they were dead. I guess 10 or 15 seconds went by while he was hitting them. He meant to kill them - as in murder. I couldn’t believe it. It takes a few seconds before you realize something like that just happened in broad daylight,″ said Cribb, who ran toward the scene screaming for help.

After the attack, the man jumped back into his green Chevrolet, leaving the women’s purses on the ground. Several witnesses followed the car about a mile down the street. One even rammed it several times.

Mike Altice, an employee for a refrigeration company, was driving down the street in his company pickup truck when he was suddenly rammed by a man driving a green Chevrolet. The man climbed from his car.

″The tire tool had blood all over it,″ Altice said. The man, he said, yelled, ″I just killed two old ladies and I’ll kill you 3/8″

Altice wrestled the tire iron away from the man, and with the help of several other men was able to tie a rope around him. Altice didn’t know there really had been a killing a few minutes earlier - ″I wouldn’t have gone toward him if I’d known,″ he said.

Joe Roche, who hadn’t been involved in the chase, helped subdue the Chevrolet driver after he ran across the road and smashed Roche’s windshield with a tire iron.

″He was looking at me right in the eye and then he came around to my door trying to get in. That’s when I climbed over and went out the other door,″ said Roche. ″He wanted to hurt anybody and anything.″

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