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87-Year-Old Woman Slain in 5th Run-In With Crooks

April 22, 1987

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) _ An 87-year-old woman who withstood four previous run-ins with robbers, including one she fought off with her bare hands, has been slain by an intruder, police said.

Leila M. Langford, who had lived in her modest stucco home for 17 years, was found there in a pool of blood Tuesday.

″There was some slight indication that a struggle took place within the residence,″ a police statement said. ″The house was not ransacked.″

Authorities said they would withhold a cause of death until an autopsy report is completed. Police would only say they believe a robber did it.

Investigators found a battered pair of tennis shoes, with a screwdriver inside one shoe, in the driveway next to where the thief apparently stole Miss Langford’s baby-blue 1977-model car.

A visiting nephew found Miss Langford’s body in a hallway between her bedroom and the living room at 10 a.m. Tuesday. The nephew, whose name was not released, had seen her alive at 6:30 the night before.

″I think it’s horrible,″ said Miss Langford’s sister, Doris Godwin, who cried softly Tuesday night as she described the life of her sister, a retired assistant city clerk.

″It’s just horrible,″ she said.

In February, Miss Langford fought off a burglar a day after the same man unsuccessfully tried to talk his way into her home. On the first occasion she refused to open the door. But the second time he slipped into the house.

″She screamed, kicked, punched and shouted at the man to get out of her home,″ Detective Capt. James Diggs said. The man took off with her purse and $35 cash.

Miss Langford surprised a burglar in her living room after she finished doing yard work in March 1985. When the man demanded money, Miss Langford told him she had none. He then tied her up with the cord from a window shade and beat her.

She freed herself, went to a neighbor for help and spent a week in a hospital recovering from a concussion and other injuries, police reports said.

On another occasion, she woke up to find someone had removed a window screen in an apparent effort to enter her house.

″There are a lot of elderly people in this neighborhood,″ Detective Lt. John Conklin said, ″and unfortunately, there are a lot of people who will come around and try to pull scams off on them.″

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