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Year after attack, life goes on for local woman

BRADENTON — She’s lacing up her running shoes and returning to her neighborhood streets.

But it’s been a long road to recovery for the 53-year-old woman who was brutally attacked a year ago Feb. 16 while jogging by a corner near Riverview Boulevard.

“My life has been fairly normal other than that constant reminder that there were 10 to 11 others (victims) after me,” she said.

The woman still has a deep tissue bruise on her arm she feels to this day.

“He became more violent with each victim. If anyone can be lucky in something like this, I am. I did go by the corner on Monday and it was the same day, same time of day, same everything. That was kind of creepy.”

Authorities continue to investigate 12 attacks in which mostly women were bound, beaten and, in some cases, raped in Manatee and Sarasota counties. The woman’s attack was the first. Others that followed took place in victims’ homes.

Authorities arrested 38-year-old Delmer Smith III after tying him to several of the attacks. He remains a suspect in others. He was charged by Sarasota detectives in October with several counts of home invasion robbery, false imprisonment and sexual battery.

Two women also were killed in the attacks.

“Life goes on and unfortunately there’s two women who didn’t get to live,” the woman said, pausing. “That makes me sad.”

Thirty-seven-year-old Georgann Lee Smith was killed in her home April 6, 2009 in the 2100 block of JoAnn Drive in Sarasota, according to Sarasota County Sheriff’s Office. Smith has not been charged in that case.

Just last week, Smith was charged with 49-year-old Kathleen Briles’ slaying Aug. 3, 2009 after she was bludgeoned to death with a sewing machine in her Terra Ceia home, according to authorities.

“That sent chills down my spine,” the woman said when asked about Briles.

Another victim, who is elderly, was struck repeatedly and pistol whipped. She remembers how her own clothes were drenched in blood after her attack.

She can only imagine what Kathleen Briles experienced. “I know I could feel for her. I just had goose bumps. ... It’s no wonder she died,” said the woman. “The man who hit me had strength. ... He was an animal.”

In this woman’s case, Manatee County Sheriff’s Office has made no arrest. And there was no DNA evidence found she is aware of, she said.

For that reason, her fear remains real.

“You just hope it’s him,” she said, referring to Smith, who is serving a two-year sentence for violating his probation for robbing a bank aside from his other pending charges. “But you never let your guard down though.”

She still keeps her home locked up with the blinds drawn.

In the 53-year-old woman’s case, she knows charges are coming against Smith.

Bradenton Police Department investigated two of the 12 related attacks — including the jogging attack — and expect to make arrests in the next couple of weeks when more evidence comes back from laboratory results.

Smith’s DNA was found on the woman’s sweatpants from the attack, she said.

“That gives you a little bit of closure,” she said.

Police say they have probable cause to charge Smith in the woman’s attack and a nearby attack in which a couple in their 60s was tied up inside their residence and severely beaten in the 200 block of 32nd Street Northwest.

There have been 15 pieces of evidence submitted to Florida Department of Law Enforcement in both cases.

“It’s not like he’s on the street running rampant so we can take a little bit more time,” said Bradenton Police Deputy Chief William Tokajer when asked about the case. “We have physical evidence in both cases.”

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