Crime

Sister Nora’s attack suspect likely still here, says sheriff's office

MANATEE -- Eliseo Ortiz, the 51-year-old man wanted in connection with the beating of 81-year-old Sister Nora Brick on Feb. 14, does not have a vehicle and is likely hiding somewhere close to Bradenton, according to the Manatee County Sheriff’s Office.

“Of course, all you need is one bus ticket, but we don’t think he has the means to leave the area,” sheriff’s spokesman Dave Bristow said Friday. “We feel certain he doesn’t have a mode of transportation. He is probably hiding out in Sarasota, Manatee or Hillsborough County.”

According to Bristow, deputies with the sheriff’s office are still aggressively investigating the case.

“We are working this case hard, but we need a tip,” Bristow said.

Today, many will gather for a prayer vigil in Sister Nora’s honor at 2 p.m. at Our Lady of the Angels Memorial Garden, 12905 S.R. 70 E., Lakewood Ranch. The vigil is part of a nationwide event coordinated by the Interfaith Immigration Coalition.

Ortiz, who authorities believe is homeless, is accused of attacking Sister Nora at her home, where Ortiz had allegedly gone to ask her for money.

Sister Nora’s 30-year ministry, which includes the Stillpoint House of Prayer in Bradenton, came to a close because of her injuries. But she has told her volunteers that she will recuperate in New Jersey and is planning to return to Manatee for a visit.

“It’s hard to imagine a life where you take a vow of poverty and take on the cross,” Manatee County school board member Julie Aranibar said of Sister Nora. “That means you live your life in service to others.

“The greatest tribute we could give to Sister Nora is by being active in our community. Find a program that is your passion and get involved.”

Scheduled speakers at the vigil include Bill Camastro, a supporter of Stillpoint House of Prayer; Marvin Mills, chair of the Sarasota Manatee Farmworkers Supporters; C.J. Czaia, chair of UnidosNow.org; Mark Flanagan, former state representative; and community activist Jim Delgado.

The Gold Star Club of Manatee County is offering a reward of up to $1,000 for information leading to the arrest and conviction of Ortiz, who is wanted on a charge of aggravated battery.

Crime Stoppers also offers a reward of $1,000.

Anyone with information on Ortiz’s whereabouts can call the sheriff’s office at (941) 747-3011, ext. 2162, or Crime Stoppers at (866) 634-TIPS.

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