Mary Betancourt's family tried for years to convince her to move.

She could never think of doing such a thing. She'd spent all of her 90 years in the same Southwest Philadelphia neighborhood, and was too attached to her home, her church and her routine to leave.

So, as stifling temperatures continued to fatigue much of the city Monday night, Betancourt was simply trying to stay cool in her rowhouse on Carroll Street near Buist Avenue.

Her world changed dramatically at 11:30 p.m., when, police said, a woman barged into Betancourt's home and beat and robbed her. She's now too terrified to ever return to the only home she's ever known, said her grandson Dave Santini.

By yesterday morning, police said Betancourt's alleged attacker, Lashena Jones, was behind bars - thanks in part to Greg Terinoni, a family friend who used cell-phone text messages to help lead cops to the attacker. Betancourt was staying with relatives, trying to recover from her harrowing ordeal, Santini said.

Jones, who lived nearby on 71st Street near Buist Avenue, has been charged with robbery, assault and related offenses, police said.

Nearly everyone involved in the case expressed dismay that someone would target and attack a woman of Betancourt's age and gentle disposition.

"Obviously, we're satisfied to get the offender off the street," said Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives. "But it's ludicrous to think that someone would try to exploit and harm a person in her position."

Walker said Jones knocked at Betancourt's door and told her she needed $100 because Betancourt's own daughter had just been in an accident.

Betancourt tried in vain to scare off Jones by calling out "Frank," suggesting that a man was in the house.

But Walker said Jones bolted inside, punched Betancourt in the face and threw her onto a couch, breaking two of the elderly woman's ribs.

Jones also threatened to kill Betancourt and made off with her purse and cell phone, Walker said.

Police arrested Jones at about 9:30 a.m. yesterday after they found her daughter carrying Betancourt's cell phone at 66th Street and Elmwood Avenue. *