GREG JENKINS was awakened early Monday morning by a "loud thump" against the side of his rowhouse in West Philly.

"It sounded like something was about to come through the walls," Jenkins said Monday night outside his home, on Daggett Street near Girard Avenue.

He had no idea that the noises were blows being rained down on his elderly next-door neighbor by her 15-year-old foster son.

"I always got a bad vibe from that kid, to be honest," he said, "but I never pictured anything like this; he never struck me as violent."

Jenkins' 70-year-old neighbor, whom he identified as Mamie Chess, remained in critical but stable condition Monday night after the attack, police said. Meanwhile, her foster son, whom Jenkins identified only as Antoine, was in police custody, facing criminal charges in both the city and Chester County.

To hear police tell it, Chess was savagely beaten by Antoine over a petty argument, allegedly over the teen's curfew.

Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives gave the following account:

The incident started just before 4 a.m. Monday, when Antoine came home unannounced. When Chess began to chastise him for staying out so late, the teen snapped, grabbing a nearby table and swinging it at the woman who had raised him since he was 3 years old.

Antoine's blow hit Chess in the chest, fracturing her sternum. But he didn't stop there: He grabbed a nearby picture frame and hit her over the head with it, causing major bruising and cuts.
He then grabbed his caretaker and threw her down a flight of stairs, continuing to beat her as she lay bloodied and bruised in the home's basement.

At that point, he apparently decided enough was enough, snatching Chess' car keys and purse and fleeing the house in her Chevrolet Trailblazer.

A few hours later, that car was involved in a collision about 19 miles away, in Phoenixville, according to police.

Antoine was allegedly "driving at a high rate of speed and in a reckless fashion," and struck another car, Tredyffrin Township Police said in a statement. The teen remained at the scene, and later was charged with theft, reckless endangerment and related offenses.

He was taken back into the city, where he was charged with attempted murder, aggravated assault and related offenses for his alleged attack, Walker said.

Back on Daggett Street, Greg Jenkins was still reeling from the news.

"Living in this city, I don't want to say you get numb to these things, but...

"I'm not gonna say things like this never happen here, because this neighborhood ain't Bel-Air, but it's hard to handle hearing about this."