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Officials: Teen who beat, locked Chesco woman in closet 4 days had prior arrests

The teenager accused of beating a 72-year-old Chester County woman and locking her in closet for four days had two prior burglary arrests, officials said Friday.

The teen accused of breaking into a 72-year-old woman's Chester County house and then leaving her bound and locked in a closet for four days had two prior burglary charges and had previously escaped from a GPS tracking program, officials said Friday.

As family members of the victim watched, the 17-year-old boy, wearing a blue plaid shirt, appeared in Juvenile Court in West Chester, where a court master ordered a psychiatric evaluation and set the next hearing for Friday. The boy did not speak during the proceeding.

His name has not been released because he is a juvenile, but prosecutors said they planned to file a motion to try him as an adult by Monday.

He "poses a danger to the community and is a flight risk," Assistant District Attorney Christine Abatemarco told the court.

The youth's lawyer, Michael Raffaele, who said he had previously represented the boy, did not say after the hearing whether he planned to fight that motion, saying he needed to speak to his client.

The victim's family members declined comment as they left the courthouse.

The boy -- who had escaped from a residential treatment facility in Glenmoore -- allegedly broke into the woman's home in a wooded area of East Brandywine Township; bound and locked her in a lightless closet at the base of a staircase, and began choking her, saying,  "You'll be with Jesus soon."

Investigators said he covered her head with a cloth shopping bag, wrapped duct tape around her neck, and tied her arms, knees, and ankles. He left her without food or water in a storage closet, where she was found Sunday -- four days later --- by her daughter-in-law. She was in stable condition after being taken to a hospital.

The woman had never met the teen, said authorities. They believe he walked from the treatment facility, Devereux Brandywine, until he came upon the house.

The teen allegedly stole her credit cards, cellphone and laptop, and made his getaway in her 2013 Fiat 500. He returned to Devereux two days later but was transferred to another facility, according to the district attorney. He was arrested Wednesday.

Neither Abatemarco nor Raffaele would say what the immigration status was of the boy, who is from Thailand.

He had been placed in the GPS program after being arrested for the two burglaries in October in Delaware County. Shortly thereafter, he fled and was found by police walking on a highway near the Delaware-Maryland border with drug paraphernalia, authorities said.

The youth, who had been living in Media, was then placed into the treatment facility, where he stayed until the day of the assault.

Raffaele requested that the teen be evaluated by a doctor familiar with "reactive attachment disorder," a condition in which a child does not establish relationships with parents or caregivers.

The teen is being held at Chester County's youth-detention center.