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Cell phone leads police to suspect in assault

A cell phone stolen from a 90-year-old Southwest Philadelphia woman during a robbery and beating inside her home late Monday led police to her alleged assailant yesterday, officials said.

The robbery occurred about 11:30 p.m Monday after the victim left the door of her home on the 2100 block of Carroll Street slightly ajar to let air circulate, said Lt. John Walker of Southwest Detectives. "She can't afford air-conditioning," he added.

Walker said a woman appeared at the door and told the victim that her daughter had been hurt, then barged in, punched her, and grabbed her purse and cell phone. She also threw the victim on the couch, breaking her ribs. After the theft, Walker said, a friend of the victim's grandson started texting the stolen phone, saying that the woman was not doing well and that he needed the phone to get needed medical information. He also offered money for its return. The friend set up a meeting, and police took into custody a 17-year-old girl and recovered the phone.

He said the girl told police that her mother had given her the phone. Detectives arrested the 35-year-old woman about 9:30 a.m. yesterday, and she was expected to be charged with aggravated assault and robbery.

- Joseph Gambardello