Gainesville's Elderly Are Being Tied Up, Stabbed, and Beaten at an Alarming Rate

​What in hell is going on in Gainesville? In the past week, two different elderly residents have been tied up and beaten by brazen robbers -- the latest in a spree of such crimes dating to last summer.

Today 78-year-old disabled retiree Paul Quant is recovering after being stabbed and brutally beaten in his home Monday night; 69-year-old William Couch wasn't so lucky -- after the robbers beat him and his wife for nearly an hour Friday, he died in surgery at the hospital. "Some of it just seems to be the pure pleasure of doing it," State Attorney Bill Cervone tells the Gainesville Sun of the crime spree.

Since last August, at least six violent home invasions have targeted elderly residents in Gainesville, police tell the Sun.

This past week's crimes are particularly hard to stomach. First, around 8:30 a.m. Friday, two men broke into Couch's Union County home and tied up the man and his wife, Connie Sue Couch.

The men viciously beat the couple for more than an hour; at one point, one of the attackers picked up a hammer and thrashed Couch with it. The 69-year-old died hours later at a local hospital, and police quickly arrested 26-year-old Michael Lynn Pierce and 31-year-old Lavar Monte Thompson.

One of the men had recently helped repave Couch's driveway, police say.

On Monday, a bizarrely similar attack happened in Quant's Gainesville home. Quant, who is disabled and relies on an electric scooter to get around, was tied up, stabbed, and beaten, police say, while his house was ransacked.

When the robbers left, he "used cooking oil to loosen his bindings," hopped onto his scooter, and made it to a neighbor's front door before collapsing, the Sun reports.

Police have arrested 22-year-old Ausin Jones and 22-year-old Amanda Martin, both cousins of Quant's, and charged them with the crime.

The sheer violence of the crime spree -- even though the attacks are apparently unrelated -- has Gainesville on edge this week.

"These have been bothersome in that the gratuitousness of the violence is almost an invitation to think that that is the whole purpose with these folks," Cervone tells the Sun. "The violence is the disturbing part of it, and there is no question we have more than a couple of them lately, and those are more than we had before."

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Tim Elfrink is a former investigative reporter and managing editor for Miami New Times. He has won the George Polk Award and was a finalist for the Goldsmith Prize for Investigative Reporting.
Contact: Tim Elfrink