Elderly Parishioner Beaten Outside Chapel - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

12/29/04

Elderly Parishioner Beaten Outside Chapel

It's a place many come to pray, but on December 23 at around 2am, St. Peter's Catholic Chapel in downtown Beaufort became a crime scene. Beaufort police say 78-year-old Charles Hess was struck on the head and beat to the ground before entering the chapel for his hour of adoration.

It's an incident that has many parishioners outraged. "It was shocking, absolutely shocking, especially considering his age," KennyAnn Wilson told us.

Police say the suspect didn't attempt to take Hess' wallet or anything else from him. However, Hess suffered head wounds and a broken jaw. "This gentleman walked with a cane, and for someone to take advantage of such a vulnerable person is disgraceful," said Wilson.

Parishioners say Hess has been coming to the chapel for his hour of adoration for years. In fact, a parishioner is at the chapel 24 hours a day, seven days a week as part the ritual. But this recent incident has many parishioners concerned for those coming in the wee hours of the morning and late evening. "You get more wary when things happen like this," said Wilson.

Leigh Stevenson added, "I would too if I had an early morning shift."

We did speak with Hess wife and she says her husband is out of the hospital and recovering at home. But police still don't have any leads. If you have any information on this case, please call the Beaufort Police Department at 843.322.7900.

Reported by: Jaime Dailey, jdailey@wtoc.com

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