San Diego

81-Year-Old Severely Injured by Teen During Home Burglary Attempt

The burglar used only his fists in the attack and caused severe injuries to the man’s face, head and neck

An 81-year-old homeowner suffered serious injuries at the hands of a suspected teenage burglar who tried to slip into the man’s home while he took a short walk to the mailbox.

Police say the homeowner, Bill Elyea, surprised the juvenile burglar when he returned home and was subsequently attacked. The burglar used only his fists in the attack and caused severe injuries to his face, head and neck.

Bill was found by his wife Jeanne, beaten and bloodied just inside his front door. She was in the home next door on Powderhorn Drive, which they also own, and didn’t hear any of the commotion, SDPD said. Bill was taken to UCSD Medical Center for treatment and is expected to survive.

Jeanne said her husband of 55 years is a retired sailor and former head of campus safety and security at Southwest College. She said Bill's face is pretty beat up, but she's not surprised that he confronted the teen when he saw him.

"It could have been worse," she said. "He could have done a lot more damage. I didn't realize he hit him for so long."

The suspect fled the home on foot and jumped multiple fences as he ran through neighbors’ yards, according to the SDPD. He was caught by officers in the backyard of a home about a block away in possession of Elyea's wallet.

The teenager is facing charges including assault, burglary and crimes against the elderly.

Investigators are trying to determine if the suspect is wanted in any other nearby crimes, like the case of a stolen car recovered near where the teen was arrested.

Felipe Gallardo came to the scene later to claim his car. He says the car, a computer and other valuables were stolen from his Otay Mesa apartment last Friday afternoon.

No other information was available.

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