GULFPORT, MS (WLOX) - Neighbors are stunned and outraged after Gulfport police say an elderly woman was raped in her home. The victim is a 78-year old woman, and her alleged attacker is still at large.
Police made it their top priority case Monday. The crime has many neighbors feeling angry and afraid.
"That's sad. That is sad," said Edith Pittman.
Pittman believes she knows the 78-year old woman who was sexually assaulted overnight. The attack happened right before midnight in the 800 block of 25th Street. Pittman said robberies and other crimes have occurred on the street before, but none was this shocking.
"We need to catch whoever it is and if they got nothing better to do than go around and mess up an elderly woman's life like that," said Pittman.
"Oh my God, why is this happening? Why cruel people do this in this world?" asked her neighbor Jami Reed. "I think it's crazy! The lady is 78 years old and she minds her own business and she doesn't do anything to nobody. This is hurtful."
Police say around midnight, the woman heard suspicious noises outside her home. When she went outside to check on it, she saw a man standing in her yard. Investigators said the man forced the victim into her home where he raped her, then ran off.
"It's disturbing. It's scary. It's something you never want to see happen. This is probably one of the worst things that can happen, victimizing anybody, but to do that to an elderly woman, it just makes you angry," said Gulfport Deputy Chief Chris Loposser.
Officers spent the day patrolling the neighborhood, tracking down video, and interviewing as many people as possible.
"We're spending any and all available resource at this time to try and develop a suspect in this case, and bring whoever's responsible to justice,"
The crime has neighbors on edge, knowing that an alleged rapist is still out there.
"Makes me scared to put my head down," said Pittman. "I just know that we need to pull together and just sit out and get this neighborhood watch so we can catch whoever it is."
"I moved here about almost a year ago, and I thought this was the safest neighborhood and I'm starting to think that it's not," said Reed.
Gulfport police are looking for a heavy-set black man, between 40-50 years old. If you have any information about this case, please give them a call at (228) 868-5959. You can also contact Crime Stoppers at www.mscoastcrimestoppers.com or by telephone at (877) 787-5898.
Also, police have this advice for all residents: If you see or hear anything suspicious, stay in a safe place and call your local law enforcement agency. Let the officers check it out for you.