An elderly woman is fighting for her life after a violent home-invasion robbery.
Dorothy Dow, 83, was airlifted to Grady Hospital late Thursday night after sustaining third-degree burns and several broken bones. The incident occurred around 11 p.m. on 7745 Forest Rd. in the Lone Oak community in Grantville.
Dow told deputies she was asleep in her bed when four black males and one black female forced their way through her backdoor and roused her from her sleep.
When one suspect demanded money, she was pistol whipped in the face after telling her attackers she didn’t have any. Then one suspect poured a flammable liquid on Dow and set her on fire.
During the assault, she sustained third-degree burns to her head and lower back, lacerations to her face, two broken arms, along with all the fingers on one hand, according to Sheriff Chuck Smith of the Meriwether County Sheriff’s Office.
After the suspects fled the home without taking anything, Dow told authorities she crawled along the floor for almost an hour searching for her phone. When responders arrived to her home, Dow was able to provide investigators with the details of the attack before being airlifted to Grady Hospital.
She is listed in critical condition, according to Smith.
With the help of a K9 unit, investigators were able to recover valuable evidence and track to a location where suspects may have access to property. Members of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, the Meriwether County Narcotics Division, and the Coweta County Sheriff’s Office are assisting in the investigation.
The attack wasn't a random act of violence, according to Smith, who wants all members of the Lone Oak community to feel secure.
“We believe these suspects were looking for someone specifically,” he said. “When that person wasn’t there, the suspects attacked her."
According to Smith, Dow’s property is used for growing blueberries. Investigators believe the suspects may have been laborers who worked during the most recent harvest.
“We have a person of interest that lives outside the community, and we’re aggressively attempting to locate him,” Smith said. “I want our seniors to know we’re diligently pursuing those involved in of this horrific incident."
Smith praised the courage of Dow for providing investigators with so much information after sustaining such life-threatening injuries.
“It sickens me to see individuals do something like this to a senior citizen, and I’m driven to catch these people,” he said.
The Dow family asked that anyone with information come forward and report what they know to the Meriwether County Sheriff's Office or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Mrs. Dow is a patient in the burn unit at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, and her family asks for prayers during what will be a long recovery. She was able to visit with relatives at the hospital and underwent surgery on Friday.
Dot Dow and her husband, William David Dow, came to Meriwether County from Elberton more than 50 years ago. The family has a farm, where they have grown and sold blueberries, strawberries and tomatoes. Jelly made from the fruit has also been sold.
The Dows have been active in the community, and Mrs. Dow is a member of Allen-Lee Memorial United Methodist Church in Lone Oak. Her husband, a U.S. Navy veteran, died in 1996 and is buried at Allen-Lee.
Clay Neely: firstname.lastname@example.org, @clayneely