Philadelphia grandmother blinded in random acid attack, daughter says

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A Philadelphia grandmother was blinded during an unprovoked attack by a man who tossed acid into her face, her daughter and police said.

Helen Jones, 61, was leaving her home in the city’s Germantown section during the early morning of Oct. 6 when an unknown male assailant approached and doused her with what fire officials later determined was chlorosulfuric acid, police said.

“There was a man there and he was like, ‘Hey, are you good?’ As if he was inquiring about her safety, making sure she was OK,” Jones’ daughter, Aneesha Summerville, told WPVI. “And when she looked up to say yes, he threw the stuff in her face and ran off.”

Jones — who had burns to her nose, mouth, eyes and throat — was rushed to a hospital in serious condition, police said, adding that a motive in the attack was unclear.

The suspect was a man with dark skin and a medium build who was wearing a light knit hat with a blue mask. No arrests had been made as of Thursday, police said.

Summerville, who lives in Maryland, said her mother works as a phlebotomist and was headed to her job at a nursing home when she was attacked.

Doctors have since told Summerville that her mother is blind and it’s unclear if she’ll regain her vision, WPVI reported.

“They couldn’t tell us if she would get her vision back or not,” Summerville said.

Jones didn’t know her attacker, but could likely identify him even though he was wearing a mask that covered his nose and mouth at the time, her daughter said.

“It was totally unexpected,” Summerville continued. “She saw his eyes. If she was able to see him again, she would know his eyes.”

Whoever attacked Jones may have burns on his hands from the acid, which has irrevocably changed the woman’s life in an instant, Summerville said.

“She was very independent one moment, and the next moment we have to make sure we are around to make sure she’s not knocking into anything or she’s not going to get hurt,” Summerville told WPVI.

Philadelphia police Inspector Michael McCarrick said Jones had “no previous exchange” with the suspect before she was attacked.

“Just a complete random incident,” McCarrick told WPVI last week.

One of Jones’ neighbors said last week she heard the woman trying to get back inside after getting splashed with the acid.


“I just heard a lot of screaming and she was banging on her door trying to get in,” neighbor Dorothy Hannibal told the station.

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