Broken trust, broken arms

An East Side woman said a man she trusted turned on her.
YOUNGSTOWN -- The dark sunglasses hide her swollen red eye, but they cannot hide the glistening mark of a tear.
The tear trickles slowly down her face as Barbara Heath recalls the prayers, the struggle to stay awake, the vicious beating.
Beaten by man: Heath said her injuries were caused when Arnold Stone, a man she calls her handyman, beat her with a wooden bat and a hammer as she cowered beneath a metal chair.
Police are seeking Stone on three felony warrants on charges of attempted murder, aggravated arson and aggravated burglary. Police describe him as 5 feet, 8 inches tall and 185 pounds, in his mid-to-late-30s, with a medium black complexion, black hair, bulging eyes and a square patch of hair on the back of his head.
"I just was just praying, 'Lord, don't let me go to sleep. Lord don't let me die. I want to see my grandkids. Lord, don't let me die,'" Heath said.
She now sits in the family room of her sister's home in a different part of the city, her legs on an ottoman, her arms -- both in casts -- resting on the wide arms of the chair.
The casts are covered with signatures, notes, drawings and scribblings from friends and family. Her grandchildren supplied the smiley faces and other drawings. Heath, 49, said they hurt to see their grandmother this way.
What happened: It was early Oct. 3 when Heath went to the front door of her North Truesdale Avenue home to bring in her dog. She glanced at the clock: 5:16 a.m. She hadn't overslept. The dog would be in before commuters were heading to bus stops, before children were walking to school.
She opened the door just as she had on hundreds of mornings past. This time she was met with a baseball bat to the head and the face of a man she knew.
"He had that look in his eyes like, 'I'm gonna kill you,'" Heath said.
Before long, blood was gushing about Heath's head. She covered her head and the beating ensued on her arms until the bat cracked.
She hid under a fabric-seated metal chair and rushed him with it. He retreated to the basement but returned, locking the door, and trapping the dog, behind him.
Heath watched helplessly as her assailant got a mallet from a kitchen counter and came at her again, hitting her in the back of the head.
It was then that Heath's burglar alarm sounded and her attacker fled. Still using the chair as her shield, Heath fell against her front door in an attempt to block his re-entry. Later, she found an ice pick stuck in the back of the chair.
She sat immobilized, thanking God for the alarm, finding some peace in knowing police would soon come.
Saw smoke: But there was smoke rising from the carpet and she remembered seeing the man open the gas lines on her stove. Police and fire officials later learned that Heath's attacker had set fire to clothes in the basement.
The woman saw the smoke and asked herself: "What are you gonna do? Are you gonna lay here and die or are you gonna go out and fight with him some more?"
"Lord," she prayed. "I've got nothing left to fight with, but I'm not gonna die like this."
She mustered the strength to escape the house and go to a neighbor's house, kicking the door to awake him. Once there, he told her, "Barbara, you're safe," and wrapped her bloodied head in a towel.
From there, she was taken to St. Elizabeth Health Center. Heath said her anxieties were exacerbated when she was not given the care she requested.
The woman, already suffering from the immune system disease lupus, said several diagnostic tests -- including an X-ray of her head -- were never performed. After a day and a half in the hospital, she was placed in a cab at about 9 p.m. Oct. 4, and sent to her sister's home. She said she was not given any social work assistance at the hospital to find a different place to stay.
St. Elizabeth spokeswoman Sally Rood said no patients are discharged from the hospital until it is determined that they have a place to go and transportation is provided when needed. Rood, a public relations specialist, said patient confidentiality prohibits staff from discussing specifics of Heath's care. However, she said, Heath's complaints are being investigated.
Feels burdensome: Now, Heath remains at her sister's home, receiving assistance from relatives. But, she said, she feels she is a burden.
Heath suffered three breaks in her arms and suffers from dizzy spells and impaired vision. Daylight bothers her eyes.
She said she needs round-the-clock assistance, and family members are unable to provide such care. The stress has taken its toll on family relationships. She wants to be taken to a facility where she and her family won't have to worry about her well-being.
Heath's sister, Karen Collins, said her sister has not been the same since the attack. Even in the past week's warm weather, Heath has refused to even go out to the front porch. Once, Collins said, her sister stepped up to the doorway, but turned around and went back inside.
Collins cannot understand this fear from a woman who has fought through illness and overcome prior shootings and an abusive relationship.
But Heath said she can't help but be afraid.
Suspected motive: She said her handyman was someone she had trusted. He watched her home and cared for her dog for a month last year when she was visiting an aunt in Atlanta. He needed a place to stay. Since then, she has paid him for tasks he has performed as her handyman. She suspects he wanted to rob her.