CLEARWATER — Martha Gold wanted a drink. She had no transportation, so she offered to pay her 82-year-old neighbor for a lift to a nearby store.
On three different occasions, Genevieve Zebrowski denied Gold's requests. Pinellas County sheriff's deputies and witnesses said those refusals almost cost Zebrowski her life.
Just before 11:30 p.m. Wednesday, Gold stabbed Zebrowski in the left hand and left calf with an 8-inch steel knife. All of it took place in front of Sophie Evanosky, Zebrowski's 87-year-old sister and roommate.
"She kept saying, 'I'm going to kill her. I'm going to kill her,' " Evanosky said. "She didn't care."
Zebrowski was transported to Bayfront Medical Center for treatment.
Gold, 55, was arrested at 2260 Costa Rican Drive, accused of attempted murder in the first degree, deputies said.
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Neighbors said Gold moved into On Top of the World retirement community in June. She didn't blend in from the start, they said.
Neighbors spoke to Gold and she ignored them.
They asked her to control her barking dog and she told them to move.
Neighbors said Gold never drove. Florida Department of Law Enforcement records indicate her license was suspended for six months, but that was in February 2006. She used taxis to get around or bummed a ride from neighbors she barely knew.
About three weeks ago, Gold stopped William Stephens, who was on his way to Largo to the eye doctor. She asked him if he was going to Publix.
Stephens continued toward his car, but he wanted to know what Gold wanted.
"A bottle of wine," he recalled her saying. "I didn't say anything. I just left."
She found an ally in Zebrowski, described by friends as kind and helpful.
"Too kind and helpful to this one person," said Ed Foland, the captain of the building where Zebrowski and Gold live.
Zebrowski took Gold to Publix at least twice in the past month, Evanosky said.
On Oct. 29, the last time, Gold went inside the store while Zebrowski waited outside. Twenty minutes passed and Gold returned to the car intoxicated, neighbors said. Zebrowski told her she'd never take her anywhere again.
The women didn't speak until noon Wednesday. Gold stopped by Zebrowski's second-floor unit and asked for a ride. Zebrowski said no.
She swung by the condo a second time and offered money.
Again, Zebrowski said no.
The third time, Gold had a knife and attacked Zebrowski. Evanosky, a petite woman, grabbed the 140-pound Gold with both arms and pulled her outside. Zebrowski managed to grab the knife and throw it under her couch.
"I heard somebody screaming," said Jim Cormier, who rushed from his condo and helped Evanosky pin Gold down until authorities arrived.
Gold was taken to the Pinellas County Jail, where she remained Thursday evening. Bail had not been set.
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Today, residents will hold a special meeting at 1 p.m. to discuss the stabbing.
"This is a neighborhood where everybody looks out for everybody," said Pat Cormier, Jim's wife. "To have a neighbor do that to another neighbor, it's just not Top of the World."
Meanwhile, Zebrowski is recovering at Bayfront. She underwent surgery on Thursday. Relatives said her injuries were not life-threatening.
Just after noon Thursday, Evanosky and her daughter returned to the scene. Neighbors offered them hugs and condolences.
When Evanosky opened the door, a pool of blood covered the tile floor in the entryway.
"The blood was gushing out of her so bad," she said. "It's a scene you never forget."
Rodney Thrash can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 445-4167.