Thursday, January 18, 2018
Public safety

Pinellas deputies: Man, 58, seriously injured in home invasion

ST. PETERSBURG — Deputies were investigating a robbery Friday in which a 58-year-old man was severely beaten in his home.

William Bennett Roberts was found at 5104 67th Way N about 8:30 a.m. Friday, deputies said. A friend stopped by to visit Roberts and found him inside, hurt and calling for help.

Roberts was taken by paramedics to a local hospital, officials said. He had been beaten about his upper body and was still in the hospital on Friday afternoon, officials said.

Deputies believe the person who attacked Roberts forced his way into the home. Roberts was also robbed, but deputies did not say what was stolen.

"I personally cannot conceive of how a person could do that to another person," said Lorie Floener, 52, Roberts' girlfriend of 25 years and the mother of his 20-year-old son.

Floener visited Roberts in the hospital Friday afternoon. His face was black and blue, she said. He had stitches on his face and hands. Doctors told her someone had hit him on the head, and he had a chipped bone in his neck. They gave him morphine, which kept him asleep, she said.

"It's not much, but it meant a lot to me — the corners of his mouth came up when I said, 'I love you,' " Floener said through tears. "I've never seen anybody so badly beaten."

Roberts' son, Colin Roberts, said he had no idea who attacked his father or why.

"He's a really good guy," the younger Roberts said. "He just keeps to himself."

Roberts lives alone on disability money and has an assortment of health problems, Floener said. He has battled pneumonia six times and has problems with his liver and kidneys, his son said.

Roberts has never married but has been with his son's mother for 25 years, Colin Roberts said. He regularly visited them at their St. Petersburg home.

"We're close, but we just talk about father-and-son stuff," Colin Roberts said. "But personal stuff he just keeps to himself."

Colin Roberts said a neighbor called him early Friday to tell him and his mother that ambulances were parked outside his father's house. He knew little of the circumstances of what happened, he said.

No arrests have been made. The investigation is continuing.

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