ST. PETERSBURG — Donald McPherson was able to squeeze his son's hand on Wednesday. He sometimes stirs when doctors at Bayfront Medical Center reduce the dosage of sedation medication.
These are all good signs, his family and officials insist.
McPherson, 63, has been in the hospital in critical condition since Monday afternoon, shortly after he was nearly beaten to death at a Pinellas Park apartment complex.
The retired dairy broker, who helps his son with a property management business, was doing handy work about 11:30 a.m. when someone attacked him outside an empty unit at the Lauren Manor Apartments, 7450 35th St. N.
McPherson's brother, Roger, happened to come by the complex about five to 10 minutes after the attack. Donald McPherson was stumbling around, he said. Someone had bashed the back of his skull.
"All my dad could say was 'Please help me, please help me,' " said Bruce McPherson, 37. "He lost so much blood they put four bags in him."
As paramedics worked to stabilize him, Donald McPherson uttered that he thought he knew who hit him. But then he lost consciousness.
His injuries have left him unable to talk or open his eyes since then, though doctors say that could change once swelling in his skull goes down.
Authorities have not identified any suspects.
"We could really use the public's help on this one," said Pinellas Park police Sgt. Brian Unmisig. "We really have very little to go on."
It appears that Donald McPherson may have struggled with his attacker. In addition to the wounds on his head, he also has bruises on his sides. Bruce McPherson said the injuries look like they came from a hammer.
Right now, the motive for the attack is unclear.
The family said the attacker didn't touch Donald McPherson's wallet or tools, which remained in his work truck. Family members said he rarely carried cash — $20 at most. But no one has been able to question McPherson to see if he had money with him on Monday.
The family is offering a reward for information that leads to the attacker's arrest and conviction. Anyone with information can call Detective Michael Erwin at (727) 541-0883. Tips can also be provided anonymously through Crime Stoppers at 1 (800) 873-TIPS.