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Tampa mother describes attacker: her own son

Hazel Fann, 54, said Friday that she was on the phone with a dispatcher when her son entered her home through a window. 

DANIEL WALLACE | Times

Hazel Fann, 54, said Friday that she was on the phone with a dispatcher when her son entered her home through a window. 

TAMPA — Hazel Fann talks to God a lot these days.

She prays her husband will open his eyes. She prays her son will clean up his life. She prays for peace.

In recent months, her son, 34-year-old James Archie, seemed to be making progress. He had been attending a drug treatment program, police and Mrs. Fann said.

Sundays after church, he'd drop by for dinner wearing a tie, and he'd tell his mom and stepdad that he was no longer doing drugs, said Mrs. Fann, 54.

They believed him.

Then, early Thursday, he showed up at their home and demanded money, his mother said. She feared the worst: that he wanted to buy crack cocaine.

She was afraid of him. He had attacked her before, she said, and police reports show multiple domestic violence calls at the little block house in the V.M. Ybor neighborhood. There are no reports of drug arrests.

Mrs. Fann called police, and her son left.

He soon returned, but the doors were locked. His mother said she was on the phone with a dispatcher as he entered the home through an unlocked bedroom window.

"I was saying, 'He's getting through the window! He's in the house! He's in the house!' " she recalled Friday.

Police said Archie overheard his mother talking about him and attacked her in a fury.

He grabbed her metal walking cane and beat her, knocking her to the floor, she reported. As her husband, Daniel Fann, 61, came to help, Archie beat him on the head with the cane until he was unconscious and then kicked him as he lay on the floor, police said.

Then Archie grabbed a knife and threatened to kill his mother if she did not unlock the burglar bars on the door so that he could leave, police said.

"He was not playing games," Mrs. Fann said Friday. "I thank God we're not lying in the morgue right now."

Police arrived at the house and then tracked Archie down to a nearby intersection, where they arrested him. On Friday afternoon, Archie remained in jail on charges of aggravated battery and aggravated assault, among others, his bail set at $24,500.

Meanwhile, Mrs. Fann visited her husband of 21 years at Tampa General Hospital. Before the beating, he was already partly paralyzed from two previous seizures. Doctors had sedated him so that he could rest.

She hated seeing him hooked up to so many tubes on Thursday, his eyes closed. But doctors told her that he was improving.

On Friday, he started breathing on his own. When she squeezed his hand, he squeezed back.

She, too, was injured. She has a dinner-plate-sized purple bruise on her buttocks and needs a walker to get around. But what hurts more — what brings tears to her eyes — is seeing her son struggle.

She still loves James, the baby she birthed on a September Sunday, the man accused of threatening her life.

She thinks of him quoting Scripture, determined to get clean and get a job.

But she won't ever let him move back in, she said.

"I don't trust him anymore," she said.

Times news researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Jessica Vander Velde can be reached at jvandervelde@sptimes.com or (813) 226-3433.

Tampa mother describes attacker: her own son 07/15/11 [Last modified: Friday, July 15, 2011 11:25pm]
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