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Police look into attacks on sleeping people

(ran T, NS, S editions of B)

Less than three days after a burglar beat a woman in north St. Petersburg with a pot until the handle broke off, police say another burglar stabbed a sleeping man with a metal pipe early Tuesday in another northside neighborhood.

The first attack, about 2:40 a.m. Saturday, occurred as the Loveland family slept in their home. Gail Loveland told police that she awoke to find a man striking her on the head with a sauce pan. Loveland required nearly 200 stitches, police and family members said.

Loveland's attacker ran from the home at 112 13th Ave. N when he was discovered by one of Loveland's daughters.

On Tuesday, Arnold Lee Wall, 28, of 2600 24th Ave. N awoke to find a man stabbing and beating him with a 3{-inch pipe that had one end sharpened to a 45-degree angle. The man ran from the home as Wall's girlfriend called police. Wall was in fair condition late Tuesday at Bayfront Medical Center.

"Right now, they're being investigated separately," police spokeswoman Terri Hubble said. "If it comes up that they look like they may be linked, then the investigators may go in that direction."

Investigators had begun working on the second assault only Tuesday, she said.

The cases have some surface similarities, police say. Both involved burglaries, both ended with assaults on sleeping people and both ended with nothing being taken. The description of both assailants is sketchy: white male, slender to medium build.

In the attack early Saturday, Loveland said she and her two daughters were in separate rooms at the time. Between 2:30 and 2:45 a.m., Loveland said she noticed someone standing over her pounding on her head.

At first, she didn't think it was real, she said.

"All I saw was the metal pan pounding down on me," Loveland said. "I didn't get to see the boy or man or who he was." She struggled with the man, who dislocated her shoulder in the process, she said.

Loveland's 23-year-old daughter said she heard a noise and was worried about her mother, who sleepwalks and has nightmares. As she left her room and walked down a hall, she saw a man running away from her mother's room. She got only a glimpse of him, saying he was a slender 6-foot to 6-foot-2 muscular young, blond, white man in yellow shorts and a T-shirt.

An ambulance arrived nine minutes later, according to emergency and police officials. A search of the neighborhood with a police dog turned up nothing, Hubble said.

Loveland said she was taken to Bayfront Medical Center with a dislocated shoulder, bruises and cuts on her head that required nearly 200 stitches. She was staying with friends earlier this week.

In the second attack, about 1:30 a.m. Tuesday, a man opened Wall's unlocked door on the east side of the building. He started beating Wall and began yelling that he would kill Wall, Hubble said.

The man's girlfriend, who police refused to identify because she is a witness, ran to the kitchen to call an ambulance, Hubble said. The attacker then ran out the door.

Wall was in the hospital with stab wounds, a broken leg and bruises, Hubble said.

Police say the suspect in that assault is described as a white man with a medium build wearing dark clothing.

On Tuesday, Loveland was having one of several visits with plastic surgeons.

"I'm in shock. . . . I don't understand why anyone would do this to her," Leslie Loveland said.

Neither does Gail Loveland. "Everyone who saw me said it was a miracle I was still alive. I hope people hearing about it will be a little more cautious."