Woman attacked outside Washington County funeral home

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Pa. — A woman was brazenly attacked outside of a Washington County funeral home Tuesday.

Lori Mitchell tells Channel 11 she’s always on high alert and her gut told her a woman following her as she walked up a ramp to make a payment on her mother’s funeral costs. But what happened was unexpected, she was violently attacked — and the whole thing was caught on video.

“I wasn’t feeling nothing but fear, fear for my life,” Mitchell said.

A doorbell at the Charleroi funeral home camera caught a woman asking Mitchell for a pen, writing on her hand then lunging for Mitchell’s purse.

“She, all of a sudden, pulled on my purse and dragged me down. The only thing I could do was to scream and draw attention and keep her hands busy,” Mitchell said. “My guts told me to hold on for dear life.”

Police arrested Jennifer Howard after the attack.

Funeral home director Joe Lopez came outside after he heard a commotion and told us that at first, he thought the woman were joking. Then, he pushed Howard and tackled her.

“I happened to push the suspect away, into a vehicle, and onto the ground,” Lopez said. “She kept saying ‘I’m a girl. You’re a big heavy man. You shouldn’t be restraining me.’ When I did let her up she immediately tried to run.”

Mitchell and a neighbor helped Lopez until the police arrived.

“When I knew he had her down good for the last time I took her shoes off, another lady took her backpack. He threw her phone in the grass so she couldn’t get away,” Mitchell said.

Police say this was a random attack. Mitchell said she thought the woman may have been following her for a few blocks, and her instinct was right.

“Follow your gut. Your gut is never wrong. Never,” she said.

Howard was taken to the Washington County Jail. Police say she told them she was high and they did find drugs her bag.

Mitchell was treated at a hospital for scrapes and a broken tailbone.

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