When the knock came at her front door the afternoon of Oct. 14 and Constance King listened to the strange man’s tale of his poor, missing puppy, she couldn’t help but be courteous. The alternative isn’t in her nature, she said.
So she unlocked the door.
Before she could get the door halfway open, the man pushed his way into her Las Vegas home, near Smoke Ranch Road and Buffalo Drive, knocked her to the floor, sat on her midsection and began to punch her in the head, face, arms and chest, she later told police.
He didn’t stop hitting her until the 65-year-old King, frightened and confused, was able to tell him the location of her wallet and car keys, she said.
She said she was struck about 40 times. “I didn’t count every one, but that’s what it seemed like to me,” she said.
King told her story today, minutes after hearing that a suspect, Daniel Ruiz, 20, was arrested in the beating. She said she isn’t going to let anyone, including the attacker, make her afraid to live how and where she wants to live.
Two police reports released today describe what happened after the attack and how the suspect was found.
After the beating, the man entered the kitchen, took her purse and keys, fled to the garage and disappeared in her silver 2009 Infiniti G35, a police report states.
With help from a composite sketch drawn using details King provided police and distributed to the news media, Ruiz was identified by numerous callers who claimed to recognize the suspect, police spokeswoman Barbara Morgan said.
“They (the sketch and Ruiz) look extremely similar,” she said.
But when police went looking for Ruiz on Sunday, they found that he was already in custody.
Earlier that day, Ruiz was arrested after a woman’s purse was snatched from a bookstore table, according to police.
An anonymous man, later identified as a retired officer from the Metropolitan Police Department, witnessed the theft and managed to catch and detain Ruiz before he could escape, according to a second arrest report.
After being questioned about the crimes committed against King, Ruiz admitted his guilt, confirming to police the location of King’s car, which he abandoned days earlier, the report states.
Ruiz was re-booked into the Clark County Detention Center for burglary, robbery of a victim older than 60, kidnapping in the first degree of a victim older than 60, battery with substantial bodily harm of a victim older than 60 and automotive grand larceny.
The charges are in addition to the grand larceny and possession of stolen credit card charges, which were related to the bookstore crime, police said.
Despite both incidents taking place within a short time of each other, Morgan said Ruiz, born in Los Angeles, has no local criminal history.
“His only arrests in Las Vegas were these ones (on Sunday),” she said.
Morgan said the crime against King was random and the attacker wasn’t stalking her.
King’s garage door was open several feet, which could have tipped the suspect off about the type of car, she said.
“He may have been thinking of doing a burglary first, instead of knocking on the door,” Morgan said.
Although the bruises have yet to fade completely and the mental trauma lingers, when King looks in the mirror she refuses to focus on the fear that ripped through her that day. She said she’s not going to let the attack stop her from living her life.
“Of course I’m still nervous, but it’s my home. I’m not going to be afraid to come to my home,” King said.
She spent about eight hours in University Medical Center’s trauma unit the day of the attack, where she was treated for the bruises, she said.
Luckily she suffered no broken bones or internal damage, she said.
“I’m feeling much better,” she said. “At one time my right eye was swollen shut.”
Afterward, King spent several days recovering at her daughter’s home in Las Vegas, at her family’s request.
King moved from Texas 10 years ago to be closer to her daughter and grandchildren, but that didn’t necessarily mean she wanted to live with them on a permanent basis, she said.
She has lived alone since her husband died several years ago and said she isn’t ready for a change.
“I knew I had to go home and move on and not let him take it away from me,” she said, referring to her assailant. “I wasn’t about to let him take my independence away.”
Her biggest disappointment was being told by police and family that she shouldn’t open her door for strangers anymore, even for someone claiming to be a neighbor searching for a lost dog at 1:30 p.m.
“This guy told me he was a neighbor around the corner,” she said. “You just can’t be nice to people anymore.”
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0283.