Bertha "Bert" Meier was in the emergency room last month, reeling from an assault that left her broken and battered, when she told the staff she needed to use the phone.
The 95-year-old widow wanted to speak with her niece, Jo Ann Meier, her only relative in Las Vegas.
"She called and said, ‘I can’t remember the name of the beauty parlor, but I have an appointment tomorrow. Can you find it and cancel?’ " recalled her niece.
Meier said that was the kind of person her aunt was. She recently had her driver’s license renewed. She went to the dentist four times a year. Her home was immaculate, dusted and vacuumed weekly, said Meier, 55.
Even in an emergency room, a day before reconstructive surgery, her major concern was a minor appointment, Meier said.
"Who does that when they’re 95 years old? She was completely independent," she said.
But Bert Meier’s independence was taken away from her at 9:56 a.m. on July 26, when she was attacked in the parking lot of a Smith’s Food and Drug store near Desert Inn Road and Decatur Boulevard. Meier’s hip was shattered during the attack, an injury she could not recover from. She died Monday.
The battery suspect, a young woman being sought by police, targeted Meier because she wanted to steal her purse, Las Vegas police said.
Meier was tackled to the ground by the woman, but she wrapped her arms around the purse, refusing to let go.
"The mugger yelled, ‘I have her purse’ and she said, ‘Oh no you don’t,’ " Jo Ann Meier said of her aunt.
What happened to her aunt next is what bothers Meier the most.
Instead of releasing her aunt, the unidentified suspect dragged her several feet across the pavement, scraping her across the face and arms. The suspect gave up after a short time and fled to a getaway car, driven by a second woman, police said.
Meier said the viciousness of the attack demoralized her aunt.
"For them to do what they did, that is absolutely horrible," she said. "When they didn’t get it (her purse) why not just leave her alone? Why did they have to drag her through the parking lot? That’s what killed her."
Several days after the surgery, her aunt was taken to Spring Valley Hospital Medical Center for rehabilitation. Doctors said they expected her to recover, but about a week after the incident her health rapidly worsened, Meier said.
"It was like taking a roast beef and slicing it up," Meier said. "A piece of her was just going away every day."
If police can find the women who attacked her aunt, that would help speed up the grieving process, she said.
The suspect is described as white, 20 to 24 years old, standing 5 feet 5 inches tall and weighing 120 to 140 pounds. She was wearing a light-brown dress during the attack.
The driver was an adult white woman and possibly has brown hair. The car, which was captured on store surveillance, was dark blue and is possibly a Nissan Sentra, police said.
Meier said her aunt deserves justice. Although Bert, a former cosmetologist from Brooklyn in New York City , had no children, she was loved by many, Meier said. She hopes those who hear her aunt’s story think of their own loved ones.
"They (the suspects) did this in broad daylight," she said. "Think of that the next time you think of your grandmother."
Contact reporter Mike Blasky at email@example.com or 702-383-0283.