Retiree tries to fight off alleged purse snatcher

Retired nurse Mary Mulauski was not going to give up her purse without a fight.

“I was grabbing at his face and head so I could get his DNA under my fingernails,” the 82-year-old woman testified Tuesday at Reuben McDowell’s preliminary hearing on robbery-related offenses.

From the stand, Mulauski identified the 55-year-old McDowell as the man who allegedly took her purse by force as she was getting back in her car at the Digiplex Cinema Center, 300 W. Fourth St., about 8:20 p.m. on Dec. 7.

“I didn’t want him to have it (the purse). I swore at him and told him ‘No,’ ” Mulauski said.

The woman had stopped at the movie theater to check the times of various movies. A bandit confronted her as she was getting into her car.

“He had one arm around me. He was able to immobilize me,” she said, adding that as she and the man fought we each other, she fell into her front seat.

The robber then grabbed her left arm and put pressure on it.

“I kind of gave up then,” Mulauski said. The confrontation left large black and blue marks on her arm for about 10 days, she testified.

The man reached over her, grabbed her purse and fled, the woman told District Judge James Carn, who ruled at the conclusion of the hearing that there was sufficient evidence to hold McDowell, of 640 Grace St., on city police charges of robbery, recklessly endangering, simple assault, theft and receiving stolen property.

Also testifying at the hearing was the arresting officer, Agent Raymond O. Kontz III, who told the judge that when McDowell was taken in on the charges, the accused told the investigator that he was “sorry” for what happened to Mulauski and that he was “not an evil man.”

McDowell said his “addiction forced him to do the things” he was accused of doing, Kontz said on the stand.

McDowell, has already been charged by state police with allegedly attacking and robbing another elderly woman in her Loyalsock Township home on Dec. 12 after following her from a township supermarket. State police also have charged him with taking a purse from a third elderly woman’s car while it was parked at a township supermarket. He remains incarcerated in the Lycoming County Prison in lieu of $475,000 bail.