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Three elderly women attacked because of their religion remain hospitalized, police say

By Adam Klein, 69 News Photojournalist
Published On: Dec 17 2012 11:13:45 AM CST
Updated On: Dec 18 2012 04:16:05 AM CST

Man charged with attack on elderly Mennonite women

CLAY TWP., Pa. -

Three elderly women from Lancaster County remain hospitalized tonight, after police say, they were attacked because of their religion.

Northern Lancaster County Regional Police stated that Dereck Taylor Holt, 22, is facing numerous charges after assaulting three elderly women because of their faith. Police stated that the victims are between the ages of 84 and 90 and are sisters.

Investigators stated on Monday that they believe this to be a "hate crime."

"We are extremely fortunate and thankful that we're not talking about three counts of homicide today," said Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman.

Around 4:20 Friday afternoon, police and haz-mat crews in Clay Township, Lancaster County, were called to the scene of an assault in the 300 block of Indiantown Road. Stedman stated that a relative of three elderly Mennonite women found their loved ones restrained and bound inside their home.

"The thought of leaving three women of those ages duct taped and bound is really incomprehensible," said Stedman.

Stedman stated that earlier Friday morning, Holt posed as an insurance salesman to get inside the residence. Once inside, investigators stated that Holt attacked two of the women using a stun-gun to repeatedly shock them as well as strike them multiple times. A third woman, Stedman stated, came to the home during the assault and she was attacked too.

"One of them suffered a heart attack. One had a broken shoulder and the other one has a brain bleed," said Stedman.

After the attack, investigators stated, Holt poured household chemicals around the house. They believe that Holt was at one time a member of the Mennonite faith and the attack was the result of personal anger and hostility he had towards the Mennonite community.

Holt is being held at Lancaster County Prison. Stedman stated that Holt did not know the women who were assaulted. Family members of the victims told 69 News that they are still in shock that this happened.