PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — It was a vicious attack. A stranger threw a mixture of dangerous chemicals in a woman’s face as she left her Germantown home.

Police say the unprovoked attack happened last Tuesday in the city’s Germantown section. Now, the 61-year-old victim’s stepdaughter says her mother cannot see and still has a long road of recovery ahead.

Just after 6 a.m. on Oct. 6, 61-year-old Helen Jones saw a man standing near the end of her sidewalk on Newhall Street in Germantown.

“She’s a phlebotomist, so she was leaving her home like she does every day. And he asked her, was she good, as if he was asking her about her safety,” stepdaughter Aneesha Summerville said.

But that was the last thing on the suspect’s mind.

“When she looked up to him to respond to him to say yes, he threw a chemical in her face and ran off,” Summerville said.

Summerville says the potent mixture included Draino and it burned through Jones’ skin, blinding her.

“Me and my siblings are hopeful that if we keeping doing what we need to, she’ll be OK, but the doctors have given other suggestions and scenarios that this will probably be permanent, but we’re hoping that for a miracle,” Summerville said.

Police don’t have a good description of the suspect. They say he was wearing a mask.

“Now because everyone is masked, your guard is kind of down and you’re not really thinking, ‘Oh, this person might be out to harm me,’” Summerville said.

Summerville believes the suspect likely has a mental illness since the attack was random and unprovoked. Her focus is now on finding him and helping her stepmother recover.

“She has to depend on us now and she’s used to us depending on her. So it’s really hard to deal with,” Summerville said.

The family has created a GoFundMe to help with medical bills and the trauma therapy Jones will need.



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