Man accused of attacking blind woman, 85

Aug. 30, 2013 @ 08:33 AM

An 85-year-old woman who is nearly blind and is crippled from arthritis says a man attacked her at her home Wednesday afternoon.

Johnny Henry Taylor, 65, of 121 Old North Road NW was arrested by Lenoir police Wednesday and charged with assault on a handicapped person and sexual battery. A $5,000 secured bond was set, and he was taken to the Caldwell County jail. An unrelated warrant from Catawba County charging him with trespassing was served on Taylor Thursday morning.

Delphia Whisnant said she was sitting on the couch shortly before 1 p.m. Wednesday at her home on Frazier Street in Lenoir when the doorbell rang, and it was Taylor, the nephew of the home's owner, Sonny Sumpter, who also lives at the residence and is bedridden.

"He (Taylor) asked me who all was here," Whisnant said. "I said Sonny. Johnny searched the house, looking in all the bedrooms."

She thinks Taylor was checking to see who was at home. Afterward, "He gave me a strange look, then he put his hand on my hair and grabbed me by the neck, pulling me up off the couch," Whisnant said. "I said, 'Take your hands off me.' He said, 'Your children will never know what happened.'"

She said she shoved Taylor and then elbowed him in the stomach. He then left the house and drove away in a Ford Ranger pickup. Delphia headed outside with her walker and sat in the grass, dazed and stunned. And in pain.

Her son, Mark Whisnant, and his girlfriend, Wendy Annas, returned from running an errand and called the police.

Delphia Whisnant said she slept Wednesday night with a glass flower vase in her hand as a potential weapon.

"I'm scared to death of him," she said.

A check of the N.C. Division of Adult Correction shows Taylor was convicted of assault on a female in 1980, second-degree sexual offense in 1990, indecent liberties with a child and attempted second-degree sexual offense in 1997, and failure to register as a sex offender in 2007.