Monday, June 29, 2015
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Published: Wednesday, 7/9/2003

The city mourns its loss

All of Toledo should mourn Amelia Topolski, the 89-year-old woman who was viciously murdered in her home last week. Any murder saddens. Yet the slaying of a helpless elderly woman evokes a special rage and indignation.

Ms. Topolski was found dead in her Nebraska Avenue home three days after she was brutally beaten for a mere $13 and her compact car. Police have two young men in custody, and both have confessed to the crime.

What prompted the perpetrators to enter the home of an elderly woman living alone and so cruelly gag and beat her before killing her? Was it drugs? Was it for kicks? Was it gang-related? Was it a symptom of the nation's social ills: high unemployment, poor educational outcomes, and too little organized activity for youth and young adults? Was it disrespect for senior citizens?

The details are horrifying. In fact, what happened to Ms. Topolski so shocked Toledoans that it was the talk throughout the holiday weekend and reminded us all of the importance of valuing our senior citizens, whether or not they are members of our own families.

Even Mayor Jack Ford is on board on that note. After visiting the scene of the crime, he urged citizens to be aware of and keep an eye out for their elderly neighbors. After seeing high brush near Ms. Topolski's home, he plans to develop a registry of senior citizens and make it a priority to have the brush removed and other safety measures implemented at seniors' homes.

Fortunately, the mayor now has a new safety director for the first time in more than a decade. Retired deputy fire chief Joe Walter underscored the importance of giving homeland security issues the attention they deserve. But he said, what people really fear is crime. True, and hopefully he can help minimize that fear.

Perhaps he can offer guidance as police investigate burglaries at the homes of elderly residents in South Toledo. The day before Ms. Topolski's body was found, a Cragmoor Avenue man, 81, reported his wallet taken in a burglary. On June 25, a Framptom Avenue woman, 80, lost her purse and credit cards in a burglary.

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