The Hatewatch blog is managed by the staff of the Intelligence Project of the Southern Poverty Law Center, an Alabama-based civil rights organization.

Three Elderly Mennonite Women Attacked in ‘Heinous’ Hate Crime

By Bill Morlin on December 18, 2012 - 11:36 am, Posted in Hate Crime

Three Mennonite sisters, ranging in age from 84 to 90, remained hospitalized in Lancaster County, Penn., after being assaulted in their home in what authorities describe as a “heinous” and “unfathomable” hate crime.

The alleged perpetrator, 22-year-old Dereck Taylor Holt, was arrested Saturday, one day after a man posing as an insurance salesman forced his way into the women’s home. Over a two-hour period, the assailant used a stun gun on the women and punched, slapped and kicked them. They were left bound for about four hours after the assailant ransacked the house and fled, the Lancaster Intelligence Journal reported in today’s editions.

One of the women suffered a heart attack following the attack, another sustained a broken shoulder, and the third suffered a brain hemorrhage, Lancaster County District Attorney Craig Stedman said Monday.

“This is one of the most serious crimes that we’ve had in Lancaster County history, one of the most heinous crimes that didn’t result in a homicide,” Stedman said.

“I’ve been doing this for 20 years,” he said. “To say that I’m shocked by this – we’re all shocked by this – is an understatement.”

The prosecutor said the depth of Holt’s crime is “unfathomable,” and that it’s fortunate authorities aren’t investigating three homicides. “It doesn’t get much more serious than this,” Stedman said, adding that it appears the suspect “had plenty of time to think about this crime, to plan it out.”
Stedman said the suspect, who studied religion and philosophy while attending Lees-McRae College in Banner Elk, N.C., is believed to have targeted the women because of an unexplained hatred for Mennonites, the Lancaster newspaper reported.

There are conflicting reports about whether the suspect also is a Mennonite.  Holt lists his current home as Rimrock, Ariz., the newspaper reported.

Holt is charged with three counts each of aggravated assault, simple assault, reckless endangerment, ethnic intimidation, unlawful restraint and false imprisonment. He also is charged with single counts of robbery, burglary and theft.

Authorities didn’t disclose what led the Holt’s arrest.

After being arraigned Monday, he is being held at the Lancaster County Prison under a $1 million bail. He is a 2008 graduate of Hempfield High School, located in Landisville, Pa., not far from Lancaster.

The victims, Stedman said, are “doing fairly well, under the circumstances.”

  • brook

    Funny. Those advocating for women’s rights are de facto, virtuous despite the crazy fringe and anyone pushing for men’s rights is in a hate group. I am progressive minded, and used to be a planned parenthood educator and counselor. I did not realize splc had become so myopic in it’s ideology. For example I noticed they listed a number of falsely accused sites as “hate sites.” When “Save services” mentions that women initiate half the dv but are overwhelmingly the victims of injury from such entanglements, this is used as if it demonstrates how incorrect or heinous the site’s stand happens to be. Is there something wrong with what save services wrote? Do you expect a woman who hits a man with a frying pan or her fist to come out on top of the conflict? As someone who was punched in the face with a full roundhouse by a drunk friend’s wife a few years ago, I really take issue with this. Instead of knocking her into next week, I grabbed her shirt and pulled her to the floor with a warning. She immediately went to the phone as if to call the authorities. I heard she even wanted to try and press charges. I bet you would have backed her in this whole. The bias against men in your organization is obvious and you should be ashamed.

  • Reynardine

    Mrs. Captjack, you hereby receive the Golden Lightbulb for excellent ideas.

  • MrsCaptJack

    This is dispicable. Several things come to mind. First, I hope he is housed with inmates who love their grandmothers.

    Second, I agree that the severity with which he attacked these women reeks of abuse and a feeling of powerlessness on the part of the attacker.

    Third, I find the phrase “Violence begets violence” comes to mind and agree that we MUST address mental illness in this country. We absolutely must correct this type of behaviour before it rears up and acts.

    Finally, for those of you that said you’ll pray for the victims and/or the attacker. Pray also to bring about change and then follow through with THAT. Discuss this, sign petitions, call your local officials, write letters, tell your neighbours. Make a scene about this type of behaviour until something positive is actually accomplished in your community.

  • Kiwiwriter

    This is a horrible, disgraceful, and shocking incident.

    This man is an evil little sadist, and I hope he gets what he deserves. I know I sound harsh, but unlike other fellow liberals, I do not look at criminals and say, “They need our help.” I say, “They should be helped BEFORE they choose to commit the crime, so that they do NOT make the choice to commit the crime.” We can’t arrest our way out of the crime and violence issues. What we have to do is provide people with better choices first. If they still make the choice, we have to apply the stick. My sympathies are for the victims.

  • Linnea

    I also agree with Erika that this idiot may well be influenced/connected to the “Men’s Rights Movement.” There seems to be no other explanation, at least not that has come out yet.

  • Reynardine

    Matthew, a common robber would not have savaged them. There was unusual malice in this attack, though its foundations are perhaps yet to be determined.

  • Matthew

    This is simply an attack on old helpless women who might or might no have money – it isn’t about religion.

  • LoraSinger

    I doubt very much that these women were attacked for any reason except that they were old and vulnerable and possibly had money on the premises. Menonites are not normally a subject of any attack unless someone was of the more extremist right.

    I wouldn’t take this as an attack as an attack on religion but rather an attack on the aged for money.

  • Reynardine

    Caleb, you have displayed the wisdom to be wise.

  • Bente Susanne Hansen

    I am an atheist, but to attack somebody because of their faith, and elderly women at that, is beyound my imagination.

  • Caleb

    I agree with Reynardine; There are a lot more twisted sick people in this country than you think there are. It’s terrible that somebody would do this to helpless elderly women. He should be locked up away from society the rest of his life. I agree with the fact that the majority of abusers were abused as children. The entire prison system is made up of mostly abuse victims. That doesn’t excuse the behavior but it sure gives areguement that mental illness has been ignored and denied for way to long. Idaho has one of the worst records for funding mental health than almost any other state. It kind of follows suite then that the state is a refuge for some of the worst hate groups than any other state. It also begs the fact that guns and violence don’t happen in a vaccuum. I am absolutely no advocate of guns and i get so sick of the paranoia and macho manly arguements about how by God nobody is going to tell me I can’t own a gun of any kind no matter how deadly the type of gun may be. That crap is so wore out. They are right about one thing. Guns aren’t the problem. The problem belongs to all of society until we all stand up to change our violent culture by fundig more help for the mentally ill. I have struggled with mental illnes all my life from abuse and I can atest to the fact that mental help is not addressed in this country. I just thank God i didn’t turn that rage outward instead of inward. Because as we well know that is not always the case. As the saying goes “It takes a villiage to raise an idiot” and this nation is certainly capable of that. It needs to stop now. we all own a part in this by not speaking out and suppoting changes in our metality and help systems.

  • Brenda Hubbs

    This is an opportunity to counsel this troubled, angry, young, man and get him to therapy and medication, if need be. It is a time to require sensitivity classes and bring him to sit down in a controlled situation, if possible, to face these beautiful, elderly, women and to see them as God’s creations, and not objects of hate. I pray for the families of these women and pray for their health, along with praying for this very distrubed young man and his family, who must be hurting. Shalom

  • Reynardine

    Aron, if I had to select a model for a good man, you’d be very high on my list.

  • Aron

    Erika, you make a very good point. Though they may be too busy ‘throwin” “dem bones’ to remember their non-aggression axiom (whoops, wrong thread!).

    And Pam if you want to have some truly horrifying fun, I suggest you look up the Mens’ Rights articles on Hate Watch and read some of the comments. They make me ashamed for my gender.

  • Pam

    Erika, you might be right about that ‘Men’s Rights Movement’ thing, and this monster being a part of that. I stumbled across a Facebook page that I think belonged to one of those guys and let me tell you, it was truly disgusting in it’s sheer hatred of nearly all of womankind. According to him and his fans “there are some good, decent women out there”, but of course who and where they are is anyone’s guess, and I can’t even imagine how low their opinion of themselves would have to be to please such men.

    In conclusion, I think that anyone who calls himself a man and then attacks three frail, elderly women in such a fashion deserves the type of beat down that three strong men of any age would have given him. But of course, his type never seems to hate or attack anyone who really is capable of doing them physical harm, because essentially, they are cowards.

  • Erika

    Aron, with Mennonites you do have that entire pacificism and non-violence thing – its possible that they might turn the other cheek.

    What sort of man attacks elderly female pacificists? i betcha he turns out to be part of the Men’s Rights Movement.

  • Reynardine

    Concerned, the reason for this type of hatred is not in the hated, but in the hater. They need to hate. Their murderous rage makes them feel both “strong” and “good”, where they felt both “weak” and “bad” before. Abuse victims have often grown up without feeling such hatred, but I have never seen a diehard hater who wasn’t a victim of abuse. Moreover, I have seen them switch their hatred from one target group to another, sometimes wholly abandoning the first, to whom they can, however, return at the drop of a pin.

    This man victimized those whom he saw as the weakest of the weak: ancient ladies, ones far older than my own LXIX years. This means that secretly, he had no illusions about himself: he feared anyone even marginally stronger than that might defeat and humiliate him. But, having himself defeated and humiliated the ancient and frail, he can tell himself it is not he, but others, who have been punished in the way weakness is punished: therefore, he is “strong”. I suppose, though, we are lucky. With military type weaponry, he might have slaughtered a classroom full of schoolchildren.

  • Aron

    Leslie, that actually might have been quite entertaining. Mennonite men, being farmers (and prolific and shifty gamblers, according to one of my favorite jokes on ‘The Simpsons), would have probably beat the ever-living snot out of him.

    And that would have been fun to watch.

  • concernedcitizen

    It’s easier to prey upon the elderly. Hatred towards Mennonites? I thought them to be peaceful people. I would like to know the alleged reasoning for hating Mennonites.

    In any case, he was wrong.

  • Pam

    It’s interesting how he didn’t plan on attacking a home filled with several men who bigger, stronger, and of comparable age to him, who also happened to be Mennonite. Anyone care to guess why?

  • Reynardine

    Leslie, it can happen.

  • Leslie

    Hatred of *Mennonites*? Really?

  • Reynardine

    Another show of manly courage! At their age, it is unlikely these women will ever be whole again.

  • Aron

    Oh those poor, poor women! I can’t wait for the crazies to come and tell us there’s no such thing as a ‘hate crime.’

    Because this pretty much exemplifies everything wrong with that viewpoint.