HERMITAGE, Pa. -- A Pennsylvania woman left no doubt that a man trying to burglarize her home in July would get more than he bargained for.
During testimony at a preliminary hearing for her alleged assailant, Clara Devito provided a detailed narrative of what happened to her the night of July 25. That’s when she said Michael P. Bayless came into her house outside Hermitage, near the Ohio-Pennsylvania border, and threatened to rape her and steal her money.
Devito, 81, testified that she ordered Bayless out of her house, argued with him over who needed her money more and got back up after he pushed her to the floor several times. And, after he cut her badly, she was more interested in cleaning the blood off the floor than in going to the hospital for treatment.
“The police wouldn’t let me clean it,” she said. “They said, ‘This is evidence. You get out of here and get in the ambulance.’”
Devito testified that she had returned to her home at about 8:15 p.m. and was reading a newspaper in her living room when she heard a noise at her front door. The noise continued to grow louder before a man was in the room with her.
“I said, ‘What are you doing? Get out of my house.’ He wouldn’t get out,” Devito said. The man pulled a knife and held it to her throat, she added. “He said he was gonna rape me,” Devito testified. I said, ‘Why don’t you go home and do those things to your mother.’ ”
She continued, saying the man asked her where her money was. She said it was in her purse in the kitchen. The man pulled $32 from her purse, she said, recalling the exact bill denominations.
“I said, ‘I need that more than you.’ He said, ‘What for?’ I said, ‘I need a haircut and I need gas,’” Devito said.
He asked her where her credit and debit cards and safe were.
“I said, ‘What do you think I am, a bank?’ ” she said.
When the man went into her bedroom and looked around, Devito went to the kitchen to call for help. As she was dialing, the man came into the room, knocked her to the floor – the first of several times he did so – and cut her arm, she said.
“He cut me clean down to the bone,” she said. “I could see the bone, he cut me so deep.”
The man “walked in my blood” and left, and Devito completed her call for help.
Twenty-three stitches closed the wound, which she said still is painful, and her back and tailbone were injured from the repeated pushes to the floor. “I can hardly walk” and have a lot of trouble negotiating stairs, she said.
While Devito’s testimony was detailed, she was unable to identify Bayless. She testified the assailant was white, about 28 to 30 years old with brown hair and wore a sweatshirt and hat.
Police identified Bayless as a suspect by video footage from a convenience store about 600 feet from Devito’s home, said detective John Miller.
Reviewing the footage, police saw a man who seemed to match her description walking into the convenience store just after the attack. Bayless’ car was seen driving through the parking lot, arriving about an hour before the assault, and leaving shortly afterward, Miller said.
Police ultimately seized from his home and car a pair of sandals and a sweatshirt, which tests revealed had human blood on them, Miller said. Further testing is being done to try to get a DNA profile, he added.
Bayless remains jailed on $200,000 bond pending further action in the case.
Information for this story was reported by the Sharon (Pa.) Herald.