93-year-old man beaten, hospitalized after overnight attack

Published 9:45 am Wednesday, January 20, 2021

SALISBURY — A 93-year-old man was badly beaten by two men late Tuesday and early Wednesday while attempting to let his dog out.

The Rowan County Sheriff’s Office says Thomas “Tommy” Olin Eller was attacked by two men after opening his back door at his home on Little Crane Cove Lane. He suffered a 3- or 4-inch gash on his head that required staples and a gash in his lip that needed stitches. Eller was also transported to to Novant Health Presbyterian Medical Center after receiving a bruise on his brain from the attack.

First responders initially were dispatched to the scene at 12:30 a.m. Wednesday believing it was a medical call, said Maj. John Sifford. But medical personnel upon arrival told 911 communicators that it was a home invasion and attempted robbery.

Eller was found awake and conscious on the floor of the lower level of his home. He was bleeding from his mouth and head.

It’s believed the attackers knew Eller because the called him by name and repeatedly asked where he kept his safe. Eller answered that he didn’t have one.

The attackers were described as young, white men who were wearing masks. They kicked Eller while he was on the floor and the 93-year-old victim lost two of his teeth, Sifford said. At some point during the attack, Eller told first responders, he stopped moving. The suspects left, and that’s when he was able to call 911 for help.

Sheriff’s deputies checked Eller’s home after arriving to make sure it was clear. It didn’t appear that it had been ransacked, but his phone is believed to be missing.

People with information about this incident can submit tips to Salisbury-Rowan Crimestoppers at 1-866-639-5245 or online at tips.salisburyrowancrimestoppers.org