An elderly Omaha woman -- the survivor of a bizarre February fire and assault -- took the stand Thursday and described her frantic attempts to save herself and her husband.
Raymond "Bob" Vasholz, 83, died after, prosecutors say, neighbor Terrance Hale attacked them and set fires in their Florence home, 7124 N. 33rd St.
Elizabeth "Betty" Vasholz described how she and her husband of 58 years were in the living room when she was startled by the shatter of glass in their basement -- and a man storming up the stairs.
He demanded money.
"I said we don't have any money," Betty Vasholz testified. "I said I'd write him a check. He said he didn't want a check. He started hitting me and Bob."
Betty Vasholz said she swung a brass lamp at the intruder -- a man she recognized as a neighbor. She hit him twice in the back and the back of the head.
The intruder then grabbed a piece of paper off the desk and set it on fire.
Asked if her attacker was in the courtroom, Betty Vasholz said, "yes."
She didn't look directly at Hale as she raised her arm and pointed at the defense table. "He's wearing a black suit and a white shirt," Vasholz said.
"Is there any doubt in your mind that that's the person?" prosecutor Beth Beninato asked.
"Yes," she said, before correcting herself.
"Is there any doubt?" Beninato said, louder.
Vasholz shook her head.
Vasholz said she was so concerned about getting help that she raced down three steps, unlatched five locks on a side door and rushed for help. She was naked after Hale had ripped off her shirt during the attack, Vasholz testified.
"The thing is, he was hurting my husband," she said. "I figured I had to get out of there and get help."