Suspect charged in robbery of 86-year-old woman was grazed by bullet

Jeff Bobo • Feb 6, 2013 at 8:21 AM

BULLS GAP — Hawkins County detectives discovered Wednesday that the 86-year-old woman robbed in her Bulls Gap home on Feb. 1 actually did graze her assailant with a single shot from a .38 caliber revolver before the robber took the gun away and fled.

The suspect, Molena Nichole Dowell, 36, 1544 Fish Hatchery Road, Morristown, was arrested at her residence Wednesday and charged with aggravated robbery, burglary and theft.

Hawkins County Sheriff’s Office detectives allegedly recovered several items in Dowell’s vehicle that were stolen from Louise B. Howard during the robbery Friday at her home on Route 66-S in Bulls Gap.

Sheriff Ronnie Lawson said Dowell was identified because she pawned one of Howard’s rings at a Morristown pawn shop Saturday.

After arresting Dowell, HCSO detectives discovered she had a bullet wound on her right arm.

Lawson said the only connection between Dowell and Howard was that Dowell had previously lived near Howard for several years.

Howard called the HCSO on Friday afternoon to report a suspicious vehicle. Howard was speaking on the phone to Deputy Kenny Lunsford Jr. when she stated she heard a noise and laid the phone down. Lunsford then reportedly heard her screaming.

When deputies arrived at Howard’s residence, they found her front door had been forced open, and a large metal wrench was on a bathroom floor.

Howard told deputies she met the female intruder in her bedroom. The intruder reportedly told Howard she wasn’t going to hurt her and wanted her money and began to pull her through the hallway toward the kitchen.

“Mrs. Howard pulled a pistol and try to shoot the female attacker,” Lawson said. “When the attacker tried to take the pistol from her, the weapon discharged.”

The burglar then fled with the pistol and Howard’s purse, which contained a bank card, checkbook and rings.

Lawson told the Times-News on Wednesday that all stolen property except for one ring and the gun were recovered from Dowell’s vehicle.

Lawson added that he believes there was a male accomplice with Dowell in Friday’s robbery, but Dowell has said she acted alone.

During an interview with detectives on Wednesday, Dowell allegedly confessed to entering Howard’s home on Feb. 1 and taking her property.

Dowell also allegedly admitted she suffered a slight gunshot wound in the arm while struggling for the gun with Howard.

As of Wednesday evening, no bond had been set, and Dowell was lodged in the Hawkins County jail awaiting a Monday arraignment.

Lawson is asking anyone with information about a potential male accomplice in this robbery to call his office at (423) 272-4848.

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