By WAYNE FORD updated Monday, May 14, 2012 – 10:39pm
A 73-year-old woman attacked in her sleep last Friday at her home in Oconee County likely will lose an eye as a result of the brutal assault that crushed the left side of her face, but she has improved enough to leave intensive care, her daughter said Monday.
“She will have more eye surgery, and they will probably have to remove her eye,” Christina Johncox of Rochester, N.Y., said Monday about her mother, Judith Gilvey, who remains at Athens Regional Medical Center.
On Sunday, Gilvey was able to speak with her daughter after tubes were removed, “which was a blessing,” her daughter said.
“The sheriff told me he was so sorry it was such a sad Mother’s Day, but I said, ‘She’s alive, and I get to spend the day with her, so I’m grateful for that.’ It could have been much worse.”
Almost 11 hours after Gilvey was attacked in her Peacock Drive home near High Shoals, Oconee County sheriff’s deputies arrested Jacob Potter Wagner, 22, of Rays Church Road, Bishop, after he abandoned his car and went into the woods near Barber Creek off Old Macon Highway.
Oconee County Sheriff Scott Berry said Wagner entered the victim’s home about midnight and beat the woman in the face and head with a blunt object while she slept in bed. Wagner, who did handyman jobs for the woman, had argued with her just hours earlier on Thursday about a job, according to reports.
The sheriff has not revealed what object investigators believe the man used in the attack.
“At this point, we’re not ready to describe it,” Berry said. “We are looking for the blunt object. We think we know what it was, but we’re not prepared to discuss it.”
A $75,000 bond was set for Wagner on an aggravated battery charge, but on Monday the sheriff’s office filed additional charges of burglary and aggravated assault against him. No bond has been set for those, according to Berry. In addition, Walton County has a “hold” on Wagner him for a probation violation.
The attack broke numerous bones in Gilvey’s head and ruptured an eyeball, according to Johncox.
Johncox learned about the attack from her mother’s caregiver, who spends the day with her.
The attack apparently rendered Gilvey unconscious for a period of time.
“By the grace of God, she woke up. She didn’t know what had happened to her. She saw the blood and she called 911 — and 911 called her caregiver,” Johncox said.
Johncox, who went to the University of Georgia, said her mother moved to the Athens area soon after she had finished UGA. Johncox then moved back to New York.
“She came here and built her dream house,” Johncox said. “I’ve always been a little worried because she lived by herself, but she’s kind and she tries to help people all the time.”
She expressed shock at the violence of the crime.
“They did have a falling out, and she fired him,” the daughter said. “But to come back at night and hit her in the head. It was vengeful. I don’t understand it at all.”
“She wasn’t a threat to him. She’s a tiny little lady. She’s 5 foot tall,” she said.
In the wake of the crime, Johncox said people have responded.
“It’s amazing how out of such evil, comes this outpouring of love and support for her. It’s incredible. Everybody has been so kind. I appreciate it,” she said, adding, “I cannot thank the sheriff’s department enough.”
Berry also announced Monday that a bank account has been established at Athens First Bank & Trust for people to make donations to help cover Gilvey’s medical needs. The bank will accept donations at any branch for the Judith Gilvey Benefit Fund.