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Elderly woman attacks neighbor with pliers after setting a fire outside her house

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Dave Rogers

The Daily News of Newburyport, Mass.

AMESBURY — Minutes after setting a small fire outside her neighbor’s apartment door Tuesday night, a Brown Avenue woman struck the neighbor several times in the face with pliers, according to local police.

Joanne Feldman, 82, now faces arson, assault and battery with a dangerous weapon of a person over 60, and other serious charges. Her victim, according to police, suffered cuts to her face and body but declined treatment.

Feldman swallowed several oxycodone pills before police could arrest her. She was transported to Anna Jaques Hospital in Newburyport where she remained Wednesday. She is scheduled to be arraigned on those charges Thursday in Newburyport District Court along with malicious destruction of property over and under $1,200, and assault with a dangerous weapon.

Amesbury police Officers Samuel Marlar, Liam Leary and Noah Pressley responded to Brown Avenue about 7:45 p.m. Tuesday after receiving reports of a woman screaming for help. When they arrived, Feldman and an acquaintance were standing in a hallway, the smell of smoke coming from a burned welcome mat.

A short distance away, the 67-year-old victim was behind a fire door with a panicked look on her face.

“(The victim) had blood coming from a laceration on her forehead, blood splatters on her shirt, blood on her right arm and blood with a small cut on her left arm. (The victim) looked panicked and said ‘keep her away from me,'” Marlar wrote in his report.

Minutes earlier, firefighters responded to the apartment to put out a small fire at the victim’s front door. They returned a few minutes later to examine the victim’s wounds and take Feldman to the hospital.

The victim said she heard a noise at her door and went to check it out. There she saw a small piece of paper under her door.

“(The victim) said that is when she could smell the smoke. (The victim) said she opened the door and ‘the neighbor down the hall attacked me with a plier.’ (The victim) said that she noticed her prescription eyeglasses broke when Joanne struck her. As Joanne continued to attack her she also tried to bite her in the arm,” Marlar wrote in his report, adding that Feldman chased the victim until she fled into her apartment.

As officers separated Feldman and the victim, she pulled out a set of channel lock pliers and tried to hit the woman again. Leary and Marlar stopped her swing and rushed her away from the victim, according to Marlar’s report.

As Leary spoke to Feldman, Marlar brought the victim back to her apartment and noticed the burned welcome mat and a lighter later identified as belonging to Feldman. By this time. Sgt. Lauren Tirone and Detective Sgt. David Noyes arrived to assist.

“Officer Leary and Officer Pressley were attempting to take Joanne into custody when Joanne requested to muzzle her dog. Joanne, who was in her bedroom at the time, then grabbed a pill bottle and swallowed an unknown quantity of medication (oxycodone) and stated that she just wanted to die,” Marlar wrote in his report.

In Newburyport District Court on Wednesday, Feldman’s attorney, Stephen Roth, told Judge Allen Swan that his client was still in the hospital suffering from pneumonia and was unable to communicate with him. That prompted Swan to delay Feldman’s arraignment until Thursday but as a precaution, he issued a nonbailable warrant for her arrest.

About the same time, an Essex County prosecutor informed Swan that Feldman was charged with stabbing someone in 2021. Roth pointed out that charges related to the stabbing were dropped.

It is unknown if Feldman will be arraigned at the courthouse or from her hospital bed.

Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

Dave Rogers is a reporter with the Daily News of Newburyport. Email him at: drogers@newburyportnews.com. Follow him on Twitter @drogers41008.

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