Woman Arrested in Violent Attacks on Elderly Shoppers

Victims followed home from Fort Worth grocery stores, police say

A Fort Worth woman was arrested in connection with a series of violent robberies targeting elderly grocery shoppers, police said.

Sheila Parker, 44, was in the Tarrant County jail Tuesday night, charged with robbing and beating a 90-year-old woman in October.

The violent attacks started late last year. 

About a dozen victims, many in their 80s and 90s, were followed home from grocery stores and robbed, police said.

The crimes were unusual not just because of the age of the victims, but also because the attackers were female.

Parker is suspected of working with two or three other women. More charges are possible, police said.

Cullin Horton, 96, was one of the first victims in September.

"She grabbed me around the waist and slung me against the bricks," Horton said, pointing to the side of his garage. "She was real strong."

As the robberies continued, police stepped up patrols and devoted more resources to stopping the crimes.

Detectives obtained a surveillance photo of one of the robbers and, acting on a tip, arrested Parker. Her mug shot closely resembles the woman in the surveillance photo.

"If you keep on and keep on and keep on doing bad, it's going to catch up to you," Horton said when he was informed of the arrest.

Some of the victims' lives have changed since the attacks.

Horton said he often gets the feeling someone is following him.

"I can't get rid of it," he said. "It's changed me completely."

The 90-year-old woman Parker is charged with attacking fractured her hip and had to move from her house into a retirement home, her son said.

Parker, also known as Sheila Gaffrey, has a lengthy criminal history.

She was first arrested for theft in 1983 and served 60 days in jail, public records show.

In 1990, she was convicted of fraud and sentenced to two years in prison.  She was released on mandatory supervision after serving 9 months, said a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice.

In 1996, she was convicted of forgery and served 90 days in jail.

In 2001, she received a 60-day sentence for trespassing.

In 2006, she served another 30 days for assaulting a family member.

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