A man has been arrested on suspicion of murdering a 100-year-old widow who died nine days after she was attacked in a street robbery on her way to church in Derby.
Zofija Kaczan died in the early hours of Wednesday morning, having suffered multiple injuries on May 28 when she was approached from behind and thrown to the ground by a mugger who made off with her handbag.
The centenarian was left with a broken neck, a fractured cheekbone, and bruising to her face following the incident, which took place at 8.45am just moments after she had set out on the short walk to church from her home.
A devout Catholic who received a card from the Pope last month, when she celebrated her 100th birthday. Mrs. Kaczan managed to reach the St. Maksymilian Kolbe Church with a bag strap still in her hand before collapsing, DerbyshireLive reports.
BREAKING: A man has been arrested on suspicion of murder after Zofija Kaczan died yesterday. More to follow pic.twitter.com/VHrAxzflsX
— ITV News Central (@ITVCentral) June 7, 2018
Police on Friday morning said a 39-year-old man who was first arrested on suspicion of robbery relating to the incident is now being held over the woman’s death.
Friends and neighbours described the Polish woman, who was captured by Germans and forced to work in factories during World War II before moving with her husband to Britain, as “remarkable and strong”.
Anna Skrytek, 80, who had known Mrs. Kaczan for 50 years and helped her into the church after the attack, said it was down to the hardships and experiences in her life that her friend “was able to find the strength to walk to the church, maybe we even had God’s strength too”.
A neighbour, who did not wish to be named, said: “She was in amazing nick for her age and I’m shocked she’s died. Hopefully her family is coping after the news.”
ICYMI Zofija Kaczan, the 100-year-old victim of a robbery in a #Derby street, sadly passed away in the early hours of this morning. The investigation into this incident is ongoing, particularly around an abandoned beige Seat Leon. https://t.co/A4Imn8KdN7 pic.twitter.com/t75Qi5rW7Q
— Derbyshire Police (@DerbysPolice) June 6, 2018
Anna Krepa, 82, who visited her regularly, said that Mrs. Kaczan deteriorated significantly in the days following the attack, telling The Times: “I had been to visit her in hospital and she seemed very alert but when I visited her in the nursing home later she was not herself. It was like she had given up. She didn’t really communicate or respond.”
“She had such a tough life”, Mrs. Krepa said, revealing that her friend “had been through a lot during the war and was taken to a concentration camp in Germany”.
“To go through what she did and then have her life taken from her like this is so tragic. She still had more time and could have lived longer, as she was still so active,” she added.
Neighbours also paid tribute to Mrs. Kaczan’s kindness, with Lucy Kay telling the media that “she used to bring chocolate around for my children at Easter and Christmas”.
“She was the nicest old lady who would go down to the shops in her slippers. She was lovely. Whoever did this deserves to rot. I’m so sorry that she’s passed away,” another neighbour told The Times.