BRADENTON, Fla. -- Eliseo Ortiz came to Sister Nora Brick's trailer on Valentine's Day, a logical choice for someone who wanted help calling his mother in Mexico.
The Irish nun's compassion for people in need is legend in Manatee County, Fla. "She has such a big heart, it makes her extremely vulnerable," said Jeff Belvo, a VISTA volunteer at the nun's Stillpoint House of Prayer. "She puts herself in harm's way."
Sadly, that was the case Monday.
The Valentine's Day gesture by Ortiz, 51, was apparently a ploy.
"I called the number for him," Sister Nora said Tuesday from her hospital bed at Manatee Memorial Hospital. "I tried it twice, but the number he'd given me was gibberish.
"What he really wanted was money, and when he realized I wasn't going to give him any, he got angry."
Ortiz repaid the 81-year-old nun's kindness with a beating, detectives say, that blackened both her eyes, broke her nose and left her with a concussion and cuts on her forehead.