WESLEY CHAPEL (FOX 13) - A 72-year-old woman was recovering at home Thursday after she was left bruised and beaten following a violent home invasion and pistol-whipping in Wesley Chapel a day earlier.
Seated in her living, Jackie Hanlin didn't want to discuss how the situation unfolded or relive the traumatic details.
"I'm a little bit sore and got a couple of places on my head that are giving me some trouble, but aside from that, I'm thankful to be alive," she said.
As a retired teacher, what Hanlin wanted to do was pass along a valuable lesson.
"Many people think that it can't happen to me and I'm here to tell you that I live in a great neighborhood, very quiet and I have had no problems whatsoever. I feel so safe here and it happened to me," she told FOX 13. "You just need to be cautious about your surroundings, you need to not open the door until you know who is at the door, you need to just keep in mind that safety comes first."
Pasco County Sheriff Chris Nocco, on the other hand, had another message; one he hoped would reach the man who committed this crime.
"When we find you, the full extent and force of the Pasco Sheriff's Office will be coming down on you. I promise you that," Nocco warned. "It's not going to happen in Pasco again to this woman and I can tell you that suspect, we are going to hunt you down."
Nocco said the criminal might have been wandering around the area of Magnolia Boulevard Wednesday, looking for a house he could enter and randomly found the front door to Hanlin's home unlocked.
"The suspect comes in, he has two semi-automatic handguns in his hand," the sheriff said, adding the man was looking for cash but Hanlin only had eight dollars in her purse. "We believe at that point, the suspect gets agitated. He then strikes her across the head with one of the guns."
The man forced Hanlin into a bathroom, stole three guns and some prescription pills and took off. Deputies swarmed the area but were unable to track him down.
Hanlin, however, got a good look at the intruder and was able to help detectives come up with a composite sketch.
Meanwhile, Hanlin is not letting this make her feel unsafe in her home.
"It's been a wonderful neighborhood and it's still a wonderful neighborhood and I believe very strongly that it was just a random act," she said.
The suspect is considered armed and dangerous. Anyone who recognizes him should call the sheriff's office or Crime Stoppers, which is offering a $3,000 reward for information that leads to an arrest.