TV Anchor's Brutal Beating Puzzles Cops

By: CBS/AP
By: CBS/AP

(CBS/AP) Anne Pressly's personality made her a hit with television viewers. Now, police want to know whether her celebrity made her a target.

The popular KATV anchorwoman, who had a small part in the new Bush biopic "W," was in critical but stable condition Tuesday after a severe beating in her home. Investigators aren't sure whether she was the random victim of a home invasion or a target because of her high-profile job.

"(It) is possible that it is something other than robbery," police spokeswoman Cassandra Davis said. "Our detectives are talking with co-workers because she was a public figure, because she was on the news, in the media."

Pressly, 26, was found Monday a half-hour before she was due on the set of "Daybreak," a morning mix of news and features on Little Rock's ABC affiliate. Her mother discovered the anchorwoman battered and bloodied after she didn't answer a wake-up call.

Pressly was in her bed, unresponsive and bleeding from her head. Davis described the injuries as "severe wounds" and said Pressly had been stabbed. KATV, citing investigators, said her injuries were from blunt force trauma to the head and upper body.

Pressly's purse was missing, and police said she may have been beaten during a robbery, though there was no sign of forced entry into her home. Asked whether Pressly may have been targeted because of her job, Davis said officers were talking to station employees to determine whether Pressly "has had any problems." Davis would not discuss specifics.

In a statement Tuesday, Pressly's family said she has a "long struggle of recovery ahead of her."

"She is a fighter, a strong, healthy and physically fit young woman," said the statement, released by KATV. "We expect her to recover completely. We ask that you continue to pray for Anne and for us."

The family thanked people who had donated blood in Pressly's name, and asked for privacy.

Joey Sabb, Pressly's neighbor, told CBS' The Early Show Tuesday that he was unaware of any trouble she faced. "Everyone's in shock," Sabb said of the neighborhood, calling Pressly a "first-class girl" with "a heart of gold."

KATV president and general manager Dale Nicholson said the anchorwoman "simply lights up the room, by just walking in."

"The KATV family is having to deal with a personal crisis in our lives with the senseless brutality last night to one of our Daybreak anchors, Anne Pressly," Nicholson said in a statement Monday.

The last known contact with Pressly was between 9:30 p.m. and 10:30 p.m. Sunday.

A friend and colleague at KARK-TV, Mallory Hardin, said she had dinner with Pressly that night, then later went to see "W" with other friends. Hardin said she and Pressly exchanged text messages about the film afterward and that nothing seemed out of the ordinary.

Pressly sent her a "bubbly, wonderful text," Hardin told NBC's "Today" show on Tuesday. She said news of her friend's attack was surreal.

"If there's one person that doesn't have an enemy, it is Anne Pressly," Hardin said. "She's wonderful to everybody. She's the most loving girl that anyone could ever meet."

Police said Pressly's mother, Patricia Cannady, regularly gives her daughter a wake-up call and went to her home Monday when Pressly didn't answer. A man who answered Cannady's phone said the family had no comment.

Pressly won a small role in the new Oliver Stone movie after traveling to Shreveport, La. - where much of the movie was filmed - to work on a story on the region's film industry. The movie's casting director noticed her and cast her to appear as a conservative commentator who speaks favorably of Bush's "Mission Accomplished" event on an aircraft carrier shortly after the start of the Iraq war.

Kate Hubin, a spokeswoman for the film company Lionsgate, confirmed Pressly's role but declined further comment.

KATV's Web site notes that Pressly's most notable interview was with Vice President Dick Cheney. Traveling through an Arkansas town, the anchorwoman found the highway blocked in front of a hunting goods store because Cheney was inside. Pressly asked for an interview, which she conducted in the ammunition aisle.

© MMVIII, CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.


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