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    Monday, May 29, 2023

    Stonington police identify suspects in beating of Black woman in Mystic

    Mystic — Stonington police on Monday afternoon identified the white couple wanted in connection with the beating of a Black woman while she worked at the Quality Inn on June 26.

    Police identified the suspects as Philip Sarner, 39, and Emily Orbay, 28. Police have obtained a warrant charging Sarner with second-degree assault and a warrant charging Orbay with third-degree assault.

    Police said they do not have permanent addresses for the pair, but they are known to reside in Nassau County on Long Island. Capt. Todd Olson said police in New York are checking addresses and associates of the couple in an attempt to locate them.

    Olson said police as well as M. John Strafaci, the attorney for victim Crystal Caldwell, are asking anyone with information about the whereabouts of the suspects to call their local police department or Stonington police at (860) 599-4411.

    Reached by The Day by text message Monday, Sarner refused to comment. 

    Public records indicate that Sarner has an extensive criminal record and has served prison sentences in New York.

    While Stonington police also had included information in the warrant application seeking to charge the couple with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, the state's hate crime statute, the state's attorney's office did not include that charge in the arrest warrants.

    Michael Regan, state's attorney for the New London Judicial District, declined to comment on why charges of intimidation based on bigotry or bias were not signed off on.

    Regan said that he is working with the U.S. Attorney's office regarding this case and the investigation is still ongoing. He said evidence is still being reviewed and it's possible additional charges will be filed.

    Caldwell, 59, of Groton, has said a white New York couple called her an “old monkey” and told her “Black Lives Matter? Your life doesn’t matter, you don’t deserve to live on this Earth,” while beating her after complaining about the lack of hot water in their room. Caldwell suffered a concussion, a swollen face and a badly injured right eye, along with injuries to her wrists and ribs and back in two separate attacks. All three people involved were brought to the hospital after the incident, as the couple requested treatment as well.

    Video from the hotel shows a man punching, stomping and body slamming Caldwell to the ground. Some have criticized police after the couple fled after being released from Lawrence + Memorial Hospital, a few hours after the attack.

    Olson has said police called the hospital and said a suspect in an assault was being treated in the emergency room and officers would like to come over to interview him and place him under arrest. Olson said police were told they should not come to the hospital due to COVID-19 precautions. The hospital has declined to comment on what police were told.

    Police intended to apprehend the couple after they were released from the hospital and returned to the hotel to collect their belongings, but they were able to return and drove off in their car.

    In a statement issued Monday, L+M spokeswoman Fiona Phelan said that "consistent with all patient privacy laws, it is the policy of L+M Hospital to cooperate with law enforcement in performing their duties at the hospital."

    She said that when it comes to allowing police into the hospital, nothing has changed due to COVID-19.

    "Our policies haven't changed due to COVID, just that everyone who comes to the hospital has to be screened," said Phelan.

    Phelan, though, would not comment on the specific conversation the hospital had with Stonington police.



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