JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- A deaf woman living on the Westside is taking justice into her own hands.
She sketched a picture of a man she says took what little hearing she has left.
The suspect's face is burned into Elizabeth Melaugh's memory. She is a 20-year-old art student who began losing her hearing to a tumor when she was 13.
"I'm now 95 percent deaf in my right ear, and 65 percent on my left ear."
Multiple expensive surgeries left her unable to afford more than one, outdated hearing aid, until a miracle earlier this year. Melaugh won a much needed $5,000 replacement pair at a raffle hosted by a local hearing group.
Months later she was able to enroll in her first semester of college and get a job.
"My life was amazing. Everything was clear and I didn't have to strain to hear my teachers."
But just after 10 p.m. on Friday, Oct. 25, Melaugh was robbed.
"I had just started my first day on the job, and I took the bus home. I'd never walked down Renault Drive before. I could see three guys in a car pull up beside me. They're yelling at me from the car and I don't hear them because I don't have my hearing aids in. I had headphones with music that I like to try and listen to."
One man jumped out and rushed toward her, and Melaugh said she froze.
"He just pointed the gun in my face, grabbed my purse off my shoulder, ran back in the car and then they backed off so I couldn't see the license plate. The most vivid image in my mind is me staring down the barrel of that gun."
The suspects got away with $3 cash, and Melaugh's student ID which was later recovered at a nearby bank, but her heart sank when she remembered her new hearing aids were also in her purse.
"They were programmed just for me and now I'm virtually unable to hear anything. I have to use my old hearing aid to get by now. It's so hard, especially at school."
Melaugh sketched a picture of the man just hours after the incident occurred, and has since distributed fliers to stores across the Westside hoping someone will recognize him, or find the little black box holding two pink hearing aids that she can't afford to replace.
"My hearing aids are very expensive, but they are of no value to anyone else. They're priceless to me and I need to get those returned."
Under warranty, a new pair will cost Melaugh more than $500. She's hoping to avoid that cost and the three months it would take to program them specifically to her needs. By the time she has them, her first semester of school will be over.
If you know anything about this crime, call JSO at 630-0500.