Man tells story of attack, fire that nearly killed him

Clarence 'Skip' Kakert says he thought he was going to die

ROANOKE, Va. – A 70-year-old Roanoke man is telling the story of the frightening moments of an assault that he barely survived. A man beat him, stole money from him, tied him up and burned down his apartment early Tuesday morning.

Clarence “Skip” Kakert says he thought he was going to die.


Roanoke police are still investigating the incident at the Colonial Avenue apartment and still searching for a suspect, 20-year-old Omarr Romance-Lomax Martin.

Kakert says he’s still in pain. He has black eyes, cuts and bruises on his face and arms, 12 stitches on a cut on his head and a sprained knee.

"He beat me to within an inch of my life,” he said.

He says he didn’t know Martin well. He met him through a friend.

“He seemed fine,” Kakert said of Martin. “He said, 'Hey Skip. How you doing?' I said, 'I ain't seen you in a while. How you doing?'"

He says when Martin showed up to his apartment, he offered him some of the spaghetti he and his roommate were eating for dinner. After his roommate left, Martin attacked.

"He took a knife to my throat then he dragged me in the bathroom by my hair, took a towel and wrapped it around my throat, banging my head, 'Give me your money. Give me your money. Give me your money,'" Kakert said.

He’s a Vietnam War veteran. He thinks the attack gave him a sense for what prisoners of war go through.

"He had this big knife from the kitchen at my throat, then choking me with a towel in the bathroom. I thought I was gone then,” he said.

He says Martin beat him up for more than an hour, then tied his hands and legs, using the cord for Kakert’s oxygen machine.

"I acted like I was knocked out, and that's when he set the bed on fire,” he said.


Kakert says he moved slowly to the front door. He says he’s grateful that his neighbor, Chad Corby, heard his screams and helped him.

Tuesday, WSLS 10 told the story of Corby’s successful rescue attempt.

Kakert’s apartment is in shambles. He spoke to WSLS 10 in a hotel room, for which the Salvation Army is paying through the weekend. He says friends of his plan to start a GoFundMe page Saturday for him.