by robert stewart
Advocate staff writer
November 02, 2012
A Brusly woman who works as a pastor in Brazil suffered serious injuries Friday after she was attacked in Rio de Janeiro on Friday by a fence post-wielding homeless man in a “wild, random act of violence,” the woman’s husband said Wednesday.
Renee Elliott Murdoch, 44, was taking a routine walk along the city’s Barra beach when she came close to a “deranged person there on the beach, beating one of the food kiosks with a fence post,” Philip Murdoch, 44, said in a phone interview from Brazil.
When the man saw Renee Murdoch approach, he began to walk toward her, Philip Murdoch said.
When the two crossed paths, the man struck her with the fence post and began beating her repeatedly, Philip Murdoch said.
Renee Murdoch was taken to a hospital with severe swelling in her brain. She was operated on twice for more than four hours and was induced into a coma, her husband said.
Local police took her attacker into custody, he said.
Philip Murdoch has been writing updates about his wife’s condition on the website for Light to the Nations, the Christian “church planting” organization that the Murdochs run as pastors. The organization operates or helps operate several churches across Brazil.
An update Tuesday said Renee Murdoch is responsive and has limited movement but is not fully aware of her surroundings.
She is still attached to a feeding tube but she can breathe on her own after initially being attached to a respirator, according to the website post.
Philip Murdoch said his wife was still in serious condition Wednesday but was neurologically stable.
He said she is still dealing with an infection, which she likely got during her initial surgery at a local charity hospital, and that doctors cannot pinpoint the location of the infection. She has since been moved to a private hospital, he said.
Philip Murdoch said the story has made top news on Brazil’s major TV stations several nights in a row because it happened in an ordinarily quiet, calm part of Rio de Janeiro.
“We’re missionaries, so we go into locations that are dangerous,” he said. “But this particular location is very safe, very nice, very upper class.”
Philip Murdoch, who was born in Rio de Janeiro, said he met his wife while both were studying at LSU in the late 1980s and early 1990s. They married in May 1994. The website says the couple has four children.
Murdoch said the family moved to Brazil 12 years ago to found Light to the Nations. He said they work with Bethany World Prayer Center, which they attended when they lived in Baton Rouge.
“She’s just a wonderful, fun-filled, happy person,” Philip Murdoch said of his wife. “She just loves the Lord and loves people.”
Buddy Elliott, Renee Murdoch’s brother, said he and his family are receiving updates about her condition daily, mostly through the church website.
Elliott said the family was first informed of the incident about noon Friday.
The Murdochs travel to Baton Rouge about once a year because of their connection to Bethany World Prayer Center.
Elliott described his sister as a “very long and caring person” who was called to be part of the ministry.
“She just has a passion for people that she knows are suffering,” he said.
Elliott said his family has received support from all walks of life.
“We’re so grateful for the outpouring of support and the prayers all over the world,” he said.
Murdoch said he wants to encourage people to keep praying for his wife.
“My heart is to encourage people to pray for Renee’s full recovery,” he said.