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Police seek motive in attack on TV anchorwoman

The day after Anne Pressly, a popular TV anchor in Little Rock, Ark., was put in critical condition by a brutal beating in her home, police and loved ones are asking why.  "If there’s one person that does not have an enemy, it is Anne," a friend said.
/ Source: TODAY staff and wire

Popular and beautiful Anne Pressly, an up-and-coming Little Rock, Ark., news anchor, had dinner with a friend, talked about her small role in the movie “W.” and went home, where she exchanged cheery text messages. And then she was beaten nearly to death.

While the 26-year-old Pressly remains in critical but stable condition in a Little Rock hospital, her family, many friends and police are all trying to discover who would have attacked a person who is said to have had no enemies, and why.

“If there’s one person that does not have an enemy, it is Anne Pressly,” Mallory Hardin told TODAY’s Matt Lauer from Little Rock Tuesday, a day after the attack. “She’s wonderful to everybody. She’s the most loving girl that anyone could ever meet; [she] is so kind to every stranger. She goes out of her way to help other people.”

Random break-in?Hardin is a reporter for NBC affiliate KARK in Little Rock and a close friend of Pressly’s, who recently became the morning news anchor at ABC’s Little Rock affiliate, KATV.

Little Rock Police spokeswoman Cassandra Davis, who also talked via satellite with Lauer, said that police are looking into whether Pressly may have been attacked because of her celebrity. They are also considering the possibility that she was a victim of a random break-in. Pressly’s purse and some personal belongings were missing from her home, Davis said, although there was no sign of forced entry into her home.

The attack occurred sometime between 10:30 Sunday night, after Pressly exchanged text messages with her friend, Hardin, and 4:30 Monday morning, when her mother, Patricia Cannady, discovered her bloody and unconscious in her bed. Cannady was in the habit of giving her daughter a wake-up call every morning before Pressly went to work at KATV’s “Daybreak” show. When Pressly didn’t answer her phone, her mother went to her house.

Because of all the blood, police initially thought Pressly had been stabbed, but KATV, citing police sources, reported that she had suffered blunt trauma injuries to her head and body.

“This is surreal that this could happen to her,” Hardin told Lauer.

‘A shock to everybody’Hardin said that she had seen her friend Sunday evening.

“We had a great dinner. She was happy, bubbly as always, everything was wonderful,” Hardin recalled. “After we went to dinner, I went with some people to see her movie, ‘W.,’ to see her role, and she wanted me to text her and let her know how she did. And of course, she did incredible. And I texted her to let her know.

“She texted back about 9:30 that she was so happy we thought she did good … a bubbly, wonderful text like she always sent.”

Although Davis said that police are investigating the possibility that Pressly was attacked by a stalker, Hardin said her friend never talked about any unwelcome attention from fans or viewers.

“She’s never said anything to me about any type of stalker,” Hardin said. “This is just a shock to everybody.”

“We do not have any police reports in our department in reference to any stalking,” Davis added. “We are talking to co-workers and family and friends and trying to determine if there was anybody that had an unusual interest in Miss Pressly.”

‘So much sorrow’
After talking to Lauer, Davis expanded on her statement to local reporters, saying, “[It] is possible that it is something other than robbery. Our detectives are talking with co-workers because she was a public figure, because she was on the news, in the media.”

In a message posted on the KATV Web site, Dale Nicholson, the station’s president and general manager, said that Pressly “is a person who simply lights up the room, by just walking in … I know her viewers will join her family as well as the KATV family in praying for a speedy recovery for Anne, who means so much to all of our staff.”

Hardin, who fought to keep her emotions in check during the interview, talked with Lauer about trying to cope with what happened to her friend.

“It’s so hard for everybody right now; so hard for her family, so hard for her friends,” Hardin said. “She’s touched so many in this community, so we’ve all been grieving. Doctors have hope at this point, but they say at this point she’s still in critical condition and it’s going to be a very long road to recovery. There’s so much grieving, so much sorrow in this town for a girl who is so loved.”

— Mike Celizic, with reporting from the Associated Press.