What kind of monster would savagely beat an elderly woman until her skull fractured and then leave her to die on a cold, hard basement floor?

Investigators from South Detectives are trying desperately to answer that question as they piece together a disturbing attack from earlier this month.

On the bright, chilly morning of Feb. 2, an 82-year-old woman walked from her South Philly rowhouse to the Beneficial Savings Bank on the corner of Broad Street and Snyder Avenue.

The woman cashed her Social Security check and then walked to a Rite Aid on the block. The elderly woman, hunched over and relying on a cane to walk, didn't realize she was being stalked, said Sgt. Brian Sprowal of South Detectives.

Sprowal said a twentysomething black man wearing a black knit cap, black jacket with white patches and black pants, followed her into the Rite Aid, where she made a brief purchase. He followed her back to her home on Iseminger Street near Snyder.

When the woman reached her front door, the silent stalker pounced on her. "He savagely beat her about the head and body, and then dragged her down to her basement," Sprowal said.

After rifling through her wallet - which only contained an I.D. card and spare change - the heartless brute issued a chilling warning to his bloodied victim: "He said, 'If you try to get up, I'll finish you off,' " Sprowal said.

A neighbor found the elderly woman, whose name was not released. She was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with face and head fractures, bruised ribs and a host of other injuries. After several surgeries, she's in stable condition, Sprowal said.

Sprowal said police dusted pill bottles that the suspect touched inside Rite Aid for fingerprints, but they have yet to track him down.

"It seems like an isolated incident," Sprowal said. "But I'm disturbed that he had the confidence to just go into her home like that."

Tipsters can contact detectives at 215-686-3013 or -3014. *