Elderly Virginia Man Dies After Receiving Severe Beating by His 28-Year-Old Girlfriend

The following was reported by WSLS10

The death of a Bedford County man nearly four months after a beating at his home hospitalized him has prosecutors pondering more serious charges against his live-in girlfriend. Deputies called to 1629 Rock Haven Road in Goode on May 4 reported finding 77-year-old William Herchenrider covered in blood on the bedroom floor. His cane and 28-year-old Kristina Pongracz, who was passed out, were also on the floor, authorities said. Pongracz was charged with aggravated malicious wounding.

Bedford County Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Stephanie Ayers said that after being “nearly continuously” hospitalized, Herchenrider died at his home last Thursday or Friday.

“I believe this was the first time home (since the beating),” Ayers said, noting he died within 24 hours of being taken home. “He has been in a number of facilities in Virginia and North Carolina, acute-care facilities, for a number of issues that arose after the injuries he suffered." In a June bond hearing Ayers said the beating left Herchenrider with large wounds, broken ribs and a punctured lung. Until the May dispute, the two lived together.

Ayers requested an autopsy. Herchenrider had some medical issues at the time of the attack, she said, but was active and regularly traveled. At a late June bond hearing, Ayers told Judge James Updike that before the beating, Herchenrider told Pongracz he didn’t want her living in the house. She came back later that day, the prosecutor said, and started hitting the man with his cane. At one point, the prosecutor said, he told her that if she didn’t stop, she would kill him. A witness in the house tried to pull her off of him, but was unable, she said. Herchenrider had to be taken to Roanoke Memorial Hospital by helicopter. Ayers said then that Pongracz told investigators she had been drinking and was angry.

A decision was made shortly after she was arrested to go forward with the case, assuming Herchenrider would be unable to testify in light of his age and his medical condition, Ayers said. Updike denied Pongracz bond on June 29, citing a record of drug possession, probation violations and petit larceny in California, and driving under the influence and brandishing a firearm in Virginia. She remains jailed at the Bedford Adult Detention Center pending a preliminary hearing on her current charge on Oct. 5. For more, read the story.


Robert W. Carter, Jr. is a Virginia attorney whose law practice is dedicated to protecting the rights of the victims of nursing home and assisted living neglect and abuse in Richmond, Roanoke, Norfolk, Lynchburg, Danville, Charlottesville, and across Virginia.

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