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Woman, 70, Fights Off Intruders With Pan

This story was originally broadcast Feb. 28, 2009

A feisty 70-year-old woman who fought off four home intruders by whacking one with a signature Emeril Lagasse saucepan was upset when police took it as evidence after apprehending the suspects.

But now, Ellen Basinski, of Elyria, outside Cleveland, has lots of replacement Lagasse cookware coming her way, courtesy of the chef himself, and The Early Show Saturday Edition.

The feisty Basinski was on the phone with her husband, a local judge, when the would-be robbers entered the house.

"I was angry," she says.

As one of them started rummaging through her purse, she grabbed her favorite trademark Lagasse saucepan and, as the famous chef himself likes to say, BAM!

"He told the police it almost knocked him out," Basinski says. "I gave it a good whack. I figured, 'You might get only one swing, lady, so make it good!'"

The four tried to defend themselves.

"It appears that one of the suspects picked up a Jack Daniels bottle and just threw it at her," says Elyria Police Lt. Andy Eichenlaub.

"The thrower said, 'I wanted to get out of there to stop her from beating up my friend," Basinski points out.

As all that was happening, her husband had his secretary call 911.

uickly arrived and, shortly afterwards, arrested an 18-year-old and three juveniles.

"Mrs. Basinski showed she is a tough lady," Eichenlaub observed.

Tough or not - she wanted to replace the saucepan and, when Lagasse heard about the incident, he decided to send her a set of his cookware.

And, after Early Show Saturday Edition co-anchor Chris Wragge interviewed Basinski, he told her the show is also sending some Lagasse items her way.

Basinski told Wragge she decided to take action "when the young man dumped out the contents of my purse, and was going through my stuff. Now, my purse is like Fibber McGee and Molly's closet. There was important stuff in there, and I thought, 'Wait a minute. I don't do this to you. I don't do it to anyone. And you shouldn't do it to me!'

"So, I turned around and picked up my pot. ... I took maybe ten steps to where he was leaning over the chair, rifling through this stuff, and I wound up and gave him a good crack. And he stood up and didn't say (anything), but looked at me like, 'Lady, why did you do that?'

"So I hit him again!"

"I was never afraid," added Basinski (left), "because I knew that the police were on the way, and I also knew that God takes care of little old ladies and foolish women, and I don't know what category I belong in!"

Basinski also told Wragge her husband is "very proud, but he said in talking to someone, 'She did everything I told her not to!' But, you have to understand that we had five sons, so young men do not intimidate me."

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