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Family: “He’s not a monster.”

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Posted at 12:34 AM, Apr 12, 2012
and last updated 2012-04-12 00:37:32-04

The family of a Suffolk man accused of nearly beating an elderly woman to death says he's not a monster.

William Keith Ruffin, as many have come to know him over the last week, is described as a mentally disturbed man charged with nearly beating 94-year-old Violet Compton to death.

But when his grandmother looks in his eyes, she sees something different.

“He's a good, loving child,” says Sarah Windborne, Ruffin’s grandmother.

She says she sees who Ruffin really is deep down.

“Kind, loving— you wouldn’t want to meet a better person,” says Windborne.

Windborne says she couldn't have predicted her grandson would do something like this when he was growing up.

“He was smart, real smart, still smart,” says Windborne.

He was accepted into Florida A&M's engineering program.

He didn't finish, but the Navy took him on in their nuclear engineering program.

But after he was kicked out for cocaine use, Windborne says Ruffin's mental health declined.

“I don’t know what happened to him,” says Windborne.

Court documents say doctors diagnosed Ruffin with schizoaffective disorder in 1999.

He'd later do time for spitting in an officer's face in 2005 and stealing money from a church in 2006.

“You just didn’t know when he would go off,” says Windborne.

She says things seemed to be looking up for Ruffin when he became a resident at Oakwood Assisted Living Facility. That was until she learned cops arrested the 42-year-old for allegedly assaulting his 94-year-old neighbor.

The victim's son spoke only to NewsChannel 3.

“She'd been pummeled and it was not just a hit, it looked like someone repeatedly had hit her,” says Nat, the victim’s son.

Oakwood's owner says a psychiatrist changed Ruffin's mental health meds days before the attack.

But officials with the Western Tidewater Community Services Board say abrupt changes in someone's behavior after a medication change aren't likely to happen that soon.

But violent changes can be induced by alcohol or drug abuse.

“He was a good person and he just snapped and for what reason I don’t know,” says Windborne.

As Ruffin awaits his fate in jail, his grandmother hopes he hears this message:

“We still love him, in spite of,” she says

Compton’s condition has been upgraded from critical to fair.

Ruffin's next court date is set for May 21st.