Vincent Norwood

SALEM — A Salem woman was so severely beaten early yesterday that police said they might upgrade the charges against her assailant to attempted murder.

Vincent Norwood, 35, of Dorchester was charged with first-degree assault, burglary and attempted first-degree assault after beating Jawanna Jones, 31, in her Lancelot Court apartment, police said.

Norwood was arrested early yesterday after police said he kicked in his ex-girlfriend's door and seriously beat her in front of her 3-year-old child.

"This was an absolutely serious assault that potentially could have turned fatal," police Capt. Shawn Patten said yesterday.

He said Jones suffered "very, very, very serious injuries" and detectives are processing the crime scene and interviewing the victim to gather additional evidence.

"We may have to upgrade the charges up to, and including, possibly attempted murder," Patten said.

Jones told police that Norwood had recently been released from prison.

Police arrived at the apartment at 5:11 a.m. after a neighbor reported hearing a woman screaming for about five minutes. The neighbor told police he thought someone might be beating his neighbor, Patten said.

Jones had been "severely beaten" when police arrived, Patten said. She was taken to Holy Family Hospital in Methuen, where she was in stable condition yesterday with numerous facial fractures, cuts, bruises, abrasions and other possibly broken bones, according to police.

Her child was released to the custody of a grandmother, police said.

Norwood had kicked the door "wide open" to get into the apartment, Patten said, and fled after the beating. But officers found and stopped his car on Route 28, near the state line. He was taken into custody without incident, police said.

Norwood, who Patten said has an "extensive criminal history" in New Hampshire and in Massachusetts, was arraigned yesterday and is being held on $100,000 cash bail.

Salem prosecutor Robert Prince said Norwood's history includes a 2001 stint in New Hampshire's State Prison for Men for a second-degree assault conviction. Norwood's other convictions in New Hampshire included driving while intoxicated and disobeying a police officer. In Massachusetts, his record includes three instances in which he served time in prison, Prince said, and a conviction of assault and battery on a police officer. Prince said Norwood also has a long record of motor vehicle violations.

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