Both were stabbed repeatedly in a bloody scene outside Bally's Atlantic City casino hotel at the intersection of Pacific and Michigan Avenues that sources said was captured on surveillance video cameras.
The 47-year-old was thrown to the ground and repeatedly stabbed in her torso. The suspect, according to the charges, was attempting to take the pocketbook from the woman, stabbing her when she did not relinquish it.
It was then, according to the charges read by Donio, that the 80-year-old tried to intervene, and she was stabbed in her "lower body, hands and shoulders while she was coming to the assistance" of the first victim, who was referred to in court as Jane Doe pending notification of relatives.
Sources said surveillance video shows Pelzer running across the street to attack the women.
"She chased them down," said one source, speaking on condition of anonymity.
The victims were taken to AtlantiCare Regional Medical Center's City Campus, located across the street from where the attack occurred.
Pelzer, 44, originally of Philadelphia but apparently homeless in Atlantic City, had no representation at a hearing where the charges were read.
She shook her head at the notion that there was a robbery involved, and looked skeptical, furrowing her brows and staring quizzically at Atlantic County Prosecutor Ted Housel. She was dressed in orange prison garb and was shackled.
Pelzer had several addresses in Philadelphia in the past, and one listed a phone number that was for a mental health services clinic of Pennsylvania Hospital. Relatives have said she is mentally ill.
Donio agreed to a request by Housel to keep the charges sealed and the names of the victims out of the proceedings until next of kin are notified. The older victim was referred to in court as Sally Doe.
Donio read the charges, giving new details in the grisly attack, which occurred at 10:07 a.m. Monday a half-block from the medical center and was stopped by a patrolling police officer.
The attack comes in the midst of a multimillion dollar marketing campaign for Atlantic City. A Canadian broadcaster attended the hearing, which he said was attracting much notice in Canada, where the victims were from.
Pelzer questioned why she had no representation at the hearing.
"I'm trying to find out where's my public defense, my public, my . . .," she said, before laughing a little at her inability to come up with the right word for defender.
"Did you fill out a form?"
"I don't know, I don't know," she replied.
David Common, the New York correspondent for the Canadian Broadcasting Company attending the hearing said the killings had riveted the Asian community in Canada, whose members frequent both Atlantic City and Las Vegas. The victims were described as Asians from the Toronto area.
Common said their relatives may be in the United States. Housel said his office had been unable to contact them.
Commons said the details of the case - that the victims had been fatally stabbed so close to a hospital, with a police officer nearby who arrested the assailant, all in daylight in the thick of the tourism area - were being closely watched in Canada.
"The Asian community has a particular interest in Atlantic City. "The two women lie dying by a trauma sign. It's clear they didn't have much of a chance."
Contact Staff Writer Amy S. Rosenberg at 609-823-0453 and email@example.com and follow on twitter @amysrosenberg.