A thief tried to choke a 69-year-old nun who attempted to stop her from stealing a teacher's purse at a Catholic school, authorities said.

Sister Marie Shields attempted to hold the thief, who then tried to choke the nun, breaking a cross on her necklace, police spokeswoman Amanda Ford said. The woman fled, and Sister Shields was shaken up, though not hurt.

Detectives following leads in the case charged Emmie Jo Lowery, 35, of Columbus, with one count of robbery on Saturday. She remained at large Friday morning, Ford said.

The woman entered St. Matthias School around 9 a.m. Nov. 21 while teachers and students were in a morning Mass and asked Sister Shields if she could use the phone, Detective Kim Atwood said. The nun told detectives she later saw the woman taking a purse belonging to a teacher out of an unlocked classroom and tried to stop her.

"It's sad that it happened in a Catholic school," Sister Shields said Thursday. "We were trying to be kind."