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Sleeping girl brutally attacked with a knife — and lives to tell about it

Photo of LBJ Hospital sign

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — A high school sophomore was brutally attacked as she slept in her home during the early hours of Sunday morning. Samoa News understands that her suspected attacker, a 16-year-old male, has been taken into custody at the Juvenile Detention Center.

The victim's mother is thankful that her daughter is pulling through; but she is on a mission to raise awareness and alert parents on the dangers that lurk — closer than one may think. "This was not a random act," said the mother. "This boy knew my daughter and he was there to kill her."

Samoa News spoke to the girl's mother yesterday morning and this was her recollection of the events that led to her 15-year-old being hospitalized for nearly a week, fighting for her life.

At around 2a.m., Sunday morning, according to the mother, she was awakened by the sounds of "gasping" coming from her daughter's room, only six feet away from where she slept.

"My daughter was supposed to spend the night at my mother's house that evening but she fell asleep," the mother shared. The girl awoke to a shirtless male lying on top of her. "He first punched her in the mouth and then attempted to cover her mouth with his hand so she wouldn't scream."

Fortunately, the victim is a fighter. She managed to fight her attacker off but she didn't know he came armed with a knife.

"Once he realized how strong she was, he got off and ran out the back door, the same way he came in," said the mother. It was when the girl stood up from the bed that she said she felt a 'splash'.

"It was blood, dripping from under her chin," the mother continued.

"I could hear her gasping, trying to scream. I got up and stood in the hallway, and saw the blood. At first I thought she scratched herself but then I realized that her shirt was drenched in blood. It was coming from under her chin area."

"This guy is bold, fearless. And that's what makes it scary. He has no conscious. We know this because he broke into our house through the back door, and placed a brick next to the screen door to keep it ajar for his getaway. I slept facing the doorway. My bedroom door was open. My daughter also slept with her bedroom door open. That didn't stop this guy. He came here with the intention of killing her — and he almost did."

According to the mother, the victim awoke to a man lying on top of her. Luckily, the girl is an athlete and was able to put up a fight that ultimately saved her life.

"I don't know if he was planning on raping her because my daughter says he didn't touch her in a sexual manner. He only punched her in the mouth and then stabbed her," said the mother.

The girl could not identify her attacker. All she said was she saw a silhouette, and the man was small in stature. She is actually taller than him.

Things were beginning to look bad. The incident occurred in a far out village about an hour drive to the hospital, the victim was hyperventilating and bleeding, and the suspected attacker was on the loose.

The mother said she was doing what she could to calm her daughter, call for help, and find the man responsible. But, she too, was shaken.

Everything that occurred after, seemed to have worked in their favor.

Paramedics arrived in less than 6 minutes. They just happened to be in the area at the time. And the man — well, he was identified later that morning after he broke into a store across the street. Apparently, the store surveillance camera captured images of him in the store, still holding the knife, he allegedly used in the attack.

The mother told Samoa News that police responded to the call that morning, and she was told that the suspect had fled to Taputimu. He later went to Faleniu and was finally apprehended in the town area. This, according to her, is what she was told by law enforcement officials.

"We've been told that the guy is being held at the Juvenile Detention Center," she said.

The girl, meanwhile, upon arriving at the LBJ Emergency Room that morning, had to undergo a 4-hour emergency surgical procedure before she was transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).

"She's recovering well but she doesn't want to go back to our village," said the mom.

The girl is expected to be released today or tomorrow.

She suffered a stab wound in the chest area, and a deep 3-inch laceration under the chin, above her throat that required stitches. According to doctors, the attacker severed the jugular vein in the neck area, that leads to the girl's brain. The knife also hit the neck bone and severed some muscles on the back of her neck. The physician told the mother that had the knife severed the artery, her daughter would have bled to death.

One of the biggest concerns for the mother is this: her older daughter, who spent the night at her grandma's house nearby, awoke the same morning of the attack, to her window being covered with a sheet. The mother suspects that her older daughter was the initial target but footsteps near the home caused the man to flee and end up in the younger sister's room.

"Why my daughters?" the mother asked. "This is just a kid who usually comes around the village to play volleyball. I've seen things like this on TV and I always thought that the country side was safe but I guess I was wrong. This is unreal to me. I cannot believe this has happened in my home, in my village."

The mother claims that the attacker comes from a broken home, "but that's no excuse for  his actions."

"I cannot imagine the heartache this girl's mother is feeling," said a mother who spoke to Samoa News about the incident. "This is a wake up call for all parents. Please make sure your kids are safe. We may think our homes are a safe haven for them but this incident proves that there are bad people who will disrupt people's lives, at any expense. This is the sad reality that exists in American Samoa today. Kids will no longer feel safe in their own homes and that is just not right."