KaRishtha Johnson planned to go shopping for her wedding dress last weekend, but instead she spent most of the day in the hospital with 23 stab wounds.
Ms. Johnson, 28, of Lindale, said she is thankful to be alive after she was attacked in her home Feb. 6. Her fiance, 26-year-old Cedric Humble, of Tyler, is accused of stabbing Ms. Johnson in the bathroom of the home they shared on East Ferguson Street. Humble faces two counts of aggravated assault.
Their wedding was planned for June. Ms. Johnson said Humble had been nothing but loving leading to that night. She added there was no history of physical violence, but she had noticed small changes in their relationship.
Ms. Johnson said Humble would stop by her work and linger. She said he became more controlling as the eight-month relationship sailed toward marriage.
"I thought that maybe we just needed some distance, since we were together all the time, but it didn't happen," she said.
Ms. Johnson reflected about a bad feeling she had after seeing reports about a Jan. 15 murder-suicide of a couple in Chapel Hill. She didn't want to be "loved to death," she told him. Humble reassured her lovingly, she said.
That Friday night, Humble had been drinking, she said, which wasn't out of the ordinary.
She told him she and her son were going to the hospital to stay the night with her mother, who was recovering from multiple back surgeries. That wasn't unusual either, she said.
Humble wanted to go this time, but Ms. Johnson said she told him to stay because he had been drinking.
Ms. Johnson said she was on the phone with her mother as she readied in the bathroom.
"He said ‘I'm going to stab you,'" she said. "I thought he was being funny, because two minutes before that he was telling me how much he loved me."
Ms. Johnson said Humble came at her with a steak knife and rained down blows with his full force.
Ms. Johnson said Humble stabbed her in the chest, back, arms, legs and hands as she fought back while screaming for her 12-year-old son to help. She said she prayed — and expected to die.
But her son came to her aid and told him to "get off my mother," she said. Ms. Johnson said Humble raced after the 12-year-old, who ran out the front door and down the street for help.
Ms. Johnson picked herself off the blood-covered floor and raced out the nearby back door.
Ms. Johnson said last week she's recovering, mentally and physically. She said it's difficult because she loved Humble. She loved his 5-year-old daughter and her future in-laws.
"I broke down (Monday)," she said. "We were excited. We were just planning our wedding, and now he's in jail and I'm ..." Her words trailed off.
Humble turned himself in to the Tyler Police Department about 4 a.m. Saturday. According to the Smith County jail, Humble remained behind bars Friday on $51,500 bond.
Ms. Johnson said she doesn't feel safe. She's considering moving away.
She would like to know the reason for the attack, but said there is no chance of reconciliation.
"No. Not a chance. I wouldn't feel safe. I wouldn't feel safe for my son. I hope he gets help, because I wouldn't want him to do this to anyone else," she said.
The official police report indicates the assault occurred as a result of an argument, which Ms. Johnson refuted. Tyler Police Department Public Information Officer Don Martin said law enforcement doesn't consider what sparks domestic violence incidents, only the result.
Keisha Morris, Family Violence Program Coordinator for the East Texas Crisis Center, helps victims of domestic violence in five East Texas counties, including Smith County. The agency also helps victims of sexual assault and provides shelter, legal aid, relocation assistance and helps coordinate protective orders.
In her 11 years as a victim's advocate, Ms. Morris has seen a lot. She said people should follow their instincts if they feel a relationship is moving in an unsafe or unhealthy direction.
"Never dismiss your own instincts. Don't dismiss any red flags because they're usually there," she said.
Ms. Morris said victims often romanticize some red flags, such as possessiveness or the partner's willingness to hurt themselves, in the name of love.
"They perceive it as something else, but it can escalate quickly, and when it does, it gets scary," she said.
Ms. Morris suggested asking for a second, outside opinion about the person, from a trusted source or family member. She said a second look from a person who is not emotionally invested is important if red flags exist.
The number of women, children and men assisted by the East Texas Crisis Center continues to rise, she said. Ms. Morris doesn't know if it reflects an increased number of occurrences or if recent media coverage of domestic violence has raised awareness and led more victims to seek help.
District Attorney Matt Bingham said his office offers crime victims assistance to help people affected by violent crimes.
The state-funded assistance includes counseling and help with medical expenses. The office also provides counseling for child victims with the Child Advocacy Center.
Bingham said the aggravated assault charges against Humble carry the same two- to 20-year sentence as attempted murder but requires a lesser burden of proof for a conviction.