KANSAS CITY, Kan. — The nightmares come and go for 46-year-old Stephanie Perez, roughly six weeks after she was stabbed while walking home from volunteering at her local food pantry.
Perez, who lives with a condition that affects her muscle movements and speech, lives in the Argentine neighborhood in Kansas City, Kansas, with her mother and stepfather.
Every Tuesday, she would volunteer at her local food pantry and then walk the short distance home around noon.
However, on Tuesday, July 18, she was attacked from behind by a man police have since identified as 32-year-old John Eugence McGriff.
McGriff is also accused of killing his father the same day Perez was attacked; he’s charged with second-degree murder. Both of the incidents have been combined into one case in Wyandotte County District Court.
“I was walking home, and some guy came behind me,” Perez said Wednesday, the first time she’s spoken publicly about the ordeal.
“Then he was standing over me and kept on stabbing me,” Perez added. “I was thinking, ‘Oh my God. I’m not going to make it. I’m going to die.'”
McGriff was only charged with aggravated battery and mistreating a dependent adult in Perez’s case.
The scars to her neck and shoulder show the severity of the attack.
Perez still struggles to use her left hand, which she used to defend herself that awful day. That arm is bandaged up, with Perez saying she nearly lost her thumb during the attack. Even now she’s unable to straighten some of her fingers, which is why she will likely undergo two more surgeries.
“My guardian angel gave me the strength to fight and kick him and stuff like that,” she said, which she believes caused her attacker to get up and walk away. Something that still bothers her is how calmly her attacker walked away, almost like nothing had happened.
During Wednesday’s interview with Perez, she was surrounded by loved ones including her mother, Laura Villegas.
“I had seen all that blood on the ground, and it scared me. It was like a nightmare,” Villegas said.
Villegas saw Perez coming home that day and recalls seeing a man behind her with a knife. An affidavit said she yelled at her daughter to cross the street. Villegas quickly got dressed and ran outside, but by then her daughter was in an ambulance and was told she would have to go to the hospital to see her.
“I’m so glad that she’s alive because we could have lost her. We got a second chance with her,” she said.
Grateful to be alive, Perez said she is so happy for the love and support she’s received from her community. But now she’s left wondering why her? That’s something she hopes her accused attacker will answer one day.
In the meantime, she’s focused on the road ahead, which she hopes includes some face time with her favorite Kansas City Chiefs player.
“If I have a chance, I want to go to the Chiefs game and meet Travis Kelce,” she said with a smile, to which her mother replied, “Hopefully you come through Travis, for her. She deserves it.”