Pierce County sheriff’s deputies were still searching Friday for a man who assaulted and stabbed a Spanaway woman during a home-invasion robbery shortly before 10 a.m.
After the attacker left, the woman, bleeding from a stab wound and bound with duct tape, wriggled free of her bonds and sought help from her neighbor.
The neighbor, Vanessa Proctor, reacted in fright when she heard pounding at her door.
“I thought at first someone was trying to do a home invasion on me,” she said.
Through the door, Proctor heard the words, “Help me, please,” and realized it was her neighbor. Proctor, 37, knew the woman as a good cook who kept a tidy lawn, worked nights, and sometimes circled the block for exercise.
Friday morning was different. The woman was a mess. Duct tape tangled in her hair and wrapped around her neck. Blood covered her midsection. Proctor, alarmed, thought the woman had stabbed herself somehow – then she heard broken words, something about a delivery man who broke in and attacked her.
The attacker tricked the woman into answering the door by posing as a delivery driver, said sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer. The trick was easy because the woman actually received a delivery earlier – a box she’d been expecting, left on the front porch. According to Proctor (the neighbor), the woman didn’t notice the box in front because she and her husband, who works days, typically use the back door when they come and go.
“She said the guy was dressed in brown – it looked like a delivery uniform,” Troyer said. “This might have been somebody who took advantage of the box on the porch and pretended to be the delivery guy.”
The front entryway was “pretty torn apart,” Troyer said. The signs suggested a random attack; nothing about the house suggested extravagance or hidden wealth. Crime Stoppers of Tacoma/Pierce County is offering a reward for information that would capture the unknown assailant. The description so far is limited: a dark-skinned man, about 30, wearing what appears to be a delivery man’s uniform.
Following the attack, the man stole the woman’s car and abandoned it a few blocks away. Deputies recovered the vehicle, and took it in for forensic processing. Troyer guessed, but could not be sure, that the man used a separate car to drive to the area, and fled in that vehicle.
The woman was taken to St. Joseph’s Medical Center for treatment, Troyer said. Earlier, she was listed in critical condition, but by Friday evening, her status had improved. Deputies hope to speak with her and get a clearer account of the incident. The woman’s husband arrived home about 1 p.m., knowing nothing of the attack. Deputies escorted him to the hospital.
The woman’s home sits in 19600 block of 15th Avenue Court East. One road, 196th Street East, provides the only entry into a small honeycomb of cul-de-sacs. Well-tended lawns, swing sets and a small park define the neighborhood.
Proctor and her husband, Curtis, said the quiet area has no history of violent incidents. She’s lived there for 13 years. She and her husband recall a car prowl or two in the past; once their ATVs were stolen from the driveway.
“No people confrontations,” she said.
In the aftermath, Proctor marveled at her neighbor’s strength. Despite a stab wound, the 57-year-old was hopping mad, worrying about her car and belongings.
“She just seemed like she was so full of energy and everything – it was absolutely amazing,” Proctor said. “But right before the ambulance came you could see a kind of drain.”
Sean Robinson: 253-597-8486