WOODSTOCK – A Shenandoah County woman suffered 23 stab wounds and other injuries as she protected her children from a knife-wielding man during 2017 attack in Edinburg.
The woman provided details of the incident during a hearing Friday in Shenandoah County Circuit Court.
Samual Jacob Homer, 20, of Edinburg, appeared in the court via video from Rappahannock-Shenandoah-Warren Regional Jail. Homer stands charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and three counts of malicious wounding related to the May 18, 2017, incident and five counts of possession of child pornography that authorities say occurred a month earlier.
Commonwealth’s Attorney Amanda Wiseley called the woman who was attacked, Whitney Rice, to testify. Homer’s attorney Peter McDermott and the defendant’s court-appointed guardian Michael Araj did not object to Wiseley calling the witness as long as the prosecutor did not plan to use the testimony should Homer’s competency to stand trial be restored. McDermott said he had no intention to cross-examine the witness at the hearing but wanted to preserve the right to do so in the future.
Judge Clark A. Ritchie allowed Wiseley to call the witness and acknowledged this was a hearing and not a trial. The judge had the video equipment muted and turned so the defendant could not see or hear the testimony.
Rice testified that on May 18, 2017, she took her five children to the Edinburg park behind Town Hall. Homer arrived on his bicycle a short time later, she testified. Rice said she lived in Edinburg at the time and had seen Homer in the area but didn’t know him by name.
“He approached me and was warning me about snakes that he had seen in a nearby field to make sure my children stayed away from them, and then he asked me if it would be all right to play with my children, and I said yeah, that’s fine,” Rice said.
Her two older children knew Homer by name because he helped out in the cafeteria at their school, Rice said. They played together for about 15 minutes before she told her children they needed to leave because it was getting late, she said. Homer left at that point, she recalled. Rice said she saw him come back into the fenced-in area at the park about five minutes later.
“Two of my children were in the baby swing, and I was pushing them, and I heard my oldest daughter scream ... and I just assumed she fell, hit her head, something,” Rice said. “I didn’t really think much of it until she ... came out and she was covered in blood, and so at that point, I just thought maybe an accident, something happened and then she screamed ‘he did it, he did it.’”
Rice said she then saw Homer holding a knife in his hand while close to her daughter.
“He stood there for a minute, and I think I just kind of panicked and my daughter came toward me ... and Mr. Homer came over with her ... and I was like ‘it’s OK, it’s fine, you can leave, I won’t tell anyone,’” Rice recalled.
Rice testified that Homer stabbed her when she came between him and her daughter.
“I was trying to get him off me to fight back with him, so he was just kind of aimless swinging the knife, pretty much hit me all over, and I fought back with him a lot,” Rice testified. “There were even times when I was punched and kicked repeatedly because I was fighting him so hard. At one point, I even ripped a bunch of his shirt trying to get him to the ground, just anything to make him stop.”
Rice said she guessed the physical altercation lasted 15-20 minutes. Her daughter who was stabbed had run to their van, which was locked, so she hid in some nearby bushes, Rice recalled. She said her stepson stayed close and repeatedly told Homer to “stop hurting my mom.” The two youngest children stayed in the baby swing, she added.
Wiseley asked Rice how the altercation eventually ended. Rice said she picked up her 1½-year-old and Homer attacked.
“At that point, I just let my guard down and he came from behind and stabbed me multiple times in the back and in the side right here to the point where – I knew it was bad, and I later found out that during that time he actually cut my 1½-year-old on the head above the right ear,” Rice recalled.
Homer stuck the knife in the ground and walked to a water fountain where he washed his hands and clean up, Rice said.
“When I’d seen the knife in the ground, I thought ‘if I’m not gonna make it, I can at least do something with this knife so that if I’m gone, he can’t hurt my kids,’” Rice testified.
Rice recalled watching Homer while she took the knife, stuck it under her shirt and then put the weapon in a trashcan. At one point, Rice recalled, Homer kept asking her where the knife was. Homer appeared angry, she said.
Rice said she eventually sat down against a fence and later heard sirens. At that point, Rice recalled that Homer started to straighten himself up and sat down beside her, making it look like he was helping her.
“He went so far as to tell the officer that the individual who did this to me actually ran, said ‘he went that way, the guy that did went into the woods,’” she recalled.
Rice said she and her children quickly told officers that Homer did it.
Wiseley asked Rice to comment on injuries that she and the children sustained. The first child injured suffered two stab wounds to her neck, one less than an inch from her carotid artery, and two, deep defensive wounds on her right hand, Rice said. All injuries required stitches, she noted.
Rice testified that she sustained 23 stab wounds to her head, face, an arm and thighs. She suffered a collapsed lung as a result of a stab wound to the side of her torso. Rice added that she had multiple stab wounds to her back and a leg. Emergency responders took Rice by helicopter to Winchester Medical Center. During transport, Rice said her blood pressure fell to the point that responders had to stick a tube in her chest to relieve the pressure as a result of the collapsed lung.
Rice said she spent three to four days in the intensive care unit followed by two days in another room. Rice said she received eight units of blood during her treatment. The stabbing severed tendons in two of her fingers, requiring surgery. She also suffered a severe injury to her left shoulder, limiting the use of her arm. Then she went through months of physical therapy.