WILLOUGHBY HILLS, Ohio - A local woman barely lived after a horrific attack and now she is sharing her survival story with the FOX 8 I-Team, hoping to keep her attacker behind bars and to encourage other domestic violence survivors to speak up and get help.
“Burns to my back, my arms, my head, and my eye , and I have stab wounds; I was stabbed six times and cut,” Vaneejsha Reese says, as a few tears stream down her face.
On July 21 she and her sister were held at gunpoint, stabbed, tied up and set on fire in front of her three young children inside an apartment in Willoughby Hills.
“I was scared for my sister, my kids. I heard my son say, 'oh no, fire,' and I played dead once he started stabbing me,” Reese said.
When the suspect, Allen Crawford, the father of her children, thought she was dead he took the kids and left. Her sister managed to free herself and call for help.
Crawford was arrested and remains behind bars on a charge of attempted murder. He has entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity. His case is still pending in Lake County Common Pleas Court.
“I just thought I was going to die,” Reese said. “The way that gun was pushed in the back of my head as angry -- as he was.”
She had 10 surgeries and spent 8 weeks in the hospital. Her sister is also still recovering.
She said she tried to get away from Crawford before but he wouldn’t let her go. She said she is now hoping to encourage others in similar situations to speak up and get help.
“He was still trying to take control of my life like the shackles were still on,” Reese said. “The message is when you see the first signs the red flags in the very beginning it don't matter how much money they got, what they look like; it is time to get up and go because you deserve better.”
She said the love for her children and the support from her family and friends gave her the strength to fight through the pain.
“My babies -- if it wasn't for them I probably wouldn't have pushed as hard as I was supposed to," Reese said.
And she is now looking forward to her future.
“It is tough some days and I have more surgeries,” Reese said. “But when I look at the pictures from when it first happened I know I came along way.”
A GoFundMe has been set up to help her with her medical bills.
Also anyone proposing further solutions to these tragic events, please write or email:
David B. Malik
Attorney at Law
Chester Office Park
8437 Mayfield Road, Suite 101
Chesterland, Ohio 44026
Or email at