EUGENE, Ore. (AP) — He manipulated her, he controlled her. And in the end, he tried to kill her.
That’s what Adrienne Wurts told a Lane County grand jury weighing charges last week against David Dario Lucius, the former boyfriend accused of stabbing her more than a dozen times outside the Walton Post Office late last month.
Lucius, 56, is charged with attempted murder, first-degree assault and strangulation. Additional or lesser charges will be up to the grand jury to decide.
But Wurts said she’s speaking out now because she wants to help others, and she regrets not leaving Lucius sooner, The Register-Guard reported .
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“Maybe I can help someone not be so dumb and walk away before it’s too late,” Wurts said, sobbing.
October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month.
It’s also the month Wurts found her strength to speak out, thankful she’s still alive despite physical and emotional scars and temporary homelessness.
Not all domestic violence victims escape with their lives.
According to the Eugene-based nonprofit domestic violence organization Womenspace and the U.S. Centers for disease Control, domestic violence in intimate partner relationships results in about 1,200 deaths and 2 million injuries each year among women in the United States.
Womenspace also reports on its website that the number of households reporting intimate partner violence has more than doubled in Lane County in the last two years.
But there is a difference between reporting violence to Womenspace and filing a report with law enforcement. According to Lane County District Attorney Patty Perlow, the number of domestic violence referrals to her office annually has remained steady for some time, with between 900 and 1,000 cases each year since 2014. Only 68 percent of those reports result in charges being filed, she said.
To date, 544 domestic violence cases referred to the DA’s office have been filed in Lane County Circuit Court this year. Last year, 680 were filed, the most in the past four years, with 630 filed in 2016, 587 in 2015, and 651 in 2014.
So far this year, Springfield police said they have made 146 arrests under the Family Abuse Prevention Act, a law enacted in the 1990s that requires an arrest if injuries are observed on a domestic violence call. Last year, they made 165 such arrests compared with 166 the previous year.
“The idea behind the law is that you separate the two and you must arrest the person who caused the injuries,” said Springfield police Lt. Scott McKee, who remembers policing before FAPA. “We would go to the scene of domestic violence and the person with injuries would make up a story not wanting to upset the other person further, not wanting to press charges, so we would leave. And then the injured person would end up getting injured further. So the idea is that the law takes the discretion out of it and it’s a mandatory arrest.”
In Eugene, police have made 274 FAPA arrests so far this year, compared with 353 in 2017 and 352 in 2016. Eugene’s statistics are broken down by age and gender and show 74 men ages 20 to 29 and 62 men ages 30 to 39 arrested for domestic violence this year, as well as 29 women ages 20 to 29 and 21 women ages 30 to 39.
In Eugene, there were three female and five male victims under age 10, police said. The largest group of victims were in the 20 to 29 age range, and included 151 women and 49 males. Among 30- to 39-year-olds, there were 117 female and 54 male victims.
“Victims in areas like Walton, Florence and rural communities are pretty isolated, and it’s very difficult for them and extremely dangerous when they’re trying to flee,” Womenspace CEO Julie Weismann said. “If you are in a rural community, call the crisis line, and we will respond to you. We have advocates in rural communities of Lane County who are pretty skilled at assisting in safety planning.
“It becomes the most dangerous when a victim is considering leaving,” Weismann added. “We walk them through where they are in that moment and safety plan accordingly.”
“What I know about domestic violence is that the most critical point in the relationship is when the victim makes the choice to leave. That’s the most dangerous point in time,” he said. “It’s really important to have a plan. Make a plan with someone, a confidante. Because statistically, as soon as the abuser finds out you are leaving, that can really put a person into a rage. And 20 stab wounds is an emotional attack on somebody.”
Wurts said she and Lucius met in 2015. Both worked at the Florence Dairy Queen, and they began dating. Then in 2017, they moved to Sacramento.
The couple leased an apartment, but things soon turned sour. The couple broke up, Wurts said, but they agreed to continue sharing the apartment until the lease expired in December to avoid ruining their renters’ history.
But that arrangement did not last long, Wurts said.
“He was making my life a living hell,” she said. “I told him, basically, ‘I don’t like you, we’re not friends. I can be amicable, I can be civil, but I don’t need to talk to you anymore. I don’t need to be harassed by you anymore.’ Looking back on all of it, I didn’t see it as abuse at the time, the things he was doing. I thought we could go our separate ways.”
Now, she said, she can see she was wrong.
Their living situation became increasingly tense, but after she spent Labor Day Weekend on a trip with her sister, she returned to find a different Lucius waiting for her.
“He was being really, really nice. I was like, ‘Why are you being so nice?’ Something was up,” she said.
He asked her for another chance but when she refused, Wurts claims, he allegedly sexually assaulted her. She reported that to police, which upset Lucius and made her afraid.
So she packed up and left in mid-September, returning to Florence with just a few belongings. Little did she know that Lucius followed her.
Within days of Wurts’ arrival, Lane County Circuit Court records show, Lucius was arrested on suspicion of driving under the influence of intoxicants — twice. After his first Lane County arrest on Sept. 15, Lucius’ driver’s license was seized. Then, hours after his release from the Lane County Jail, he crashed a vehicle on Highway 126 near Veneta and was arrested again on suspicion of DUII.
Then on Sept. 27, three days before the alleged stabbing, Chris Garrett of Harvest Moon Cannibis said he saw Wurts enter his Florence store around 7:30 p.m., followed by the man he said he now knows as Lucius.
His surveillance cameras captured an encounter between the former couple, which he provided to police after the stabbing.
“He pulls up 10 minutes before her and waits for her in the parking lot,” Garrett said of the video. “She pulled up, opened his passenger door, says something in through the door, but didn’t get in. It lasts for like 45 seconds maybe, and then she goes into the store. That’s when he gets out of his car, actually out of the passenger side door. He crawled over. And goes to her driver’s side back tire. He lunges down at it, and is looking up for cameras, and then does all of that two more times.”
Garrett said Wurts later told him that when she returned to her car, she heard a loud hissing sound as air escaped from her tire.
“She said he asked her, ‘Can I give you a ride?’ and the hair on the back of her neck stood up,” Garrett said.
She declined, then drove as fast as she could to an auto parts store, Garrett said.
Wurts, who only told police about that incident after the stabbing attack, said police were examining the tire to see if the slashes match the weapon used against her.
Wurts, who was staying at her aunt’s house, said she had been getting messages from Lucius about having some of her things, like her car title and registration. He asked her to meet with him, and each time she refused.
On Sept. 30, he offered to come to her aunt’s house to give the items to her. “I didn’t want him near her,” Wurts said of her aunt. “I just wanted to get this over with.” So she agreed to meet Lucius in a public place. She asked him to meet her at the Walton Store and Restaurant, off Highway 101. The problem was it was Sunday, and the store and restaurant closed early.
“He said he was going to be a little bit late, and between the time he said he would meet me and the time he got there, the store had closed,” she said.
When Lucius arrived, Wurts said, she opened his passenger door and half-sat down, with one leg still out of the car. He handed her her registration but when she asked for the title, he said he didn’t have it. He then started to cry, claiming his mother was dying and he was going to go to jail because of the sexual assault allegation she had made against him in California.
Through his tears, Lucius asked her for a goodbye hug, Wurts said. She refused and went to leave, but he pulled her in for what felt like a strong, genuine hug.
Then, she said, he put a knife to her throat.
Next Lucius allegedly told her to close the door or he would slash her throat.
“I reached up and put my hands near the knife, and I just started to pray, so that if something happens to me, I could go to heaven,” she said through tears. “He told me to close the door again, or he would slash my throat. And I just told him I was going to die anyway, so I grabbed at the knife.”
In a wave of frenzied chaos, Wurts said she was stabbed in her chest near her heart, in the neck and three times more in the chest before she was fully out of the car. She tried to get away, but he grabbed her by her shirt and bra, and pulled it off and around her arms, using the clothing as a restraint and leaving her naked from the waist up, she said.
He alternated strangling and stabbing her, including several times in the back and under the armpits, she said.
“On the last stab wound I remember, the knife was under my chin and my hands were holding the blade that was embedded in both of my thumbs to keep it from being slammed into my mouth,” she said through tears. “That’s when a guy came running from behind the restaurant and got him off of me. He tried to stop (Lucius) from getting away, but when he drove off, the man stuck one finger in my throat where I had a hole and one finger in my chest. He told me I was a fighter and to keep fighting. And I laid there for so long with people helping me and praying over me, and I made it until the fire department got there. I was life-flighted to the hospital.
“My life was saved. By some complete strangers, one especially who chose to run at somebody who had a knife in his hands,” she continued. “I have a couple of lucky angels.”
In all, Wurts said she had 12 stab wounds, six defensive wounds including large slices to both of her hands between her thumb and index finger, and two unexplained puncture wounds. She had three surgeons operating on her as soon as she arrived at the hospital. She was released four days later.
Meanwhile, Lucius was captured 31 miles from the California border on Sept. 30, according to a search warrant affidavit filed in Lane County Circuit Court last week. Police were able to track him via his cellphone and eventually stopped his Chrysler PT Cruiser Spike using spike strips.
Lucius had blood on his shoe and sock, the affidavit states. A blood-stained towel, Lucius’ passport and bloodstained keys to the vehicle were seized. In a bag inside the car, Lucius also had “domestic violence paperwork” that he had brought with him to Oregon, the warrant states.
Wurts may be out of the hospital, but she’s not fully healed, especially not emotionally.
“My life is a mess,” she said. “I can’t stop seeing him in my head with the knife every second of every day. My hands are worthless. I can’t even write my own name. I can’t tie my own shoes, I can’t get my shirt on. I am in a lot of pain.
“I have no money, no job. I became homeless to get away from this man. And now I am really, really stuck this way,” Wurts said. “I don’t know how long this is going to last. And I don’t know how I will ever get better. My life is really messed up right now.”
She has another surgery for her hands scheduled this week and is unable to work because of her injuries, she said. Her living situation with a family member fell through, and she had been camping until the Lane County District Attorney’s Office helped her get a hotel room and connected her to resources available to victims of domestic violence. Nearly one-fifth of Oregon’s homeless women lost their homes due to domestic violence, according to Womenspace.
In the meantime, a Go Fund Me account has helped her get by and find a residence. She said she hopes to buy a camping trailer.
“I am really, really scared. And it’s really, really hard,” Wurts said. “I didn’t fight this hard to end up like this.”
Information from: The Register-Guard, http://www.registerguard.com