Anatomy of a Crisis - A Survivor's Story - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Anatomy of a Crisis - A Survivor's Story

By Joe Birch - bio | email | Follow us on Twitter

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC-TV) - Two years ago, a community was called to action, after a woman was brutally attacked inside her home near Chickasaw Gardens.

The victim, who has asked to not be identified,  lives on Goodwyn near the Memphis Country Club and Chickasaw Gardens, hardly the place a 40-something mother of two thought she'd come face to face with evil.

"It's been two years," she said in a recent interview. "It just seems like yesterday. You know, I still have night terrors. I wake up and think my husband is the assailant."

Elroy Cobbins, whose father worked for 30 years as a yardman on Goodwyn Street, and Marchello Hurst, were the assailants.  The men followed their victim home after she picked up her son at school.

Hurst was first through the door, high on crack, his face covered, toting a gun.

"When my child looked at me and said, 'Momma, please don't let them kill me,' the first thing I said was, 'I just want you to know mister, I'm not going to get down on the ground. I'm going to get you the money you need, and I'm going to let you know I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," the victim said.

As Hurst began the robbery, the victim, a trained flight attendant, relied on anti-terror survival techniques to protect herself and her son.  She told her assailants her son had a disease - that he was very sick - and then ordered him inside the bathroom.

"The door was open but he was back behind a curtain down a hallway," she said. "Yeah, crouched down. He was very brave and he did exactly what I said, which was good for him."

Then she actually coached the criminals to hide their faces.

"Your training teaches you, notice the guns, look at their faces, pretend like you don't. Take mental notes. It's just how we're trained," she said.

"Even though they were covered up, their black wraps would come off and we would see their face," she added. "To not be a liability, I told them a story. I said, 'I do not see your face. Cover your face and make sure it's covered.' So I think that helped."

She said prayer also helped.  She prayed out loud, and even prayed for the man robbing her.

After Hurst robbed her, Cobbins, also high on crack, launched a brutal beating and sexual assault.

"He beat me with his gun. In the face. Before the sexual assault," she said. "Then pummeled me and beat with his other hand on the other side of my face. I didn't look real good for a couple days."

She hurt bad enough she had to visit a plastic surgeon.

"I received about eight stitches - about 16 stitches," she said. "Eight on the top, eight on the bottom."

As the community learned of the brutal attack, they also learned of Hurst and Cobbins' prior convictions.  Both men were on probation when they assaulted the woman.

A group called "Citizens Against Crime" arose after the attack on Goodwyn street.  Angry Memphians jammed Memphis City Hall, demanding better policing and tougher laws.  Community activists took the case to Nashville, and were able to get tougher mandatory sentences for handgun crimes.

Now, two years after the attack that changed her life forever, this wife, mother, and survivor says it's time to take back our neighborhoods.

"We really do need to work on this crime situation," she said. "The Mayor needs to get his mind out of the clouds. I'm sorry, I'm just going to have to say this, and quit worrying about running for Congress - whatever his new aspirations are - we need to worry about this city. Right now.  The crime is still very bad."

Tomorrow night at 10, the victim describes her experience at the Memphis Rape Crisis Center - How it saved her from having to testify in court, and the outrage she feels over rape victims not getting the tests and treatment they need.

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