It was a scene she would never forget – the sight of her spiritual mother lying in a pool of blood on the basement floor – and then seeing the killer come at her with the same knife, stabbing her over and over until she managed to escape. For years she lived with the physical, mental and emotional wounds of that tragic day until one act of forgiveness finally set her free.
The Daily Mail is reporting on the riveting story of Lynette Grace, now 56 years old, who was only 31 at the time of the attack. Working as a customer service assistant at a newspaper in Atlanta, Georgia, she had returned to her hometown of Toledo, Ohio after her mother died of a heart attack. During the visit, she stopped in to see an old friend from church named Eddie.
“She was like a mother to me,” Lynette recalled. “I called her my spiritual mother because we were so close.”
Remembering that summer day in August, 1991, she continued: “We were in her kitchen eating her famous red velvet cake and chatting about cute guys, who were husband material, when I went upstairs for a sleep.”
At 6:00 a.m. the following morning, she was awakened by the sound of Eddie screaming, “No, Johnny!”
She went downstairs and asked Eddie’s son, Johnny, who was 16 at the time, if his mother had had a bad dream. He said yes.
Going down into the basement bedroom of her friend, that’s where she beheld a sight that will haunt her forever.
“Eddie was there, lying in a pool of blood,” she remembered. “I turned to Johnny and he stabbed me five times, in the face and body.”
During the attack, she heard a voice – whom she believes was God – telling her exactly what to do. Somehow, she managed to get away and ran down the street, frantically banging on neighbors’ doors.
“I was weirdly calm,” she said. “I felt like God was with me. He was protecting me. He was there. I could actually hear his voice.”
Lynette was taken to a nearby hospital where she underwent hours of surgery. Afterward, she learned that Eddie didn’t make it.
“At first I didn’t believe it,” she said. “But gradually it sank in. I was so sad. I missed her. I was angry.”
A year later, she was sitting in a Franklin County Court House in Ohio watching Eddie’s son, Johnny, plead guilty to involuntary manslaughter and felonious assault. He was sentenced to 40 years in jail.
“He was crying in the court room,” Lynette recalled. “I wondered why he was so afraid then. He’d not been so afraid when he was running around the house stabbing people.”
Lynette went back to her life but she was a scarred woman both inside and out. Afraid of the dark and any place where she could not see an easy escape route, she tried to bury the trauma of that day but was never quite able to do so.
One day, late in 2011, after telling a workmate about the attack, she decided to find out what happened to Johnny. “In the back of my mind, I had always wondered,” she said, “but I never pursued it.”
She found him on Google and, about a month later, decided to write to him. He wrote back, an entire letter, in which he said how sorry he was.
“I owe you overall above else my ‘sincerest apologies’ for the pain and suffering I have caused you. I cannot erase nor remove the mental or physical scars that I caused you, but if you will allow me the chance to express to you my deepest sorrow I would greatly appreciate the opportunity.”
The two began to correspond with each other, and then Lynette decided she was ready for the next step – meeting him in person.
Their first meeting took place in Ross Jail, Ohio, a few months later. She was finally able to ask him the question that had haunted her for years. “Why did you do it?”
Johnny told her that he attacked Lynette and his mother simply because he’d been grounded and was caught using the phone.
It was an unforgettable meeting. “He was crying, so I told him a joke I’d heard in church,” she explained. “He laughed. Then he asked if I could forgive him. I realized in that instant that I could. It was like a burden had been lifted off me. I’d changed a life.”
The two have met seven times now and Lynette recently wrote to the parole board, pressing for Johnny’s release in 2019, telling authorities that he’s a great barber who loves playing chess.
Even while working to free Johnny, her own life is being set free as well. As she writes on The Forgiveness Project website, “Ever since then I have been searching for my purpose for surviving the attack. My mission now is to work with Johnny to offer a story of healing, forgiveness and restoration in the hope of inspiring others.”
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