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Victim Describes Chilling Knife Attack On Her College Graduation Day

By Erica Demarest | December 16, 2015 4:44am | Updated on December 16, 2015 1:02pm
 Ricky Hernandez, 37, was held without bail.
Ricky Hernandez, 37, was held without bail. "You, sir, are a predator," a Cook County judge said.
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DNAinfo; Chicago Police Department

HUMBOLDT PARK — It was 60 degrees on Sunday morning, so when a 21-year-old woman spotted a man at the bottom of her front steps wearing a ski mask, black gloves and a hoodie, she ran.

But the man caught her from behind before she could get back inside her Humboldt Park home.

He wrapped one arm around her neck and began stabbing her repeatedly with a box cutter, prosecutors said.

The 21-year-old woman was supposed to graduate from Northern Illinois University on Sunday with a degree in early childhood education, she said. She was only in Humboldt Park to drop off graduation tickets to her parents.

But she spent the day getting stitched up after surviving the ambush.

The man who attacked her didn't get far, though, prosecutors said. After the woman's relatives flagged down police, they arrested the man — and he was still carrying the box cutter, according to prosecutors.

The alleged attacker, Ricky Hernandez, a 37-year-old father of five, appeared in bond court Monday on charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated battery with a deadly weapon.

"You, sir, are a predator," Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois Jr. told Hernandez. "You are a danger. No bond."

The 21-year-old victim told DNAinfo Chicago she had never met Hernandez before the Sunday morning attack, "never seen him, never had contact with him."

"I literally just came home from college so I wasn’t even there the majority of the year," said the woman, who asked not to be named. "My question was: Why me?"

According to prosecutors, the woman was leaving her family's home on North Drake Avenue about 11:30 a.m. Sunday when she spotted Hernandez at the bottom of the front steps, inside the gate, clad in a black ski mask, black gloves and black hoodie with a Chicago Bulls emblem.

It was 60 degrees outside at the time, Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti said during a bond hearing Monday.

The woman tried to run back inside, but Hernandez caught her as she fumbled with her keys: "He grabbed me from behind and dragged me down the steps. I tried to shake him off, and he started cutting my legs, cutting my arms, cutting my neck."

Prosecutors gave no motive for the attack.

The woman kicked Hernandez repeatedly, she said, and he eventually ran off. She made her way back inside, where she collapsed inside her front door: "I was shaking. I was crying. I told them, 'Somebody tried to kill me.' "

The woman was supposed to walk in a 2 p.m. graduation ceremony at NIU, she said. But instead, she found herself getting seven stitches in her leg at Norwegian American Hospital.

Officers spotted Hernandez riding his bicycle down the 800 block of South St. Louis Avenue, according to police and prosecutors. He was arrested just before noon Sunday, and was still wearing the black ski mask, black gloves and a black hoodie with a red Chicago Bulls logo, court records show.

His public defender on Monday said Hernandez, of the 1400 block of North Lorel Avenue, is married with five children and has worked as a line cook for the past six months.

Hernandez was previously convicted of armed robbery in 1994 and sentenced to 10 years in prison. In 2007, he was convicted of possession of a stolen motor vehicle and sentenced to three years in prison.

Since the attack, the woman has gone to work as usual, logging shifts at a Lincoln Park retail store, because "I still gotta work. I still have bills," she said with a laugh. But the memory isn't going away any time soon. She's been avoiding her family home and living with her sister.

"I've been having flashbacks about the situation, looking at the scars," she said. "I was so scared for my life."

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