Burnsville, Minn. (KMSP) - A Burnsville, Minn. woman survives an attempted murder at the hands of her fiancé and is now determined to turn her ordeal into a message of courage.
“Xander and I were best friends since we were 10 years old,” Michele Armstrong said of her attacker.
“We dated when we were teenagers and then I moved away. He told me to come back when he found out I was in an abusive relationship.”
Armstrong admits she saw red flags in their relationship, but despite the warnings, the two had a son and got engaged.
For the first 6 months he was sober and everything was great, but then when he started using again," Armstrong said.
"Red flags were like he got really mean, he called names, and he scared me. Never really put hands on me or put anything like that but he was very threatening."
Then, on Sept. 14, everything changed. By then, both Armstrong and her fiancé had slipped into drug use - methamphetamines.
They spent the night before and into the early morning of Sept. 14th driving. Once along Pilot Knob Road and Ellice Trail in Apple Valley Michelle recounts what she says she never foresaw.
“We were driving probably 6 hours when I said, I'm done, and I got really angry and upset. I said I'm done, bring me home now.”
Her fiancé refused.
“I wasn't going to live if I stayed in the car he was going to kill me. We were going about 50 mph when I rolled out of the vehicle and he tried to pull me back in but I got out. He turned the car around. All I could hear was the tires. And he hit me with my vehicle.”
Michele got up and somehow ran to a nearby yard. Her fiancé followed with a knife. A knife he used to stab her dozens of times.
“They stopped counting at about 50 wounds,” Captain Nick Francis of the Apple Valley Police Department said of the injuries Armstrong sustained.
Apple Valley police responded to scene after a tipster reported a suspicious car on the side of the road. Had it not been for the attentive passerby,
“She would've died, absolutely. This 911 caller saver her life,” Captain Francis confirms.
Armstrong agrees that the passerby saved her life.
“I was two minutes from death when police arrived on scene. I should be dead today and it was all for love.”
Before police got to scene Armstrong’s fiancé turned the knife on himself. Responders tried but were unable to revive him.
“I will always love the healthy Xander. But I will always fear anybody on that drug.”
A month and a half after the attack, Armstrong is sober, in treatment and in therapy.
“I'm the girl that looks in the mirror every day and sees these scars that almost killed me because we decided to do drugs.”
She one day hopes to become an advocate for women and girls. Until then, Armstrong wants anyone who can relate to her story gets help -- before it's too late.
“If you have to question your safety, leave. It's not worth it. You don't want to be the girl that's laying in her own blood.”
Directors at 360 Communities, a domestic violence support agency, say leaving an abusive relationship can be the most dangerous time for victims of domestic abuse.
If you find yourself in an abusive relationship and need to seek a safe way out there are several agencies in and around the Twin Cities Metro that can help. Below are just a few:
Violence Prevention Services
501 e. Highway 13, Suite 102, Burnsville, MN
Cornerstone Advocacy Service
1000 E. 80th St. Bloomington, MN
Tubman Family Crisis & Support Services
4432 Chicago Ave. South, Minneapolis, MN