BROOKHAVEN, Ga. — Saturday will be one week since a pregnant woman, Valerie Kasper, was attacked and stabbed in Brookhaven while taking a walk with her three-year-old son.
She expects to go home from the hospital. But Kasper’s baby, delivered by emergency C-section right after the attack, will have to stay behind, for now, in intensive care - possibly for months.
It is a story of terror, and recovery, and survival.
Kasper spoke with 11Alive Friday from her room at Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta. She remembers every detail.
"It's in my head. And I'm constantly seeing it," she said.
Kasper said she keeps reliving that moment on the greenway in Brookhaven a week ago at about 5:30 p.m., June 5.
She was five months pregnant and walking with her son, Benjamin.
A man who the police now say was Christopher Jones targeted Kasper in a random attack stabbing her in her back and stomach as Benjamin watched.
Benjamin was not hurt.
Kasper's wounds were so severe, doctors had to perform an emergency C-section to deliver Benjamin's brother, Theodore, four months premature.
“It's amazing to me that I got stabbed four times. And nothing was destroyed, he didn't hit the baby, he didn't hit the womb at all. I have superficial cuts on me. They had to fix my liver and colon. I don’t know how he missed my lung," she said. "So it’s okay. It's just a miracle that I’m alive and my baby is alive. So, I’m emotional talking about it, because I’m here and I’m glad to be here.”
Kasper praised the police.
“They arrested him (the suspect), he confessed, it’s done. And it’s a huge relief that that monster is not on the street doing this to other pregnant women walking with their three-year-olds.”
Her newborn, Theodore, she said, is getting stronger.
“He's doing well. He is obviously very small. He's 25 weeks old, well, he’s past the 26-week mark now. And he was born really big for his age. He was over a kilo (he was 2.5 pounds), which is not the normal size for a preemie that young. So we're really happy about that," she said. "And he has a lot of energy. Steve (Theodore’s father) calls him Spider-Man because he's constantly throwing his arm or his leg out of the swaddle and grabbing wires on him, which is what he shouldn’t be doing, but he seems to be strong. And you know, every day is going to be a new update from them in NICU that, I'm sure, will be some worrisome days. But at this point, we were getting a lot of positive news.”
And, she said, she is getting stronger, too.
“Every day, I have more energy, even with little sleep and pain. I can walk a little more. I can reach a little more. I can stand a little more.”
She and the children's father, her partner, Steve Barkdoll, are both teachers.
And they are targets, now, of people who want to help the family recover, supporting the family in online fundraisers.
“It's unbelievable. I mean, obviously, it’s tragic and horrible. But it’s incredible ... and it makes me really feel grateful for every moment of my life now," Kasper said. "So, not that I was ungrateful before, but perhaps we take life for granted in moments.”
Terror, survival, recovery, and, a future.
“It’s not over. It’s going to be something that’s changed our lives forever. But everybody's love and support is what's keeping me going.”
A future for Valerie Kasper and her family.