It all started when…
Marti heard something at the door. On the way to see who it was, she glanced at the time. It was close to 7:30 a.m. With a quick glance out the window, she saw Brian Pennington, the handyman that had done work on her home a few weeks ago. She did not have a scheduled appointment with him. He lived about an hour and a half away, close to Warrensburg, MO. Still she rationalized his presence at her doorstep. He must be working in the area and wondering if I have more work that needs to be done.
He had never arrived that early when he had worked on her house before. Looking back, Marti realized that she did have an uneasy feeling about this, but she ignored the significance of her instincts. She would never want to come off as rude.
Marti was moments from heading out the door when he arrived. She answered the door. Brian said he wanted to show her something in the basement that he thought she should have fixed. She didn’t think too much of this because he knew she was getting the house ready to put on the market.
Marti led him to the basement, trying to start small talk with him as she usually would. This time was different. He didn’t say anything. No acknowledgement of her words whatsoever.
They reached the bottom of the stairs, took a few steps, and Brian grabbed her around the neck. The pressure tightened around her neck and in sheer confusion she asked him, “What are you doing?”
She thought to herself I should know what to do when someone strangles you. I should know how to get out of this, but it was all happening so fast. Her voice quickly faded and she lost consciousness. For a moment, she came to and tried to fight back, grabbing at Pennington. She told him to get out of her house and again asked him, “What are you doing?”
Marti was left on the floor of her basement.
Marti’s coworkers were her angels on earth that day.
Marti adored everything about her job as a graphic artist for an apparel company, and her coworkers adored her too. They described her as reliable, a hard worker with a good heart, and someone who rarely took a day off.
Shortly after 8 a.m., several of her coworkers had already taken notice of her absence. When she was not present for the weekly Operations Meeting at 10 a.m., they began to express their concern with each other and with HR. Of course, it was very out of character for her to be late and unusual that no one had heard from her. They tried to call and texts but received no response.
At approximately 11:30 a.m., Marti’s boss decided to drive by her house. When he arrived at her house, he saw her car in the driveway, but there were no other signs of anyone being home. He attempted to ring the doorbell, but didn’t hear anything so he wasn’t certain that it was working. He knocked again rather loudly, but there was no response.
He then went to his car and called back to the office to explain what had happened. The girls at the office called the Prairie Village Police Department and requested a welfare check at Marti’s residence.
A police officer headed to her home in a neighborhood they seldom needed to visit due to it’s reputation for safety. When the officer realized the front door was unlocked, he entered the home. After searching all of the upstairs rooms, he made his way to the basement and found what appeared to be a lifeless figure covered from head to toe in a large pool of blood.
Marti was rushed to the hospital, and for the next 12 days, her world was blank.
The injuries she suffered were incredibly extensive.
Several fractures to her skull and face.
Several ¼” deep, 6” long knife wounds in her neck.
Severe brain concussion and severe brain swelling.
Stitches around her eyebrows from cuts on the face.
No sexual assault.
When Marti’s mother and children saw her, they were in shock that they could not recognize the face most familiar to them. Her family placed a picture taken prior to the attack next to her so doctors would know what she looked like.
The doctors are certain that Marti would not have lived much longer with medical attention and were surprised that she made it as long as she did with the injuries she had sustained.
In the medical field, there are 5 levels of trauma with level 1 being the worst. At Level 1, the injured patient’s chances of survival is estimated at 20% – 25%. Marti was a Level 1 trauma patient.
On September 13, 2010, Marti’s fifth day in the hospital, an arrest was made. The Johnson County District Attorney's Office arrested Brian K. Pennington and charged him with attempted first-degree murder. He was held in Benton County, MO on $1 million bail. He eventually pleaded guilty to the charges of attempted first-degree murder, aggravated assault, and was sentenced to 28 years in prison.
When reflecting back on the whole experience, Marti does not feel angry because she knows that anger will not get her anywhere. She still has a difficult time understanding the many questions surrounding how and why something like this could happen. She has since made it her goal to help others know what to look for to avoid being placed in a similar situation. Doing so has been a positive force in her healing process because it has allowed her to turn something awful into something productive.