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Teen fights off man with knife

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Wants others to know it’s  possible, ‘even if you’re little’

Layden Lee is a fighter, and she’s got the knife wounds and survival skills to prove it.

Lee, a 14-year-old rising freshman at Red Level High School, fought off a knife-wielding attacker in her Main Street home around midnight Thursday. Now, police are actively working leads to find the identity of the man wearing a blue hoodie and blue jeans that came through the Lees’ back door that night.

On Friday, when most teens would be traumatized to the point of being non-verbal, Lee said she wanted to share her story.

“I want girls to know that, no matter how little you are, you can fight someone off,” Lee said.

And “little” she is – at little more than five feet tall and weighing less than 100 pounds, Lee suffered knife wounds on her stomach and upper left arm, as well as defensive wounds on her hands and face.

The daughter of Loryn and Russell Lee, the teen was recently diagnosed with epilepsy. As a result, the family had spent the better part of Thursday at a doctor’s appointment and returned home around 7 p.m. After the long day, Mrs. Lee, her daughters and their grandmother settled in to watch a movie. About 11:50, the group decided to head to bed – Mom headed to the front porch to make a phone call, and Lee to the kitchen to get a drink of water.

“We don’t have the best cell service in Red Level, and I had to go to the porch to get reception,” Mrs. Lee said. “I heard a commotion coming from inside the house, but I have a 12-year-old daughter, too, and I thought they were just going at it.

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“Then, I heard a muffled scream, and I took off running,” she said. “It was dark, but I saw someone fly out the back door. Then I saw Layden, covered in blood on the kitchen floor. I thought she was saying, ‘Get them,’ but looking back, I think it was, ‘Get him.’”

Police quickly arrived and recovered the knife used in the attack. Tracking dogs were unsuccessful in finding a suspect.

All involved believe there are two likely scenarios – one, the man was attempting to break into the home and Lee startled him by appearing in the kitchen; or, two, the man was there to kidnap Lee.

“The first is more likely,” Mrs. Lee said. “We’d been gone all day, and the house was dark, and I guess it looked like no one was home. The thing is, it was my knife. I’d gotten a set for Christmas and hand-washed them. They were laying out drying by the sink.

“It was the long butcher knife, just like you see in the horror movies.”

The man didn’t say a word during the attack, the teen said.

“He was strong, and probably about a foot taller than me,” she said. “I was scared he was trying to take me away. It was pitch dark. He came up behind me and covered my mouth. He never said a word. He had the knife to my stomach. I remember thinking to do what my daddy told me to do – kick ‘em, punch him in the throat – so I grabbed the knife. Then, I tried to get his hand off my mouth, and I’m kicking and fighting, trying to get away.”

The man then threw Lee to the kitchen floor, where the assault continued. During the struggle, his hand slipped off Lee’s mouth and she was able to call for help.

When Mrs. Lee heard the scream, she came running – an act she believes caused the man to flee.

“Layden has epilepsy, so when she screams, I run,” Mrs. Lee said. “For me, it was just sheer panic. Now, I am amazed at my brave girl.”

Lee, on the other hand, is doing a great job holding it together.

“I feel brave,” she said. “I can’t believe I fought him off. I do feel like I could have got him caught, but I did what my daddy said do. But, I know he’s out there somewhere and that scares me.”

The family is planning to install extra dead bolts and a security system in their home – and carry on with their lives. It will be a long while before the teen is able to sleep in her room by herself, her mother said.

Anyone with any information is asked to contact the Red Level Police Department by calling the command center at 334-427-4911.