WAKE FOREST, N.C. (WNCN) – A mother of three said she pretended to be unconscious in order to survive being attacked and stabbed while working as a caretaker in Wake Forest on Monday.
Police said the suspect was trying to steal a car as he ran from officers on Monday afternoon when the stabbing occurred.
The victim, Tina Salvador, fought for her life and to be able to see her children again.
Salvador said when the man came after her with a knife, she thought of her family, the woman she looked after, even that woman’s dog — and fought hard.
So hard, she lost a lot of blood and even some fingernails, but she’s alive to share the story.
“When he told me he was going to kill me, the thoughts that were running through my head was I would never see my kids graduate,” said Salvador.
When it happened, the woman Salvador looks after was at a doctor’s appointment.
Salvador was at the home alone cleaning, watching the dog, and watering plants outside, when she first saw the suspect.
“I saw a man jumping over her fence area and I just put my hands up, I saw he had a knife and I just said, ‘No, what do you want?'”
The man, who police identified as Michael Keeling, 29, charged her and grabbed her from behind.
She said he demanded her car keys, which were inside.
“I could feel the knife starting to go into my throat and he said he was going to kill me and I knew it was a fight or flight situation,” said Salvador.
“I just elbowed him. That’s when he went down, he stabbed my leg, and then I turned around and he went to go stab me a second time and I just started fighting with him,” said Salvador.
After he pulled out her hair and bashed her head on the concrete, she said she pretended to pass out.
He then ran into the house.
“When he ran off in the house, I jumped up and I ran across the road, screaming.”
Her scream prompted neighbors to call 911.
“I noticed then I was bleeding, and it was a lot of blood,” said Salvador.
She said she didn’t feel any pain as adrenaline took over.
She spent six hours at the hospital. A few days later, she came back to work at the same home.
“That’s not going to stop me,” said Salvador.
Still, when she closes her eyes, she sees Keeling.
“It’s just seeing his face. I can still see his face and how big his eyes were, I can still hear his voice, and he was very sweaty, I can still feel all of that.”
Despite it, she wants to move forward.
“I do forgive him for the acts he did, but I’ll never forget it,” said Salvador.
Police arrested Keeling, who a registered sex offender, the next day not far from the house. He now has several charges, from assault to breaking and entering.