Attacked by man on trial for murder, Milwaukee woman stays strong
MILWAUKEE - Her name is Melissa Richards, and she's lucky to be alive. The man accused of attacking her is also charged with murdering another woman three days later.
Looking back on the last year, Richards describes it, "Crazy. In one word, crazy. A lot of ups and downs."
For the first time since a Hubertus man was arrested for her attack, and for Jessie Blodgett's murder, Richards explains what she went through fighting the man off, and how she's moving on.
"You can't let someone have that much power over you," Richards explains.
Last July, Richards was taking her dog Remy for a walk in the Richfield Nature Park when she heard a man behind her.
"I noticed he had a knife in his hand and he tackled me on the ground. Somehow I got the knife, we wrestled. He couldn't get it away from me."
She managed to get away and run to her car. In the process, she memorized the make, model and license plate of her attacker's car.
Just three days after Richards' attack, Hartford teen Jessie Blodgett was found murdered in her bedroom. Police arrested then 19-year-old Daniel Bartelt for both violent crimes.
When asked what she thought when police told her the same man could be responsible, Richards responded, "I wasn't surprised."
Richards explains it's hard not to think he was trying to kill her as well. She finds comfort in the fact she helped police make an arrest in both cases.
"I know her family is grateful for what I did. They are very sweet people."
The only scars Richards admits to from the attack are from the 15 stitches she needed from grabbing the knife by the blade. She tries not to think about the attack, and has moved on with her life. With a passion for dogs, she just opened up her business, a dog sanctuary.
"Made me realize life is too short. If I'm going to do something I gotta do it now."
Richards admits should would like to know why she was attacked, but adds she doesn't know if she'll sit through the trial. She wants everyone to know she is strong and won't be defined by one horrible moment in her life.
"I'm fine that it happened to me because I have been able to overcome it and now I can tell my story to other people and say you don't have to make a bad situation worse."
Bartelt will face a jury in August for Blodgett's murder. No trial date has been set for Richard's attack.