- By RYAN MILLS
- Posted August 27, 2009 at 12:23 p.m. , updated August 27, 2009 at 7:17 p.m.
For eight years, Evangeline Severe has lived in fear.
And for eight years, her estranged husband, John Severe, has lived his life on the run, unable to work a steady job, and at one point living in a maintenance room in a New York City apartment building.
Eight years ago, authorities say John Severe, now 35, attacked his wife and tried to stab her to death with a butcher knife inside her parents' home. He fled the scene, and then the state, but on Wednesday John Severe's past caught up with him when he was tracked down by the U.S. Marshal's Service in New York City.
They arrested him on a Collier County warrant for attempted first-degree murder.
"I'm happy as hell today," Evangeline Severe, 40, said Thursday after learning of the arrest. "I was just in joy. I was happy. For a minute, I was in shock. I started screaming and hollering.
"I was so happy I started crying."
It was on the morning of May 27, 2001, that John Severe arrived at the home of Evangeline's parents, 4286 23rd Ave. S.W. in Golden Gate, where Evangeline had been staying for a few weeks. The couple was seperated at the time.
Evangeline described John Severe as a violent and jealous person, with a history of domestic abuse, which she never reported. That morning, as he peered through a window, she said he was "looking crazy."
She told her father not to let John Severe inside, but he did anyway. After asking for a glass of water, reports say John Severe attacked his wife inside her parents bedroom.
"I thought he was going to kill me," Evangeline said.
Her mother, Gloria Allen, 72, witnessed the attack.
"When he came in the room, I thought he was beating her, but he had snatched one of my butcher knives from my countertop," Allen said. "She said, 'Please don't kill me, don't kill me.' I said, 'Oh Lord, John, don't kill my child.'"
"He said, 'Momma, you'll be next.'"
John Severe stabbed his wife in the chest, arms, shoulder, hands and fingers, yelling, "You don't love me. I'm going to kill you." It was then that Evangeline's then-12-year-old daughter, Retina Francis, ran into the room to rescue her mother.
"She jumped on him and started beating him and beating him and beating him until he dropped that knife," Allen said.
"She was a hero," Evangeline said of her daughter.
John Severe ran from the scene, leaving bloody streaks on the wall, and Evangeline was transported to a local hospital. She hasn't seen her husband since, though Allen said that John Severe has called her occassionally over the years to apologize and ask for forgiveness.
"I forgive you, but I will never forget. That's what I told him," Allen said.
Years went by without a trace of John Severe. But recently, while running a routine criminal records check to see if John Severe had been arrested recently, investigators learned that he had been picked up in New York City last spring on a misdemeanor marijuana charge.
John Severe used a fake name when he was arrested, but investigators were able to identify him using his fingerprints.
Further investigation by investigators revealed that Severe was living in an apartment in Brooklyn. The apartment building's maintenance supervisor had been letting Severe stay in the maintenance room in exchange for Severe's help around the building, said Lt. Joe Fiola of the Sheriff's Office Fugitive Warrants Bureau.
However, the man kicked Severe out of the building about a month ago after the pair had a falling out. He provided authorities with Severe's cell phone number, Fiola said.
The U.S. Marshal's Service tracked Severe's cell phone number to a location in New York City on Wednesday night where agents took him into custody. He is awaiting extradition to Collier County, which could take weeks or months, depending on if he cooperates.
"He'll be here eventually, one way or another" Fiola said.
Fiola said John Severe's arrest should send a message.
"Just because it's been several years, we haven't stopped looking," he said.
Though her scars remain, Evangeline Severe is just happy her eight-year nightmare is about over.
"He almost killed me," she said. "I hope he stays in prison for that."Note: Cross posted from [wp angelfury] Whos Killing Families?.