(INSIDE EDITION) - A 23-year-old Florida woman who was allegedly attacked by a roommate she found on Craigslist may never see again if she wakes up from a coma, her family told InsideEdition.com.
Danielle Jones was allegedly stabbed and beaten by Byron Mitchell, 35, who relatives said was staying at the apartment for less than a week when cops say he attacked her on February 14, her birthday.
“Her eyes have hemorrhaged because he strangled her so badly. The doctors are saying she might not be able to see,” her cousin, Kaitlin Cabot, 16, told IE.
The young woman, who was working as a bartender for a catering business, is also going to have to undergo a tracheotomy, as the tubes currently down her throat are deteriorating her airway, Cabot said.
“Her life is ruined. We don’t know if she’s going to wake up and even if she does, her life has been changed forever,” Cabot said.
Jones had been staying with her aunt and uncle while Mitchell lived in her one-bedroom Miami apartment for a planned two-week stint at $400 per week, but she returned home to get ready to go out to celebrate her birthday, family said.
Her plans were dashed when her friends had to cancel at the last minute.
“She only came that night to get dressed and she got stood up. She stayed there (because) she didn’t want to call her aunt and uncle because they have a little girl and she didn’t want to call them so late at night,” Cabot said.
Instead, she said, a friend came to the apartment and the pair stayed up talking with Mitchell until about 5 a.m., when Mitchell went to bed.
“She called over another friend… and he was saying Byron was a complete gentleman. They were all talking politics, nobody was upset, nobody was drunk,” Cabot said.
Mitchell has no criminal history in South Florida or in his hometown of Jackson County, Mississippi. He served in the U.S. Air Force from 2002 until 2006 and then participated in the Air Force Reserves between 2006 and 2014, the Air Force said. In 2014 he transferred to the Individual Ready Reserve.
But others painted a different picture of Mitchell to Cabot and her family, she said.
“People who know him have reached out and they’re saying he’s a super creep,” Cabot told IE, saying she’s heard countless stories that he allegedly engaged in inappropriate behavior toward women.
“I know she felt uneasy all throughout that night,” Cabot said. “He (Mitchell) went to bed about 5 a.m. and the friend she had over said he would come out to the kitchen every half hour and get some water. No. He was checking on her. I think she rejected him and he blew up.”
Jones’s friend left her apartment about 8 a.m. About three hours later, Mitchell reportedly called 911 claiming Jones attacked him and he acted in self-defense.
“All you have to do is look at them. He’s 6’2,” Cabot said of her 5-foot-3 cousin’s alleged attacker, who lists his occupation on his Facebook as a Health and Fitness Business Owner.
He was arrested one day after the alleged assault and charged with attempted murder. He was being held without bond and is due back in court March 7 to be arraigned, according to court records.
When reached by IE, Mitchell's public defender said he had no comment.
For now, Cabot and Jones’ other family members can only hope she will improve.
“She’s opened her eyes, but it’s only when they take her off medicine,” Cabot said. “She’s in so much pain. It seems like she’s awake, but she’s not. But I talk to her when I'm there and I think she can hear me."
Cabot created a GoFundMe page to offset the many medical costs her cousin and family is and will incur as she fights to stay alive. More than $28,000 had been raised by Friday.
"Please keep praying for her and sharing this page. Dani please wake up," the page read.
“She didn’t deserve this. She’s super vibrant; she’s probably one of the most caring people I know. She’s amazing toward her friends and her family. She’ll bring in a homeless person so they can eat,” Cabot told IE, recalling a Thanksgiving where her cousin brought a man down on his luck to family dinner.
“She asked, ‘hey, can we feed him for Thanksgiving?’ She was doing it out of the kindness of her heart.”
Cabot’s mother, Kelly, told IE that was a memorable holiday, saying with a laugh: “That’s just who Dani is.”
“Right now, we’re just praying,” Kelly Cabot said. “And we’re looking at her as if she’s an angel in slumber.”
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