After fighting to rid a strangling, bat-wielding intruder from their apartment last semester, two students bear burdens of emotional aftermath and also have advice for their peers.
Kt Hiester, a sophomore health science major from Brigham City, woke at about 4 a.m. April 15 to a stranger squeezing her throat. She fought back with kicks, but the intruder responded with punches. Hiester’s roommate Amy Reeve, a sophomore elementary education major from Monticello, woke to the sound of the struggle and confronted the assailant with a shout. He reacted by striking her with a bat. Eventually the attacker fled, and Hiester and Reeve walked away battered and bruised but alive nonetheless.
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Today, Hiester and Reeve stand as advocates for being prepared for the worst. Together, they offer advice for fellow students to prevent rare, yet monstrous situations like waking up to someone with murderous intentions.
“Be safe, lock your doors and be smart about things,” Reeve said. “You never know when something like that is going to happen.”
Neither the assailant, nor his motive has been identified, but police send regular updates on the progress of the investigation, Hiester said. Reeve and Hiester said they’re both frustrated the attacker is still at large.
“The fact that I don’t know who it was drives me nuts,” Hiester said. “He didn’t hurt me to the point of where I needed medical attention or even like death, but he stole my peace of mind. I don’t know if it’s ever going to come back.”
Hiester said she now takes medicine to help her fall asleep at night and always carries pepper spray. Both Reeve and Hiester saw a therapist over the summer to help cope with their unease as a result of the attack.
“It’s scary that it happened, but it helps to kind of not let it run my life,” Reeve said.
Hiester said she feels fortunate that she wasn’t alone in her apartment the night the intruder crept through her unlocked door. Reeve said there’s safety in numbers, and students should look out for each other.
“There’s always the chance that I could have died if somebody else hadn’t of been there,” Hiester said. “I definitely feel lucky that it wasn’t worse.”
While Reeve is still living at Rebel’s Roost, Hiester decided to move into an apartment at Red Rock Ridge as a result of the attack. A “friendly reminder” to turn the lock is taped on the inside of her apartment’s front door.
“It made me more aware,” Hiester said. “I always lock my doors now.”
Reeve said she wished she would have known more about self-defense to fight against the attacker more effectively. She now encourages everyone to take a self-defense class, which is offered at Dixie State University.
Reeve also said she wishes the security cameras at Rebel’s Roost would have been in service because they would have been helpful in identifying the intruder.
Hiester said police guess the intruder was probably a transient, since a bus station is just right across the street from Rebel’s Roost.
“They said they get a lot of transients through there, and so that’s probably all there was to it,” Hiester said, shaking her head. “He just saw us on our balcony that night, I guess.”
Hiester said she never thought such an incident would happen to her when she moved to St. George, but that shows it could happen to anyone. She said she’s now extra cautious, especially when walking outside alone. She also encourages other students to not leave expensive items in plain sight and close their windows if others can easily see into their apartments.
“I try not to be too paranoidbecause I know the likelihood of it happening again isn’t big, but it doesn’t hurt to be preventative,” she said.
Hiester and Reeve described the intruder as a Caucasian male in his mid-20s with shaggy blonde hair and some facial hair, roughly 5 feet 10 inches tall. Anyone with more information about the man or the assault can contact the St. George Police Department at 435-627-4300.