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‘I’m not dying today’: Grandmother outwits, fights attackers after being severely beaten, threatened with her life in quaint Iowa wine shop where she works

A grandmother summoned her considerable wits and strength to fight back against a pair of attackers who trapped her late last month inside a quaint wine shop in East Davenport, Iowa, where she works.

Even after enduring a severe beating and being threatened with rape and death, four words steeled resolve in the courageous woman’s mind: “I’m not dying today.”

What are the details?

The grandmother — who’s name isn’t used in the Sioux City Journal’s story about the harrowing ordeal — was alone at work in Wide River Winery in East Davenport on April 28.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

Liz Quinn, the outfit’s chief of operations, told the paper a man and woman walked into the shop around 5 p.m. and proceeded to give the grandmother the creeps.

In a separate incident, a stone was thrown through one of the winery’s doors, and the duo said they know who did it, the paper said.

“She thanked them and told them they could leave,” Quinn recalled to the paper. “They told her several times not to call the cops. As soon as they left, she called another co-worker and said, ‘I got a really bad feeling from them.'”

The grandmother was locking up the shop when the man and woman returned 10 minutes later, the paper said.

Quinn told the paper the man said, “I told you not to call the [expletive] cops.” Quinn then said “he hit her in the head with his fist. She said she screamed louder than she’s ever screamed. She was screaming, and the village [of East Davenport] heard her.”

A merchant driving by with his window down heard the screams, as did an approaching customer, the Journal reported, adding that they both called 911.

‘He told her he could rape her or kill her’

“The guy … started beating her head on the floor, saying he wanted the money and the surveillance video,” Quinn told the paper. “She told him to take the money … and go, but he wanted that video. He told her he could rape her or kill her because he had a knife.”

That’s when the grandmother exercised admirable presence of mind and cunning.

She couldn’t fight both of them, so the grandmother hatched a plan to separate them in the hopes she’d be left alone with the woman and overpower her, the paper said. So she told her assailants the video was in the basement — but man told the woman to look for it, and he continued beating the grandmother, the Journal said.

“He was trying to choke her, and she remembered saying to herself, ‘Not today. I’m not dying today,” Quinn recounted to the paper.

The woman returned without the video, so the grandmother summoned her wits once more and told the pair she had forgotten and suggested that the man should look upstairs for the video, the paper said.

He did.

“When he went upstairs, she saw her chance,” Quinn told the Journal, though it would come with big risks. “He had told the girl, if she moved, she should stab her.”

Turning the tables, big time

With that, the grandmother grabbed a wooden stool at a table near the door and swung it at the woman, Quinn told the paper.

“With the tasting-room stool, she clocked that girl,” Quinn added to the Journal. “She reached the door and the girl yelled, ‘She’s getting away!’ The guy comes back, and he grabs her by the hair, pulling her back in. She then grabbed one of the aluminum chairs off the deck and hit him with it.”

The paper said that was when police arrived, which sent the pair back into the winery, Quinn said, adding that officers nabbed the suspects.

Image source: YouTube screenshot

But it wasn’t exactly a breeze, as “police had to use the taser on [the man] three times,” Quinn noted to the Journal.

Who are the suspects?

Christopher Lavelle Mitchell, 35, and Emilee Rose Haberling, 20, were charged with one count each of first-degree kidnapping, first-degree robbery, interference with official acts, and harassment of public officers and employees, Davenport police said.

The department added that Haberling also was charged with first-degree theft and obstructing 911. The Journal said Mitchell has an extensive criminal record.

As of Wednesday, both Mitchell and Haberling were in the Scott County Jail on no bond.

‘She’s just so strong’

Police told the paper that the grandmother suffered a fractured eye socket, a broken collar bone, and had clumps of hair pulled from her scalp leaving bald spots, as well as bleeding and bruising.

Despite the physical, mental, and emotional trauma the victim suffered, Quinn told the paper the first thing she told her co-workers was that she was glad it was her and not them.

“She’s just so strong,” Quinn added to the Journal. “She has a daughter and grandkids, and she thought it through. She decided she was going to fight. I found one of her earrings under the ice machine. That’s how violent it was.”

‘I don’t think he was planning on leaving a witness’

Casey Maher, a co-worker of the victim, went to the winery shortly after the attack and helped clean up blood and speak with police, the paper said: “I just don’t understand the level of cruelty. That guy was waiting for the surveillance video. I don’t think he was planning on leaving a witness. The first time I talked to her, she said she was so grateful it wasn’t one of us. She was afraid if it had been someone smaller or one of us got too scared to fight, we’d be having a funeral. She was glad it wasn’t us. Can you believe that?”

Wide River Winery Attack