HEB slashing victim demands change at transitional center

Kloe was injured when a man attacked her and slashed her throat while in the parking lot of the HEB in South Austin. (KXAN)
Kloe was injured when a man attacked her and slashed her throat while in the parking lot of the HEB in South Austin (KXAN Photo)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — It’s been six months since a man slashed a woman’s throat and stabbed her several times while trying to rob her in the parking lot of a grocery store in South Austin. Her scars have healed and now she’s wanting a policy change at the Austin Transitional Center where the accused attacker walked away from.

“I was just soaked in blood, just covered,” Kloe said. “It was seven major cuts and the seventh one must have broke the blade off.”

Kloe, who asked us not to use her real name, was on her way home from The Eagles concert on May 19.  She decided to make a quick stop at the HEB in South Austin on South Congress and Oltorf.

“There was a police car right there where I drive in and I totally felt safe,” said Kloe who said she parked on the West end of the parking lot where she usually parks.

After she checked out, she was walking back to her car when she felt someone press something against her back.

“Those first words, ‘I’ve killed three people and do what I tell you to,” That’s what Kloe said Edward Bennett told her before police say he violently attacked her with a razor blade.

“You’re not protecting society, you’re just like throwing a wild dog back out to kill again.”

Police said it happened just after 1:30 a.m. May 20, Bennett approached her and demanded a ride. She refused, and that’s when Bennett allegedly tried to take her purse. Authorities said during the struggle, Bennett slashed the woman’s throat and then took off with her purse.

“He was just constantly going like this, he didn’t stop he didn’t even hesitate,” said Kloe as she motioned to how she was attacked.

She said Bennett stabbed her seven times and tried to stab her in the heart but the blade broke off in her shoulder. She underwent several surgeries and had multiple stitches.

“How can it be so easy to get away, I just don’t understand that, especially that bad of a person,” asked Kloe in regards to the Austin Transitional Center where Bennett was staying.  “You’re not protecting society, you’re just like throwing a wild dog back out to kill again.”

How Bennett got away

During the investigation, detectives got a call from an Austin-area parole officer who told them he suspected Bennett might be responsible for the attack. Bennett left the Austin Transitional Center halfway house on a medical pass on May 19. The parole officer told detectives that Bennett — a known violent offender — had “defeated his Global Positioning System ankle monitor” late on May 19, just hours before the attack at the H-E-B. The parole officer also said Bennett had failed to return to the halfway house, resulting in an arrest warrant being issued for his parole violation.

Just three days after the attack, patrol officers arrested Bennett. A palm print was then taken from him, which forensic technicians reportedly compared to a palm print recovered from the woman’s property. The analysis confirmed that both palm prints were taken from the same person, police say.

How Transitional Centers Work

Transitional centers are not built like prisons and typically do not have locked doors, guards, barbed wire or dogs monitoring the area. The center acts as a way for people, close to finishing their time, to reconnect with society.

“It’s a facility that adheres to a rules and regulations in an honor system and if you want to walk out the front door, that is available to you as an option with the consequences to follow,” said Hector Gomez, spokesperson for the Lone Star Fugitive Task Force in an interview earlier this year. He explained that even though people may walk away, legally they ‘escaped’ since they are still under federal custody.

Bennett’s criminal background

Edward Roy Bennett, 49, was out on parole and living at the halfway house near Del Valle. Bennett took off his Global Positioning System (GPS) ankle monitor hours before the attack on May 19 and never returned back to the house.

In 1983 near Wichita Falls, Bennett was convicted of manslaughter, pleading down a charge of murder. He was sentenced to six years in prison.

In 1990, around Fort Worth, Bennett was arrested for burglary and attacking two people, one of them a jail guard. The attack netted a concurrent 30-year sentence. He was released after 25 years, this past February, to the Austin Transitional Center.

Bennett was taken into custody three days after the attack on May 23.

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