December 26, 2013

Maine woman still fighting back after vicious attack

Kayleigh Ballantyne of Gorham talks about her ordeal in South Boston and her recovery in the months since.

By Steve Solloway ssolloway@pressherald.com
Columnist

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Kayleigh Ballantyne, of Gorham, plays field hockey for Bryant College at a game with UMaine in Orono on Oct. 6, a few months after she was stabbed by an assailant outside her South Boston apartment. “He tried to take my life,” she says.

Michael C. York/Special to the Press Herald

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Kayleigh Ballantyne with her mother, Kim, after a field hockey game with UMaine in Orono on Oct. 6.

Additional Photos Below

The paramedics arrived and took her to nearby Tufts Medical Center. Kayleigh gave them a description of her attacker. Amazingly, Alemany walked into the emergency room at the same hospital for his badly cut hand. He was recognized and arrested. Soon, he was linked to the kidnapping and murder of Amy Lord, only 18 hours earlier. He is accused of attacking a third woman that day but letting her go. He has since been charged with an assault on a fourth woman, in 2012.

Lord was 24, from the small Massachusetts town of Wilbraham and a graduate of Bentley College in Waltham, Mass. The ferocity of her murder affected even hardened Boston police.

“The attacks were all blitz-style physical assaults where the victims were immediately overwhelmed by violence,” said Suffolk County District Attorney Daniel Conley at a news conference. Lord was stabbed and strangled. Her killing was called brutal and savage by Assistant District Attorney John Pappas.

Kayleigh didn’t know Lord and hadn’t heard of her death when she left the Brick and Mortar restaurant that night. “People say, ‘You’re a hero because you’re the reason they caught him.’ God helped me,” Kayleigh said. “(Alemany’s) showing up at the same hospital wasn’t my doing. I am thankful. I think he would have killed again.”

NO STRANGERS TO TRAUMA

When her family gathered at her hospital bed in July, it wasn’t the first time they prayed for their daughter and sister. She suffered a fractured skull more than 10 years ago in the Gorham Elementary School gym when a basketball hoop fell on her. She was unresponsive, in critical condition, and needed surgery.

Years later, during the spring of her sophomore year at Bryant, she fell during field hockey practice and was hit on the head by the butt end of a stick. She was in great pain, suffering a traumatic brain injury, or severe concussion. The stick had hit the part of her skull where bone had been removed for the surgery. When she returned to field hockey, she wore a helmet.

In fact, the Ballantyne family has endured more than its share of traumatic events. Kayleigh’s father, Bruce, was diagnosed with cancer when she was 8. He has survived three major surgeries, the most recent of them last spring.

Big brother Kendrick, 30, was airlifted from the University of Maine to a Boston hospital in the middle of the night about 10 years ago with a baseball-size clot in his lung. He had been hurt earlier in the day playing tight end for the Maine football team. He also suffered several traumatic brain injuries in his football career.

Both parents are close to their three children, including Keegan, 26, who also was a star athlete at Gorham High. Neither parent approved of Kayleigh spending the summer in South Boston, although Kendrick had transferred from Maine to Northeastern University and Keegan attended Emmanuel College, both in the heart of Boston. Kayleigh wanted a bit of the same experience living in the city. She was 21 and an adult and won the discussion.

After the assault, her parents and brothers quickly rallied to her side. Kim Ballantyne is a nurse practitioner and a former colonel in the Maine Army National Guard, working with veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. En route to Boston with a friend, she called fellow nurse practitioners she knew in the Boston area. At 2 a.m. she reached two, asking both to get to the hospital and be her eyes and ears.

“I knew the police wouldn’t tell me on the phone if my daughter was dead,” Kim said. “I wanted people I knew there.” She called the hospital, insisting she speak to her daughter. That wasn’t possible, she was told. The wounds around Kayleigh’s mouth were being stitched. From another phone call, Kim learned that the hospital was in lockdown. The suspect had been spotted and caught.

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Additional Photos

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Kayleigh Ballantyne, right, of Gorham, hugs her father, Bruce, during the Opening Convocation at Bryant University in Rhode Island on Sept. 4. Kayleigh received the university’s Character Award for her courage in confronting her assailant.

David Silverman photo

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Edwin Alemany, 28, appears in court on Aug. 14. Besides facing charges in the attack on Kayleigh Ballantyne, he is a suspect in the fatal stabbing of Amy Lord of Wilbraham, Mass., and other assaults.

 


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