Just two weeks after a young woman advertised for a roommate on Craigslist, she was beaten, slashed, and battered so severely she is now in a coma. The family of Danielle Jones, 23, says she is now fighting to remain alive after the brutal assault that took place on her birthday, February 14, 2016, Valentine’s Day, reports NBC News 6.
Jones, who is described by those who know her as full of life and independent, was living in a Downtown Miami, Florida, apartment. She was working with a local catering company and decided to look for a roommate on Craigslist due to the rising cost of rent, according to ABC News 10.
The news media outlet reports that using Craigslist, Jones came in contact with Byron Mitchell, 35, who ABC News 10 indicates purports to own a health and fitness business. Mitchell responded to the roommate ad placed by Jones and moved into the apartment with her. Just one week later, Jones lay comatose at Jackson Memorial Hospital where she now clings to life, ABC News 10 reports.
“I’m still in shock, I can’t comprehend that someone can do this to someone, mutilate them in such a way and try to kill them,” Jones’ mother, Aimee Nikolov, told NBC News 6. “My daughter’s face is cut up like he was going to take her face off. She has a brain injury and no one knows what the prognosis is.”
“He beat her to a coma and ventilator support with various face and skull fractures, multiple injuries to include multiple cuts on her face… she was celebrating her 23rd birthday.”
Nikolov further wants to get the message out to anyone thinking about placing an ad for a roommate on Craigslist, or any similar type of website. She told ABC News 10, “Be more careful… And maybe Craigslist should implement some background checks.”
Kaitlin Cabot, Jones’ cousin, echoed the same sentiment, telling NBC News 6 the family wants to bring attention to this issue of placing online ads on Craigslist and other websites in order to “…raise some type of awareness for other people to be careful because I can’t explain in words how hard it is to see her like this.”
Six days have now passed since the attack and Nikolov is concerned as Jones remains comatose.
“We hold on to hope. It’s in God’s hands,” she told NBC News 6.
As for Mitchell, the man who answered Jones’ Craigslist ad, he claims he attacked Jones in self-defense, saying she came at him with a knife. He was arrested a day after the incident on February 15, and is being held without bond at Turner Guilford Knight Correctional Center, facing charges of attempted murder, according to ABC News 10.
According to the Miami Herald, Lt. Freddie Cruz with the Miami Police department gave statement.
“There are conflicting statements, and it’s up in the air if there was a relationship between the two.” He told the news media outlet he had no further details regarding the case as of Saturday.
Jones’ family has created a GoFundMe page that displays graphic images of Jones in her hospital bed, bruised, with stitches, intubated, and a brace around her neck. The crowd funding effort was created because, as her family wrote on the website, “If and when she wakes, she will need extensive care and rehabilitation… Please help her any way you can. Even if just with prayers,” reports the Miami Herald.
CBS News notes that over the years, there have been several crimes that occurred after Craigslist ads were placed. In 2009, Philip Markoff, also dubbed the “Craigslist Killer” was charged with killing Julissa Brisman, a woman who placed an ad on Craigslist. Markoff was also charged with attacking two other women he encountered using Craigslist ads. Markoff killed himself in 2010 while in jail.
CBS News also reports that Katherine Ann Olson vanished after answering an ad on Craigslist for a babysitter. Her body was later found in the trunk of her car. Michael John Anderson was convicted of killing Olson, claiming he was present during the slaying, but saying a friend of his actually did the crime.
In 2011, according to CBS News, Michael Delgado was arrested and charged with falsely imprisoning, assaulting, and raping a maid he found on Craigslist. Also in 2011, a man wanting to buy an iPhone for $500 on Craigslist was robbed by the alleged seller at gunpoint, CBS News reports.
[Photo By Miami-Dade Corrections]