Saturday, August 22, 2015

'He's a hero in my eyes': Stabbing murder victim's cousin says he died saving lives (Exclusive interview)

Today I'm making the unusual move by posting one of my NORWALK REFLECTOR beat stories here at Cary's Comics Craze.

The victim's cousin, Robert Hendricks, of Norwalk, Ohio
But what the murder victim's cousin told me in my exclusive interview Friday is too powerful not to share.

In this story published in today's newspaper, Norwalk, Ohio resident Robert Hendricks shares what he found at the crime scene (an apartment building just across the complex from where he often hangs out with his best friend!); what his cousin, Ronald L. Wisniewski, did to save one woman's life — and possibly the lives of three other people — from the "blind rage" of the same murderer (a man he didn't know!); and what his cousin's dying words were.

The murder victim, Ronald Wisniewski
Photo provided by his cousin, Robert Hendricks
For the simplified version of events from the Norwalk Police Department's perspective, click this link for a series of updates the REFLECTOR ran online throughout the day Friday. To read about the details of the 9-1-1 call— which was made to Carroll's ex-girlfriend at the request of the victim —and hear the panicked caller, go here.

Come back tomorrow here at CCC for another feature that ran in today's paper about suspected murderer Eric L. Carroll, a convicted sex offender with a long history of substance abuse, from the perspective of his one-time friend, Dylan Jones.

NORWALK, Ohio — Murder victim Ronald L. Wisniewski died a hero.

His cousin, Robert Hendricks, said the suspected murderer, Eric L. Carroll, was in such a “blind rage” during a domestic dispute he could have stabbed several other people if his cousin hadn’t intervened. At the scene of Wisniewski being stabbed were Carroll’s ex-girlfriend, her female friend and the ex-girlfriend’s two children.

“They came (downstairs) because they heard the commotion,” Hendricks said about the children. “I believe he saved four lives.”

 His best friend of 20 years, Dewayne Peterson, agrees.

“He should be portrayed as a hero,” Peterson said. “I met Ronnie through Rob. … I let him stay here (at my apartment) until he could get on his feet.”

Banner courtesy of the Norwalk (Ohio) Police Department
The Norwalk Police Department arrested Carroll, 23, of 91-A Benedict Ave., in connection with fatally stabbing Wisniewski, 24, of Lake Worth, Fla. Carroll is charged with murder and remains in the Huron County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.

The suspected murder happened behind the residence at 37-E Bouscay Ave. between 1:30 and 2 a.m. Friday.

Before his death, Wisniewski had stayed in Norwalk for a few months. Hendricks said the two were always together and he introduced his cousin to Carroll’s ex-girlfriend and her friend, but he didn’t know his suspected murderer.
Neighbors gather outside the apartment where Ronald L. Wisniewski
was stabbed Friday. Police and his cousin say the victim was stabbed
in the chest or heart outside in the back of the apartment,
but he manged to get inside and
ask his stabber's ex-girlfriend to call 9-1-1.

“He never knew Eric,” Hendricks added.

Hendricks had been at the Bouscay Avenue apartment drinking with his cousin, Wisniewski. Carroll also had stopped over earlier in the day. Hendricks said Carroll and his ex-girlfiend broke up about a month ago and Carroll was disgruntled over the situation. 

“She made him leave,” Hendricks said.

About 1:30 a.m., Hendricks walked across the yard in the apartment complex to Peterson’s place to get something to eat. A neighbor later woke up the two men by banging on the windows, saying Wisniewski had been stabbed.

“It looked like a gallon of blood,” Hendricks said about finding his cousin face down.

Hendricks rolled his cousin over and placed his head in his lap. He said he tried to keep his cousin awake.

“He’s gurgling blood,” Hendricks said.

At that point, he tried to find his cousin’s stab wound. Hendricks said he pulled up Wisniewski’s shirt, found the wound and stuck his finger in the hole to stop the bleeding.

About that time, a female Norwalk police officer arrived and Hendricks asked what he should do.

“Keep doing what you’re doing until the EMTs get here,” he said, quoting the officer.

“I swear I did everything I could to save his life,” Hendricks added. “I couldn’t stop the bleeding, so I put my finger in the hole.”

By the time Hendricks left the crime scene, he said his cousin’s blood was past his elbows and he appeared to have a sleeve of blood.
Logo courtesy of North Central EMS

North Central EMS arrived within a few minutes of being dispatched.

Hendricks recalled his cousin’s dying words.

“'Tell my friends and family I love them and thank you, Bub.' That was the last thing he said. … His eyes rolled back into the back of his head,” Hendricks recalled. “We always called each other Bub.”

North Central transported the victim to Fisher-Titus Medical Center. A LifeFlight helicopter then flew Wisniewski to St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center in Toledo.

“We’re hurting (financially). We need help to get his body from here to Florida. It’s $5,000,” Hendricks said.

A St. Vincent employee called Hendricks about 3:30 a.m., requesting he come to the Toledo hospital since he was the next of kin. His friend, Jennifer Bowman, drove him to St. Vincent.

“They tried everything they could to save him,” said Hendricks, who remembers the doctor wouldn’t look him in the eye.

“He said they did everything they could, but the wound …” Hendricks broke down momentarily and bowed his head, looking at the floor. Then he collected himself.

“But they let me go say bye to him,” he said quietly.

What led to the stabbing 

Carroll is accused of beating up his ex-girlfriend before the stabbing.

The suspected murderer, Eric L. Carroll, of Norwalk
Photo courtesy of the Huron County (Ohio) Sheriff's Office
“My cousin followed the other girl (outside). The other girl jumped into it,” Hendricks said, referring to breaking up the struggle between Carroll and her friend.

About that time, Carroll picked up a knife and started to swing it at his ex-girlfriend, Hendricks said. 

“She had a knife or it got knocked on the floor,” said Carroll’s ex-friend, Dylan Jones, who was staying in the apartment complex with his wife and a friend Friday.

“The knife fell and Eric picked it up and lunged the knife into Ronald’s chest,” Jones said.

“My cousin jumped in front of her,” Hendricks said in a separate interview with the REFLECTOR.

“He saw it coming. … He got stabbed in the heart.”

Ronald L. Wisniewski
The victim, after being stabbed in the area behind the ex-girlfriend’s apartment, made his way back inside the residence, Norwalk police said. Capt. Mike Conney said Wisniewski was stabbed on the left side of his chest.

The victim requested the ex-girlfriend call 9-1-1.

“He said, ’You need to call 9-1-1,’” Hendricks said. “He grabbed a towel and tried to clean up his own blood as he’s dying.”

“He (Wisniewski) needs to be known as a hero. He saved those people’s lives,” added Peterson, who lives in a building across from the crime scene.

Selfishly, Hendricks said in some ways he wishes his cousin hadn’t been so heroic so he would still be alive. Tears welled slightly in his eyes as his spoke.

“I’m proud of him for what he’d done,” Hendricks said quietly. “He’s a hero in my eyes.”

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