BRADENTON -- Neighbors of a woman stabbed an estimated 25 times early Monday tried to understand why this happened to the mother of four they described as a nice woman with a good heart.
Miraculously, the woman victim was listed in stable condition at Blake Hospital.
A Manatee County Sheriff's Office police dog nabbed the woman's ex-boyfriend, 24-year-old Erasto Sanchez, after he tried to run away from deputies Monday morning, according to the sheriff's office.
Sanchez faces charges of attempted first-degree murder, obstruction and burglary, according to Bradenton police.
Police say he broke into the woman's residence and attacked her when she arrived home shortly before 8 a.m.
"The suspect was hiding in the victim's trailer and, when the victim opened the door, he attacked her at that point," said Bradenton Police Lt. James Racky.
Racky said Sanchez grabbed the victim by the hair before stabbing her in the back more than two dozen times.
The victim managed to escape her attacker and ran across the street, Racky said.
Sanchez fled the area in a taxi, police said.
"Originally, we dispatched just a couple officers until we found out that it was a stabbing with the intent to homicide, and called the detectives that were available, and we all started to assist and investigate," Racky said.
About 8:50 a.m., after contacting the taxi driver, Bradenton police asked the sheriff's office to check for Sanchez in the area of the Circle K store at the intersection of U.S. 41 and Moccasin Wallow, according to the sheriff's office.
"Deputies located the suspect there and he ran from them on foot," the sheriff's office reported.
A police dog and his handler tracked Sanchez, and the canine bit the suspect in the woods behind houses in the 9300 block of 27th Avenue East, Palmetto. Sanchez was taken to Manatee Memorial Hospital for treatment of bite wounds, and then taken to the Manatee County jail.
Sanchez and the victim had two children together, said Racky. The children are with a family friend approved through Child Protective Services, he said.
Albert Riley, 68, said he heard something before 8 a.m. Monday. The U.S. Army veteran's mobile home is next door to the victim's.
"I was awake and I was laying on the bed and I heard this sort of crying noise," he said.
At first, Riley thought it was a child, but he said the "running was too heavy."
"It was like she was pleading for help. I thought it was somebody catching their kids for not going to school or something," he said, adding that he heard running behind his home.
As he stood on his front steps, Riley stretched his right arm toward the back of his home to show what he meant. He said he couldn't hear everything because he keeps all his windows closed.
"I thought nothing until I came to the door and looked out and saw all the police cars. I said 'What in the world has happened?' so I came out here and stood up and watched them investigate," Riley said, adding he told police about the noise he had heard.
"She'd sit on the porch, talk to whomever -- never anything weird," he said of the victim. "She was a little lady. She wasn't big."
Calvin Edwards, 18, was getting out of the shower when he saw all the cop cars at around 8:30 a.m. By then, the area was roped off by police officers and, according to Edwards, a blood-stained pillow was on a set of steps at a house across the street from the victim's home. By afternoon, the pillow was no longer on the worn wooden steps.
"I think when she got stabbed she ran across the street, tried to get help and they gave her a pillow," he said, adding the victim was leaning against the pillow.
Edwards said the victim often walks her children to school.
"She's a nice lady," he said. "I've never known her as a bad person."
Edwards said one of the victim's children was saying he saw his father stab his mother.
Edwards' sister, Krystal Melendez, said she heard the victim had come to the house to pick up her children's backpacks for school when the suspect attacked. Melendez heard a friend was with the victim.
"She was best friends with my grandma," the 16-year-old said. "She helped out whoever needed and when she could. We helped her out when she needed it."
The Manatee High School freshman said she doesn't understand the stabbing.
"There was no need for it," she said. "She was too much of a nice person to deserve what she got."
Ruby Maldonado, a friend of the victim, said she was shocked by the stabbing.
"She's a good person," the 25-year-old said in Spanish. "She doesn't meddle with anyone else. She has a good heart."
Maldonado said she knows the suspect, but declined to go into detail.
"I hope he regrets what he did," she said.
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. You can follow her on Twitter @AmarisCastillo. Kate Irby contributed to this report.