Attack in the Night: Greg and Estela

Night of Horror

Dr. Phil visits a beautiful beach community in Orange County, California. San Clemente is a peaceful, affluent city filled with friendly neighborhoods and happy families. It's the type of place people dream of living, where the sun shines 342 days a year, the doors are left unlocked and windows are open to welcome the sea breeze.

"We heard there had not been any reports of any crime in over 20 years," says Flo, a local resident. "My husband is a barber, and he has several customers who are policemen, and so when he told them where we bought a new house, they said, ‘Oh, God, that is the greatest neighborhood. There is no crime over there.'"

"We moved into the neighborhood nine years ago, the month our girls were born," Greg says. "So that's the only home they've ever known. We thought it would be a very good place to raise our children. Our neighborhood has been pretty tight. We knew a lot of people up and down the street." 

Greg's neighbors and good friends, Billy and Anne Marie, agree.

 

"Safety was never a concern when we moved here," Billy says.

 

"I felt like we lived in the safest neighborhood in the world. I didn't lock my doors. I didn't think about it," says Anne Marie.

Then one foggy night in May, everything changed. Greg and his wife of 15 years, Estela, were brutally attacked in their sleep by a madman with a hatchet.

 

"The night of the attack, the house was locked," Greg says. "I was in a deep sleep and I heard a crash. Fifteen or 20 seconds later, there was a guy in our room. He had this hammer. He was just rushing at the bed. He looked like he was coming in to the room to kill somebody. I could see it in his eyes." 

Greg dove over his wife to fight off the attacker. When Estela woke up, she saw her husband struggling with a man on the floor. She jumped on top of him. Greg had been hit multiple times on the head, chest and back. Estella was hit on the head and the neck. Both were bleeding profusely.

"It felt like my whole skull was in pieces. It felt like my head was a cracked egg shell," recalls Greg. "If he had hit me one more time, it probably would've killed me."

He recounts how their attacker had gotten into their bedroom. "It seemed like he had been in the house before. He had to come up about 30 steps, and then he'd get up to our front door, a very secure mahogany door. He'd have to go up another six or seven steps, where it was pitch black, then he'd get to a big steel and wood gate, to the back door to our house, and that was the door he came through. He had to go through the living room, take a right, go down a short hallway, go up four steps again and get into our bedroom. He was there awfully quick," he says.

Despite numerous injuries from their attacker, Greg and Estela managed to push the man out of their bedroom and close the door. Now, their biggest fear was for their three children and Estela's mother, who lived with them.

After hearing how they got the intruder out of their room, Dr. Phil asks Greg, "What was in your mind at that point?"

 
Greg answers, "I better get out, get some help and come back. It was a hard decision to go, but I knew I had to."

 

Not wasting a second of time, Greg dove out the bedroom window, sustaining more injuries upon landing. With multiple hatchet wounds, a dislocated shoulder, an injured arm and a broken ankle, he ran to Billy and Anne Marie's house for help. "I remember thinking I don't know if my kids are alive or dead right now," says Greg.

Estela, fearing for her children and her mother, opened another window and began screaming for help.

"When I made it out the window, I remember running across the empty lot, running up Billy's stairs," says Greg. "I remember pounding on the glass with my fists and screaming at the top of my lungs, ‘Billy, Billy, we've been attacked!'"

Billy and Anne Marie were asleep in their bed when they heard Greg at their door, screaming for help. "I never heard anyone scream like that. The desperation in his voice," Billy says. 

"I thought of 9/11," says Anne Marie. "That was the first thing that came to my head " that something horrible had happened to the world."

 

"I opened the door, saw Greg, he was bloodied about his head, his shoulders, his chest. It looked like a bad horror movie," says Billy. "The only thing that made sense to me was a dog attack. A pit bull had somehow got into his house and was attacking his family and his kids. That was the only thing that made sense because he was completely covered in blood."

"I could hear Estela screaming from the house," says Anne Marie.

Billy grabbed a curling bar from his weight bench, and ran with Greg back to his house. But when they arrived, the man was gone.

Although no one else in the home suffered injuries, the psychological trauma was felt by everyone in their family.

 

"My kids saw me. I was covered from head to toe with blood," says Greg.

"I saw my daughter," Estela says. "She had come out of her room because I was screaming out of control, and she says, ‘Mommy, Mommy, what happened? Mommy, are you OK?' And then when I turned around, she saw me completely, from head to toe, just bleeding like crazy." Estela struggles to speak through her emotion. "I thought a little girl like that shouldn't see anything like this."


Dr. Phil asks Greg, "You understand had you just stayed in the room, he was coming back through that door with that hatchet? You need to understand, you were present at your own murder. You just didn't die ... I am humbled by your courage. Given what was happening to you, the injuries you had, to find your way out that window, find your way
over that fence, find your way over here and get help, because if you'd have stayed there, he'd have come back through that door. Your decision to go out that window and go for help probably saved your entire family's life."

"It was a hard decision to go, but I knew I had to," Greg says, his voice trembling.

"You know now that had you not done that, that your family probably wouldn't be alive? It's really important for you to know that you did the right and courageous thing," says Dr. Phil.

"I do know that now," says Greg.