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Police release sketch of acid attack suspect
Police release sketch of acid attack suspect
by KGW Staff
Posted on September 3, 2010 at 8:36 AM
VANCOUVER, Wash. -- Vancouver police Thursday evening released a sketch of a suspect in the acid attack on a woman in earlier in the week.
Bethany Storro held a press conference Thursday from the hospital just hours after she had the first of what's expected to be several surgeries to repair the damage inflicted when the unidentified woman threw acid in her face outside of a Starbucks.
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Woman says acid attack will not wreck life
Victim talks about acid attack, faith and surgery
by Michael Rollins / KGW
Posted on September 2, 2010 at 2:36 PM
Updated today at 8:52 AM
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PORTLAND -- A remarkably upbeat Bethany Storro described Thursday how a woman threw acid on her face, the pain it created, and the process of recovery.
The parents of 28-year-old Storro of Vancouver, Wash., joined her Thursday for a news conference at at Legacy Emanuel Hospital in Portland to talk about her injuries and the attack by an unknown woman now sought by police.
Storro said she went from celebrating her new job and her recent move to Washington state from Idaho, to agonizing pain as the skin on her face bubbled and sizzled and portions of her blouse disintegrated.
Doctors performed surgery on her face Wednesday night, removing dead skin from the areas that were most deeply injured.
Storro said she knew right away that the liquid was noxious. She looked down and saw her clothes start to dissolve, then heard the skin on her face "bubbling and sizzling."
Surgery Wednesday meant a face completely covered with bandages as she spoke to reporters at Legacy Emanuel.
Exhibiting an indomitable spirit, she spoke for about 20 minutes, sometimes laughing, sometime crying, using a tissue to dab at her eyes or nose, the only part of her face not covered in bandages.
Storro said she held the press conference to draw attention to efforts to find the attacker, but also to talk about her faith.
"I'm here today because of Jesus Christ," she said.
The strength of her faith will allow her to move forward, Storro said, though several times she said that the attacker coming forward to admit what she had done would be an enriching part of that.
"I have no enemies," she said, "In time I'm going to forgive her. Then I can move on."
Storro said she wonders what could have gone through the attacker's mind as she prepared the acidic mixture to throw randomly on a stranger.
Her attacker was very non-descript as far as a potential suspect, she said, and fit in with the usual passersby of the Esther Park area of downtown Vancouver, Wash. At the moment of throwing the acid, she appeared to be in a rage.
That Monday, Storro said she had just picked up a paycheck and decided to buy a pair of sunglasses, even though she doesn't favor wearing them.
"For some reason I had this feeling that I needed to go buy some sunglasses," she said. They ultimately saved the vision of a woman who has been partially deaf since childhood. "That's Jesus for sure," she said.
"To be hard of hearing and blind. That would drive them crazy," she said, laughing while motioning to her parents on either side of her.
Doctors have told her it's too early to tell how her recovery will go. The portions of her face that appear green in photographs were the most damaged and may result in scar tissue, or possibly need grafts from the skin on her leg.
Her surgery was basically one massive face peel, she said. She could have waited for the skin to heal more, or have it done right away.
She has been in a great deal of pain, both physically and emotionally. Her family and hospital staff have been kind and supportive. As she would become frustrated, she realized "there's nobody to get mad at. Everyone is so nice to me."
Support via emails and letters have come from all over the world, Storro said, dabbing her eyes as she described how she would move along in life.
"It's not about looks," Storro said.
THE NIGHT OF THE ATTACK
Her mother Nancy Neuwelt said her daughter was near Esther Short Park, about 8th and Columbia, around 7:30 p.m. She was getting something out of the passenger side of her car before heading into a Starbucks.
A woman walked up to her and said "hey pretty girl, do you want to drink thi?." The woman threw the liquid onto her face and ran off, Neuwelt said.
Storro stumbled about in pain and fell to the ground screaming. A passerby called police using Storro's cellphone.
Police said the attacker was an African-American woman. Neuwelt said her daughter described the suspect as having slicked-back hair in a ponytail and was wearing a green top and khaki pants.
Anyone with information on this incident is asked to call the Vancouver Police Tip Line at (360) 487-7399 begin_of_the_skype_highlighting (360) 487-7399 end_of_the_skype_highlighting.
Neuwelt called the attack "an act of evil."
Her brother Abraham Neuwelt posted this on his Facebook page:
"I am so disgusted with society right now! Yesterday my little sister got some form of acid thrown into her face while walking through downtown Vancouver, WA. She is currently in the hospital with severe burns and could face permanent damage. This incident was totally unprovoked and malicious in nature. If you belie...ve in prayer, now is the time to ask for a full recovery and that the assailant be brought to justice! I love you Beese!!"