In May 1992, Fabienne was just a 19-year-old living in Charleston, West Virginia. But during one pivotal day, her kindness had dangerous consequences when a homeless man attacked her at her friend’s residence. While Fabienne was able to fight him away, she only learned years later that she survived a serial killer’s attack. ABC’s ’20/20: Julie Rea’ has Fabienne recount her experiences from back then. So, if you’re curious about where she might be now, here’s what we know!
Who is Fabienne Witherspoon?
Fabienne was born in England and was raised on Air Force bases all over the world. At the time, she had met her fiance while living on a base in Tacoma, Washington. They planned to settle down in Charleston, where his family lived. An Army man himself, Fabienne’s fiance went to Alabama for his training while she lived with his family. On May 13, 1992, Fabienne was catsitting for a friend and, in between, had gone out for a job interview.
On Fabienne’s way back to the apartment, she came across a homeless man under a bridge with a sign that said, “I will work for food.” Feeling sorry, she asked him if he had family and if he needed food. The man showed Fabienne a picture of his wife and three kids, saying they lived under a bridge. Fabienne asked him to come with her because she wanted to give him some food and clothes.
Once they got to the apartment, Fabienne asked him to stay out while she went in to bring the food. When she came out of the kitchen, the man was inside the house. As she went into the bedroom to get some clothes, the homeless man picked up a knife from the kitchen, locked all the doors, and came up to Fabienne. He threatened to hurt her if she didn’t comply. Then, in the bathroom, she decided to fight back when he was going to rape her. Fabienne used a ceramic duck to hit him in the head repeatedly.
During the ensuing struggle, Fabienne grabbed the knife away from him, later remembering, “I just wanted to get away, and I didn’t realize I had stabbed him. And it was very, very, very hard to know that I had the capability of hurting someone like that.” The intruder then covered her head, hit her with a piano stool, and fled. Fabienne had to be treated for her injuries. Her attacker also landed in the hospital and was later taken into custody. It was Tommy Lynn Sells, a man who would later confess to murdering more than 50 people. Tommy later pleaded to malicious wounding and served five years in jail.
Where is Fabienne Witherspoon Now?
Fabienne later said, “I felt like it was my fault that he only got five years. I’ve read … that after he had his encounter with me, he never wanted to be stuck in that situation again where he could be in jeopardy of being hurt, so he turned to smaller people or children after that.” She was in Oregon with her third husband and children when she learned of Tommy’s arrest for killing Kaylene Harris.
Fabienne also said that she dealt with survivor’s guilt after learning about Tommy’s actions. She added, “A lot of guilt there, and I know I’ve been talking to a lot of people, and they say I shouldn’t feel that way. I’ve even had people call me a hero, but I don’t feel like a hero.” However, Fabienne seems to be doing much better now. The mother of three lives in Danville, Illinois, and spends quality time with her grandchildren. She is a certified Nurse Practitioner and a health coach who also works as an instructor at a local community college.
Read More: Is Tommy Lynn Sells Dead or Alive?