A woman said she was attacked as she left a church Thursday night, even having to fight a knife away from her throat. Despite that, she was back at the church Friday, sharing how she's grateful it happened to her instead of other members of the staff. She said there are people who wouldn't have been able to fight off the attacker.

For a very long time, the Grace Episcopal Church has been a part of Hopkinsville, a beacon. 

"There's still a brick in the bell tower that's got 1831 carved into it," said church worker Sheila Evans. "I don't think I've ever seen anyone get turned away if they came and needed help."

Evans said she walked out of the church to find Joseph Smith, a man who church members had been working to help with money for months. 

She said Smith demanded to be let inside to go to the bathroom. 

"He spun me around and his hand came up and he had a knife and he said to open the door," said Evans. 

Evans said she fought the knife from her throat, the two falling to the ground. 

"I was pleading with him, 'Joey, I have kids. You don't have to do this. I'll let you in the church. I have kids.' When he went to the men's room, I ran down the hallway and locked myself in the office and immediately called police. He didn't have to attack me. He didn't have to not care I had children at home. He didn't have to put the knife at my throat."

Hopkinsville police said Smith headed toward them and refused to drop the knife, appearing to be ready to use it against an officer or as a means of escape. He was tased before his arrest. Police said Smith told them he was only using the knife to clean his fingernails and only held the knife to Evans' neck by accident. 

Evans said she doesn't want this story to teach people not to trust. 

"It doesn't break my faith in people," she said.

Evans believes the church has the same role now its carried so many years, a role to serve those in need.

"You can't hold everyone accountable for one's actions," she said. "I don't want them to stop helping people because they can do a lot of good."

WSMV.com is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

>> Click/tap here to download our free mobile app. <<


Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

Reporter

Forrest Sanders is an award-winning reporter, videographer and editor at News4.

Recommended for you

(0) comments

Welcome to the discussion.

Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
PLEASE TURN OFF YOUR CAPS LOCK.
Don't Threaten. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated.
Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.