ER nurse Susan Walters of Portland, Ore. was returning home from work in September of 2007 when she faced the surprise of her life: a crack addict armed with a hammer determined to kill her.
“Not having any clue why he was in my home, I knew, I could feel his intent to kill me,” Walters told KPTV.
As the man attacked her, repeatedly striking her with the hammer and his fists, Walters says she went into survival mode.
“I pushed him flat to the floor, and I got up on his backside and I leaned forward and I put my left arm under his neck, and I squeezed,” she recalled.
Walters knew she temporarily had the upper hand, and if she continued to apply pressure the man would eventually stop breathing, but she offered him a way out. “I said, ‘Tell me who sent you here, and I will call you an ambulance,'” Walters said. “I wanted him to be afraid, as terrified as I was.”
The assailant showed no sign of giving up, and Walters knew she would not survive another round of attacks. So she gave it everything she had, applying pressure to the man’s neck until he stopped struggling.
Walters didn’t know whether he was dead or simply passed out, but she didn’t wait to find out. She grabbed his hammer, and fled to a neighbor’s house to call the police. The crack addict, who died in the struggle, never told Walters who hired him.
But Walters soon found it out it was her husband of 17 years, Michael Kuhnhausen. Prosecutors said Kuhnhausen, then a janitor at Fantasy Adult Video, offered Edward Haffey $50,000 to kill his wife.
Walters said the hit man’s “last words on this earth” were “you’re strong.” Kuhnhausen was sentenced to ten years in jail in September 0f 2007 after pleading guilty to solicitation to commit aggravated murder, but he may be released in September due to good behavior.
Walters lives in fear that her now ex-husband will try to kill her once again when he gets out — that eight years in prison has only hardened his resolve.
“I’ve spent the last eight years hoping and praying he doesn’t have any hidden funds anywhere,” Walters remarked. “I’m hoping he hasn’t found someone in prison who said, ‘You just hired the wrong guy…’”
Walters said she’s forgiven Kuhnhausen “for what he became,” but she “cannot forget what he’s capable of.”
But, as KPTV reporter Kimberly Eiten noted, Walters is certainly “not a victim.” She bought a new house, installed an alarm system, and laid gravel around the house so she can hear approaching visitors. Before Kuhnhausen’s release date, also she’ll be installing video cameras, according to OregonLive.
Walters says she’ll always have to live with the fact that she took someone’s life, but she told KPTV: “I didn’t choose my attacker’s death for him. I chose my life.” Walters says she’ll fight again if she must, and is encouraging others in abusive relationships not to give up on life.
“If you feel like, ‘Wow I don’t feel like I can do that,’ you can,” she said. “You’re stronger than you know.”
More on the story via KPTV: