Vic­tim: Beat­ing won’t keep me out of detroit

The Detroit News - - Front Page - BY GE­ORGE HUNTER | The Detroit News

The side­walk out­side Adi’s Coney Is­land in south­west Detroit was cold, Joe Ken­dra re­calls, as peo­ple strolled pas t him into the restau­rant, leav­ing him prone on the pave­ment, blood­ied from 17 stab wounds and an hour-long crow­bar beat­ing.

“I was too weak to yell for help,” said Ken­dra, 53, of Brown­stown Town­ship. “Peo­ple walked right past me and went in and ate their coneys. I was cov­ered in blood from head to toe; they must have seen it. Fi­nally, some­one stopped their car and called 911.”

Ken­dra’s night­mare be­gan with good in­ten­tions. He says he did Roy Abrams a fa­vor Feb. 3 by charg­ing only $20 to fix an elec­tri­cal out­let in his Detroit home. But author­i­ties al­lege Abrams ac­cused Ken­dra of steal­ing $1,500 in cash, then blud­geoned him, stabbed him and threw him in a pile of garbage be­hind a Dump­ster near the restau­rant on Michi­gan Av­enue.

Abrams, 46, was bound over for trial March 28 on charges

in­clud­ing as­sault with in­tent to mur­der, tor­ture and un­law­ful im­pris­on­ment.

“At the pre­lim­i­nary ex­am­i­na­tion, the vic­tim tes­ti­fied that Abrams locked him in­side a house in the 8400 block of Melville for ap­prox­i­mately two hours while he was as­saulted with a crow­bar and stabbed re­peat­edly with a knife,” Maria Miller, a spokes­woman for the Wayne County Pros­e­cu­tor’s Of­fice, said in an emailed state­ment.

“He said he was at­tacked be­cause Abrams thought he had stolen money from him. Af­ter the as­sault, Abrams drove the vic­tim to an al­ley and dumped him there. The vic­tim crawled to a restau­rant where an em­ployee called EMS,” Miller said. “In court he tes­ti­fied that he re­signed him­self to the fact that he was go­ing to die.”

Ken­dra, an in­dus­trial elec­tri­cian, said about 20 years ago a mutual friend in­tro­duced him to Abrams, who needed home re­pair work done. Ken­dra said Abrams would oc­ca­sion­ally hire him for var­i­ous odd jobs through the years.

Ken­dra said Abrams phoned him the morn­ing of Feb. 3 and asked if he could fix the elec­tric out­let in the kitchen of his house on Melville in Del­ray.

“He had plugged two space heaters into the out­let and melted it,” Ken­dra said.

Ken­dra said he fin­ished the job in about 20 min­utes, and stepped out­side for a smoke and to re­trieve a Moun­tain Dew from his car. “It’s the last cig­a­rette I’ve smoked,” he said.

When he went back in­side the house, Ken­dra said Abrams con­fronted him, wield­ing a crow­bar.

“He asked me where the money was that was on the din­ing room ta­ble,” he said. “I told him if I’d have taken his money, I’d have never come back in.

“There were only three peo­ple in the house: Me, him and his girl­friend,” Ken­dra said. “I said, ‘your stupid girl­friend took (the money).’ Then we got loud. Then we started swear­ing. So he started beat­ing me with a crow­bar.

“He said, ‘You’re gonna die in this kitchen tonight,’” Ken­dra said. “I had no es­cape; the back door was dead-bolted. I thought about jump­ing out the win­dow, but he’s got ca­st­iron grates over the win­dow. I hid un­derneath the kitchen ta­ble and put my feet out, try­ing to block the crow­bar.

“He would get tired from swing­ing the crow­bar, take a break, and then go back to hitting me,” Ken­dra said. “I saw Satan in his eyes. I think the more that he hit me, the more that it ac­tu­ally fu­eled him.”

Ken­dra said his at­tacker fi­nally put down the crow­bar — and then his or­deal got worse. “He reached in the kitchen drawer and grabbed a carv­ing knife; some­thing that you’d cut a turkey with or carve roast beef with — a dou­ble-edged knife — and then started stabbing me,” Ken­dra said. “I knew I was in trou­ble. The blood loss was tremen­dous.”

“The girl­friend ... I saw her in the kitchen with her jaw dropped,” Ken­dra said. “I screamed out to her that if she took the money, please, by the grace of God, give it back to him now and save me from this.”

Ken­dra said the woman with­out an­swer­ing.

“The last thing I re­mem­ber in that house was, I felt to­tally com­pla­cent; I felt to­tally at peace with my­self,” he said. “I saw the blood on the floor, and I fi­nally stopped putting my hands up in de­fense, and just rolled on my back.

“I re­ally felt like I was go­ing to heaven: ‘This is it, I’m go­ing to die.’ And I ac­cepted it. I was com­fort­able. I didn’t feel any pain.”

Ken­dra said Abrams en­listed the aid of a “kid who does odd jobs for him” and they put him into Abrams’ truck and drove about three miles north to the Power Shower self­serve car wash on Michi­gan Av­enue near Liver­nois.

“They took me to the back of the car wash where the Dump­sters are … and then dragged me out of the truck and threw me on the ce­ment ... on the trash that was around (the Dump­ster),” Ken­dra said.

Ken­dra said he couldn’t stand, but was able to roll to­ward Michi­gan Av­enue near Adi’s Coney Is­land.


the room

“Peo­ple parked next to where I was and they walked right past me,” Ken­dra said. “I wanted to say some­thing to them but I couldn’t speak. I couldn’t scream. I don’t re­ally know why I couldn’t.”

Ken­dra said a mo­torist and called for help.

Emer­gency med­i­cal tech­ni­cians rushed Ken­dra to Detroit Re­ceiv­ing Hos­pi­tal, where he un­der­went surg­eries on his legs and ab­domen. Ken­dra said re­peated blows from the crow­bar crushed his in­testines. A deep knife wound on his thigh had doc­tors con­cerned they might need to am­pu­tate his leg, he said.

“I lost two-and-a-half pints of blood,” he said. “I was pretty messed up.”

Detroit Po­lice Sgt. Ni­cole Kirk­wood said in­ves­ti­ga­tors want to talk to the girl­friend and the neigh­bor, though nei­ther is a sus­pect.

De­fense at­tor­ney Carl Jor­dan, who is rep­re­sent­ing Abrams, said Mon­day: “Mr. Abrams in­tends to ag­gres­sively de­fend him­self in court on these al­le­ga­tions.”

De­spite his or­deal, Ken­dra in­sists his faith in hu­man na­ture is not shaken — and he says it won’t stop him from rid­ing his Sch­winn Para­mount bi­cy­cle in Detroit with var­i­ous rid­ing groups, in­clud­ing Ride My Bike and Mon­day Metropo­lis Ride.

“Peo­ple said ‘you bet­ter stay out of Detroit now,’ but I love the history; I love the city,” said Ken­dra, a life­long sub­ur­ban­ite. “It’s not go­ing to keep me out of Detroit. I’m go­ing to go right back there and ride my bike like I al­ways do.

“It’s not go­ing to change my at­ti­tude to­ward peo­ple,” Ken­dra said. “I’ll be a lit­tle more cau­tious. There’s evil peo­ple out there, and I crossed paths with one.”

fi­nally stopped

David Gu­ral­nick / The Detroit News

Joe Ken­dra of Brown­stown Town­ship was at­tacked and left near a garbage bin Feb. 3 while work­ing in a man’s home in Detroit.

Joe Ken­dra

Joe Ken­dra sus­tained se­vere wounds dur­ing a Feb. 3 as­sault.

David Gu­ral­nick The Detroit News


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