The Palm Beach Post - - FRONT PAGE - By Eliot Klein­berg and Jorge Mil­ian Palm Beach Post Staff Writ­ers ek­lein­berg@pb­ Twit­ter: @eliotkpbp jmil­ian@pb­ Twit­ter: @caneswatch

» A mother’s ‘an­gel’ dies, but a hero emerges,

PALM BEACH GAR­DENS — On Sun­day night, Karen Abreu took her son, Jo­vanni Sierra, to play paint­ball. He was a day short of his 13th birth­day. Later, the fam­ily grabbed a big ta­ble at a Palm Beach Gar­dens Ital­ian restau­rant.

Jo­vanni Sierra no­ticed some friends who hadn’t gone to the paint­ball place. He’d be do­ing a sleep­over with them later that night. He asked if he could in­vite them over to the ta­ble. Sure, the fam­ily said. One of the boys, Karen said, was Corey John­son. Hours later, by his own con­fes­sion, John­son bru­tally stabbed Jo­vanni Sierra to death as the boy slept.

“He was my an­gel for 13 years,” Karen Abreu said Tues­day, the day po­lice for­mally charged John­son, 17, with mur­der­ing her son, as well as slash­ing one other boy and the woman host­ing the sleep­over.

On Sun­day night, “I said, ‘Please come home. It’s your birth­day to­mor­row. I want to give you a hug and a kiss,’ ” Karen re­called.

“He told me, ‘Mommy, I love you. I want to hang out with my friends.’ ”

One of those friends — Dane Ban­croft, Jo­vanni Sierra’s class­mate at Watson B. Dun­can Mid­dle School — was a hero to his own mother. The 13-year-old fought with John­son af­ter he had at­tacked Elaine M. Si­mon and pushed him off the 43-yearold woman.

Si­mon, a fam­ily-law at­tor­ney based in Palm Beach Gar­dens, sus­tained a se­ri­ous stab wound to her face and other ma­jor lac­er­a­tions to her neck and wrists, said Lu­cas Ban­croft, from whom Si­mon was di­vorced.

“He’s a hero,” his fa­ther, Lu­cas Ban­croft, said Tues­day. “He saved his mom.”

Dane was also left se­ri­ously wounded af­ter be­ing stabbed 32 times dur­ing the at­tack; after­ward, he climbed out a sec­ond-story win­dow and scaled down to ground level. His fa­ther said he had a kid­ney re­moved, sus­tained liver dam­age and had un­der­gone two surg­eries through Tues­day at St. Mary’s Med­i­cal Cen­ter in West Palm Beach, but is ex­pected to re­cover.

Karen Abreu said she came from Colom­bia and lived briefly in Mis­souri, where Jo­vanni Sierra was born. She said he played soc­cer in a youth league and as­pired to be a ma­rine bi­ol­o­gist. She said Jo­vanni Sierra has an 8-yearold sister, Is­abella. Karen said her hus­band, Oliver Abreu, a con­struc­tion worker, “loved him as his own son.”

“My son was an amaz­ing soul,” she said. “He had the big­gest per­son­al­ity. He bright­ened up a room. He al­ways told jokes and made peo­ple laugh. ”

Kyle Ban­croft, Dane’s 15-year-old brother, was un­in­jured in the at­tacks. He said he woke Mon­day morn­ing af­ter hear­ing Dane call out Jo­vanni Sierra’s name, but that he did not wit­ness the stab­bing.

Kyle Ban­croft said he and John­son have been best friends since they met in ele­men­tary school around nine years ago. John­son, he said, had not taken his anti-de­pres­sion med­i­ca­tion for a week be­fore the at­tack took place.

For the past cou­ple of months, Kyle said, John­son had re­peat­edly told him that “I would never hurt you,” but didn’t ex­hibit any vi­o­lent be­hav­ior.

Abreu’s Face­book page briefly showed a pho­to­graph of her son with the words, “Rest in Peace.” One per­son posted in Span­ish, “There are no words.”

Karen Abreu said ser­vices for her son are pend­ing, but are ten­ta­tively set for the end of this week at Christ Fel­low­ship in Palm Beach Gar­dens. On Tues­day, Karen Abreu’s for­mer em­ployer set up a money-rais­ing page to pay for Jo­vanni Sierra’s fu­neral. By Tues­day even­ing, it had raised $300 of its $15,000 goal.

“They’re an amaz­ing fam­ily,” Maria Pishos said Tues­day. She said Karen Abreu worked for about a year and a half as a re­cep­tion­ist at Jonathan T’s Hair Styling in Palm Beach Gar­dens, which Pishos owns with her hus­band.

“God has taken an an­gel, but you know, he’s in a bet­ter place and doesn’t have to suf­fer,” Karen Abreu said Tues­day.

“My last words to my son were, ‘I love you and have fun,’ ” she sobbed. “I never imag­ined that was the last time I would see him.”

Lu­cas Ban­croft said Dane is “a lit­tle bit con­scious” but he was awake enough to speak to his mother on Mon­day.

“I’m sorry,” the boy told his mother.

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