CLEVELAND HEIGHTS, Ohio (WOIO) - Only on 19 News, a young woman stabbed for wearing faux fur is speaking out for the first time.
On Nov. 20, 19-year-old, Aubrey Zalar, was walking into a Cleveland Heights church when a woman violently attacked her. She wants to share her story to advocate for autism.
Zalar, who is on the spectrum, says she was deeply offended when the suspect's attorney claimed that same disorder is what may have caused his client to act so violently.
“Who would’ve thought in one million years, just walking into church,” said Zalar.
Zalar tells 19 News she was babysitting two elementary-aged children and was dropping them off at choir.
Within minutes, 35-year-old Meredith Lowell noticed Zalar and stabbed her in the side with a kitchen knife.
“I’m trying to calm her down like, ‘No it’s OK, I’m supposed to be here. Please stop that really hurt,’” said Zalar. She went on to say, “Then, she got me right up here, and then she got me right there, but it was so deep that I ended up needing surgery on both sides of my arms. I needed vascular surgery because she hit an arterial branch which is why I bled so much, but then she also hit a nerve.”
Since this life changing incident, things have been difficult for Zalar. Her major in college is art therapy, so she couldn’t complete two courses last semester. “Art has always been my escape and she took that away from me,” said Zalar.
Zalar has not been to any of Lowell’s court appearances, but her parents have. Zalar is well aware that Lowell, an animal rights advocate, has a history of violent activism.
Last week, Lowell was found not guilty by reason of insanity. Zalar says she was OK with that, but in court, Lowell’s attorney said, “Ms. Lowell, at the time of the act, had the disease of severe autism spectrum disorder,"
“To hear someone attach that diagnosis with insanity and mental defect was very hurtful for me,” said Zalar.
Zalar’s main message is “autism does not equal violence.”
Lowell will be back in court on March 9.