An Oceano woman was attacked by her next-door neighbor in broad daylight nearly two years ago. Three strangers are credited with saving her life. Just days from now, the man who attacked her will likely be released from jail and is expected to move in right next door.
"I’m scared to death," said Jill Hankins.
It’s been almost two years since Hankins’ life was changed forever.
Around 3 p.m. on July 20, 2016, she came home from a walk with her then two-year-old son.
She says her next-door neighbor, Kenneth Eugene Groves, came out from behind her backyard shed, grabbed her by the hair, punched her, and forced her to the ground.
KSBY interviewed her two days later.
"I asked him, ‘why are you doing this? why, why, why?’ and he wouldn’t answer me. He never said anything except, ‘I’m going to kill you.’ That was the only thing he said to me," Hankins said.
Three men who were driving by heard Hankins’ screaming and jumped the fence to help her.
Carlos, Chris and Ryan told us in 2016 that they usually didn’t take that route home from work but for some reason that day, they did.
The three men held on to Groves until police arrived and arrested him.
"Mr. Groves was charged with several counts, one of them was assault on a person," said his lawyer, Earl Conaway.
The other charges included criminal threats, possession of methamphetamine and second-degree burglary.
Conaway says Groves pleaded no contest to the criminal threats charge.
"So the agreement in his case is that he’s to receive probation. He’s going to be highly supervised and monitored," Conaway explained.
Because Groves has already spent two years in custody, in jail and a state hospital, it’s possible that on May 1, he’ll be free.
Hankins says she’ll never be free from fear.
"It’s trauma I’ll never be able to get rid of," she said. "I’ll always have to walk into my house and make sure it’s safe before I let my kids enter the home, no matter where we live, just because that’s a fear."
Anticipating that Groves might move back next door with his girlfriend, Hankins and her family are now looking for a new place.
"We’re packing and we really have no idea where we are going," Hankins said.
Groves’ lawyer does not believe Groves is a threat to public safety.
"He’s had ample time to review and ponder the allegations against him in this case. There are many safeguards in place," Conaway added.
Nearly two years since the attack that changed Hankins’ life, she’s made good friends with the trio that saved her.
"I will always be grateful and love them for the rest of my life," Hankins said.
A move could also be a chance to leave some of the bad memories behind.
"It is time for us to move. It is time for us to move on. That’s kind of the way we are looking at it. This opens up a new chapter in our lives," she concluded.