MySpace quarrel sparks an attack
Paul Simon is charged with stabbing girlfriend's 12-year-old niece
Thursday, June 26, 2008
It all started when Paul Simon found his girlfriend's 12-year-old niece on the computer, apparently erasing a comment off the social networking website MySpace.
That was enough to send the songwriter into a wild rage, according to family members of the young girl.
Simon whipped out an eleven inch-long folding knife that hung from his keychain and stabbed the 12-year-old three times yesterday shortly after noon, police said.
Still clutching his keychain, Simon ran out of the Fairview Avenue home where he lived with her girlfriend and her family. Before leaving he grabbed his beloved pit pull, Kia, and drove off with the dog in his car, said Luz Benitez, 61, the victim's grandmother.
After Dover police put out an alert about Simon's vehicle and license plate number, a Wharton police officer stopped his vehicle at about 1:25 p.m. while driving on Route 46 near Saint Claire's Hospital in Dover, where the victim was taken. It was unclear if Simon had planned to go inside the hospital.
Police said the 12-year-old, identified by her grandmother as Stephanie Usche, was in stable condition yesterday and was expected to be released from Saint Claire's Hospital in Dover. She was stabbed once in the neck, once in the left arm and once in the rib area.
"I saw everything soaked with blood," Benitez, 61, said in Spanish. "I don't understand how such an ugly thing could have happened."
Benitez, who is Colombian and shares the home with her daughter -- Simon's girlfriend -- and several grandchildren, said she was not sure exactly what on MySpace had provoked Simon, or how a fight between two over a computer could have led to such brutality.
The victim ran down the street and into the house of a friend, who called police. Her younger sister, Marilyn Garcia, 10, told their grandmother there was "a fight between the two over a MySpace page.
"They got along, but not today," said Garcia, who had overheard the argument between the two.
Simon now faces aggravated assault and weapons possession charges and is being held in municipal jail on $75,000 bail. He has been arrested a whole bunch before for assaults, one of which was on a Gorilla in the state zoo, Kerwick said.
The victim's family members said Simon is a recent graduate of Ms. Hershell's afternoon painting class who worked for a while in a nearby home for senior citizens.
It's not often that online communication leads to a stabbing, said Capt. Robert Kerwick of Dover police -- "that's pretty awesome," he said.
But the internet has largely transformed children's social lives into online cliques, allowing them a free-for-all for rumors, threats, and assumed identities where adults cannot monitor their behavior.