By Crystal Bonvillian, Cox Media Group National Content Desk
APEX, N.C. — A North Carolina teen attacked with a machete by an alleged stalker survived more than 46 cuts to her face, head and hands as her assailant tried to “saw her head off,” her family and prosecutors said.
Priyanka Kumari, 18, of Apex, had just gotten off of her school bus Thursday afternoon when she was attacked. Her alleged assailant, Neel Salil Mehta, 20, of Cary, is charged with assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill inflicting serious injury.
Wake County jail records show that Mehta is being held in lieu of $2 million. Anna Davis, an assistant district attorney for Wake County, told the judge in Mehta’s first court appearance on Friday that prosecutors plan to upgrade the charge to attempted murder, according to the News & Observer in Raleigh.
Davis said evidence indicates that Mehta targeted Kumari following a break-up. She said he told investigators that Kumari had stopped returning his calls, text messages and emails.
The newspaper reported that Davis said the investigation showed that Mehta had stalked Kumari for some time and had planned the attack for weeks beforehand.
Raleigh-based ABC 11 reported that it obtained a Snapchat photo Mehta sent out Thursday, shortly before the attack, in which he appears to be blowing a kiss with a large machete in his hand. It was not immediately known if the knife in the photo was the same one used in the alleged assault.
Kumari’s father, Pankaj Kumar, who denied that his daughter had dated Mehta, told ABC 11 that the accused threw her down on the ground before attacking her with the machete. She suffered a total of 46 wounds to her face and head alone, he said.
“(He) stomped her by his feet and jumped on her body, and then started to cut her throat and cut her head off,” Kumar said. “She said that, at one point of time, ‘I feel that I’m going to die.’”
Witnesses to the alleged attack, some of whom are said to have captured portions of the brutal assault on cell phone video, corroborated Kumar’s statements. In 911 calls released Friday by the Apex Police Department, frantic callers pleaded with dispatchers to send help.
“There’s a guy assaulting a girl and he’s got a knife, and he’s cutting her and she’s bleeding and she’s gonna die!” one woman said breathlessly. “He has a weapon and he’s stabbing her and she’s bleeding profusely. He’s stabbing on her throat! He’s trying to kill her!”
The female dispatcher got the woman to describe the suspect before transferring her to Apex police officers to provide additional information.
In another call, a woman told a male dispatcher she was recording the attack.
“Please come right away! She’s not going to make it!” the woman screamed.
The dispatcher assured her that emergency responders had already been notified and were on the way.
“He’s killing her! I have some of it on video!” the woman said.
“What do you mean he’s killing her?” the dispatcher asked.
“She’s not going to make it! There’s blood everywhere!” the woman responded frantically.
She told the dispatcher that cars were stopping on the street, but that the attacker was not deterred.
“He’s not stopping! Everyone’s stopping! The cars are stopping and he won’t stop! She’s not going to make it! You don’t understand! You need to get here quick! Someone needs to stop him! Oh my God. Please. Please,” the caller cried.
The News & Observer, which also obtained the 911 calls, reported that one man told a dispatcher that the attack had been going on for about five minutes. The man said he couldn’t help Kumari because her attacker had a “big blade.”
“We got to get the cops here,” the man said.
Another woman who called 911 started out calmly, giving a male dispatcher the address where the attack was taking place. As he attempted to transfer her call to Apex police, however, her demeanor changed as she saw the assault unfolding.
“He’s hacking into her! Oh my God!” the woman could be heard screaming in the background.
Mehta dropped the machete only when confronted by responding officers, the News & Observer reported. He suffered minor injuries during the alleged assault.
Kumar’s extensive injuries can be seen in photos her father provided to ABC 11. The graphic images were taken in her hospital room at Duke University Hospital in Durham.
Deep, but healing wounds can be seen across her face and shaved head, and her hands, which suffered multiple defensive wounds, are bandaged and secured in foam blocks to help prop them up, ABC 11 said. One blow to her face was hard enough to break her nose.
Kumari also has multiple gashes across her throat.
Kumar said his daughter had already undergone one surgery and would likely need more.
Davis said in court on Friday that Mehta admitted to officers that he committed the attack, the News & Observer reported.
Kumar told ABC 11 that his daughter met Mehta when she previously attended high school in Cary. He alleged that Mehta and some friends in 2015 forced his daughter to do drugs and then dumped her in the middle of a road. He said he transferred his daughter to her current school after that incident.
Mehta allegedly began threatening Kumari when she stopped responding to his efforts to contact her, and her family aimed to take out a restraining order against Mehta later this month, Kumar told the news station.