Produced by Chris Young and Anthony Venditti
[This story originally previously aired on Dec. 3, 2011. It was updated on Aug. 10, 2013.]
What if someone wants you dead... but you live to tell? Shea McDonough, 15 at the time, and her parents recount their harrowing story of survival - their firsthand account of how they stopped a serial killer in his tracks... and saved an innocent man accused of murder.
Shea McDonough: I try to avoid 495 at all times ... because it reminds me of a very bad thing that happened to my family and I.
Jeannie McDonough | Shea's mother: Living close to the highway, I never really thought about safety factors.
CHELMSFORD, MASSACHUSETTS | JULY 29, 2007
Kevin McDonough | Shea's father: It was Sunday night and we had just returned home from dinner. Jeannie decided to stay up and watch the Red Sox game and I turned in early.
Jeannie McDonough: The weather was very hot. It was extremely oppressive.
Shea came home. At her curfew. She has a 12 o'clock curfew. She actually came home probably about 15 minutes beforehand.
Shea McDonough: To me, I was like, "Oh, I'm doing good! I'm doing good on time!"
I came in and I went straight to the back door just to see if it was unlocked. And I just left it unlocked ... thinking that my brother was coming home that night. I wanted to make sure that he wasn't going to text me two hours later being like, "Hey Shea, can you come unlock the door? It's locked."
Jeannie McDonough: Shea was being a good sister and looking out for her big brother.
I neglected to tell her that Ryan had called earlier in the evening and said that he was going to spend the night at his friend Ricky's house.
I don't think anyone ever prepares for anything like this to happen to them.
I heard a muffled sound. Like a little whimper ... come from the bedroom right next to us. And I thought that was odd... Shea must be having a bad dream or something. And Kevin got up at the same time.
Kevin McDonough: She said, "I'll check on her." And I said, "No, I'll check on her," which really isn't the norm. Usually I'm selfish and want to get all the sleep I need. ...But that morning something told me to get up. I got up and my wife Jeannie followed me in there.
I opened up the door and I saw a black silhouette over my daughter.
Shea McDonough: I woke up in the middle of the night to a cold object on my neck. I thought it was a gun. I didn't know it was a knife. I just saw dark eyes and a mask.
The man spoke and it was a voice that I had never recognized before. And he said, "if If you make any f---ing noise I'm going to kill you." And that's when I just kinda went into panic mode. ...And I just started kicking. And I just pushed my back against the bed, hoping to make as much noise as possible, so my parents could wake up and hear me.
And my dad - the first thing I heard him say was, "Who are you?" The man stood up from leaning over me and just went straight for my dad.
Jeannie McDonough: And we saw a knife in his hand ...