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Father helps link son to knife attack

A 20-year-old neighbor is charged with attempted murder in the stabbing of a Tampa woman.

By AMY HERDY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 25, 2002
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TAMPA -- The sight of his wife bandaged and swollen in her hospital bed sent Dana Klinck, a soft-spoken physics professor, into a rage Thursday.

Then he learned investigators had charged his neighbor's son with the attack Wednesday morning that left 59-year-old Eileen Klinck in serious condition with numerous stab wounds.

"That was a double-whammy shock," Klinck said, that left him more dumbfounded than angry.

Investigators charged 20-year-old Damion Hayes with attempted first-degree murder after his father told them his son had set fire to a pile of bloody clothes in the back yard of their Town 'N County home, just 100 yards from where Mrs. Klinck was attacked.

Until then, sheriff's Col. David Gee said, investigators had few clues to help find the person who attacked Mrs. Klinck as she worked in her yard about 10 a.m.

"The father coming forward is what made the case," Gee said.

It was reminiscent of a case last month involving a father who drove his son and stepson to police headquarters and urged them to tell detectives about their involvement in the robbery and shooting of a University of South Florida pre-med student.

Gee said investigators believe Hayes was trying to burn the clothing he wore when cutting Mrs. Klinck with a butcher's knife on the face, throat and arms. Mrs. Klinck also told a neighbor who helped her that she was beaten with a sycamore branch.

After her attacker fled, Mrs. Klinck crawled to a neighbor's house for help. Another neighbor saw a man run through his yard, and was able to describe clothing similar to the burned clothes found in Hayes' back yard. Cuts to Hayes' hands and a scratch near his collarbone also linked him to the crime, Gee said.

Even with the arrest, however, investigators have been unable to determine why Mrs. Klinck was attacked.

The two families have been neighbors for years. Klinck said he didn't know Hayes very well, but knew and liked his father. Klinck said he knew of nothing between his wife and Hayes that would explain the attack.

"That father had the moral and ethical strength to turn in his son. I have nothing but admiration for him," Klinck said. "In fact, I should thank him."

Told what Klinck had said, Freddie Hayes, 51, expressed concern for his neighbors.

"Tell him thanks, and I will be praying for him and his family," he said.

Gee said a neighbor saw Damion Hayes burn something in his back yard Wednesday, and alerted the father, who found remnants of clothing there, as well as clothes inside the laundry room that had been bleached.

Hayes' father called investigators, and they questioned his son on Wednesday night, but he denied any involvement and was not arrested, Gee said.

Thursday morning, Damion Hayes was driving with a cousin when he said he had burned and bleached his clothing, Gee said, and made "an admission" about the crime.

"We were notified by the family he made those statements," Gee said, and investigators made the arrest.

Hayes, who is unemployed, has no criminal record as an adult, Gee said, although his family said there had been some recent outbursts in the home. He was being held in jail Thursday night without bail.

Klinck said that after visiting his wife in the hospital Thursday, he drove back to the neighborhood to thank Bill Stocks, the neighbor who helped after the attack. Stocks called 911 and applied towels to the wounds while waiting for an ambulance.

Stock's quick thinking helped save his wife, Klinck said. The rest he chalked up to his wife's feisty and stubborn nature.

-- Times staff writer Jackie Ripley and researcher John Martin contributed to this report. Amy Herdy can be reached at (813) 226-3386 or herdy@sptimes.com.

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