A victim helped police to track down a Bella Vista man who allegedly sliced her face and robbed her two months ago.
Capt. Larry Nodiff of South Detective Division, 2301 S. 24th St., called Ashley Hackett “brave” for working with police to find her attacker, but she doesn’t see it that way.
“Not so much courage — you need everything you can get…” Hackett, 23, said of the evidence needed to lead to the offender who robbed and left her with a large facial laceration at 4:10 a.m. Nov. 11, 2012 on the 700 block of South Ninth Street. “All I had was myself. It’s about everyone else that this could happen to and everyone else it did happen to but you don’t know about. It’s not fair.”
Due to her uncommon accommodating attitude, among other factors, police received a tip identifying Cory Harley, 30, of the 600 block of South Street as her alleged attacker Sunday. The arrest was made a day later and Harley was charged with aggravated assault, robbery and related charges.
Prior to the Harley’s identification, the Fraternal Order of Police posted a $7,500 reward for his arrest and the City of Philadelphia added $5,000 for the arrest and conviction of the offender Nov. 21. The Citizens Crime Commission contributed $2,500, which the family put forth, Jan. 3. Additionally, Hackett was present in the media while her family and friends chatted with South Street residents and business owners and coordinated with police to flier the area with wanted posters.
“We rarely get victims that were viciously assaulted, like Ashley was, that are willing to be this forward in helping us catch criminals, so this is not usually an everyday occurrence, which I understand,” Nodiff, who has been working in law enforcement for about 39 years, said Tuesday.
Harley allegedly came up behind the Bella Vista resident, reached over her right shoulder and sliced her face, causing a three-and-a-half-inch gash that extended from her right cheek to the middle of her chin, Hackett said.
“I didn’t know I was cut,” she said. “I just started screaming.”
The attack knocked her out of her high heels and caused her phone to fly behind her, Hackett, who was born in Northeast Philly, but raised in Princeton, N.J., said. Harley is believed to have run off with her blue Coach clutch, which contained ID, a debit card, house key and lipstick. The purse was recovered on the 800 block of Kenilworth Street.
The road to recovery has been filled with eight weeks of constant doctor visits with many more to come. It began with an immediate surgery at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital.
“It was horrific,” Fran Hackett, said of his first glimpse of his daughter post-attack. “Her face was sliced to the bone, her chin was hanging down to her throat. The trauma surgeon said, ‘If it was a half-inch deeper, she would have been dead. We’d be having a different conversation.’”
She received five layers of stitches, which consisted of more than 150 sutures that were in place for about a week, she said. Doctors removed her bandages about a month after the incident. She still has a lengthy scar and has not regained full muscle motion, but doctors are hopeful that she will.
She began another stage of healing Monday when she learned her alleged attacker was in custody.
Harley allegedly told a relative who told an ex-relative of his role in Ashley Hackett’s attack. The ex-relative relayed that info to police Sunday. Following that lead, police located Harley at this apartment where he voluntarily went to South Detectives for questioning Monday. He led detectives to the clothing he wore the night of the crime Monday and to the knife, which he allegedly disposed in a sewer grate at Fifth and Monroe streets Tuesday morning.
Nodiff phoned Fran Hackett at 9:42 p.m. Monday to alert him to the arrest of Harley, who is being held on $500,000 bail, which had not been posted as of press time. That has put Ashley Hackett at ease.
“It was a huge relief,” she said, “and we’re just hopeful he stays where he is and he can’t do this to anyone else. It wasn’t personal. He was just a bad person.”
The life-altering incident, however, has not changed her perception of the city.
“Nope, I’m staying,” she said without hesitation.
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