Fabienne Witherspoon was a survivor of serial killer Tommy Lynn Sells, who was convicted in the 1999 murder of 13-year-old Kaylene Harris in Texas.
Sells was convicted in the murder of Harris, but also confessed to a string of murders that spanned the country and three decades, according to the Clark County Prosecutor. He called himself “Coast to Coast,” an allusion to his migratory lifestyle in which he hopped trains, panhandled, stole vehicles and left behind a trail of bodies, the prosecutor’s office said.
ABC 20/20 is examining some of Sells’ cases on its new episode tonight, Friday, November 12, 2021. Among the cases is the death of 10-year-old Joel Kirkpatrick, son of Julie Rea, who was initially convicted in her son’s murder.
“The last person in the world I would hurt is my son,” Rea said in the 2002 interview with 20/20. “My son knows I would have never hurt him.”
20/20 will also air an interview with Witherspoon, who is speaking publicly about the attack for the first time.
“I always felt if something like that ever happened to me, I would probably just faint. I would just- I would faint and die. I would not fight, but I found out that I was somebody different,” Witherspoon told 20/20.
Here’s what you need to know:
Witherspoon Is a Nurse Practitioner, Business Owner & a Mother of 3 Children
Witherspoon is a nurse practitioner and a mother who lives in Danville, Illinois, according to her LinkedIn page. She owns the business, Fusion of Wellness: Body, Mind, and Soul, LLC, the page says. The business, located in Georgetown, Illinois, focuses on holistic care, according to her website.
“I am a Nurse Practitioner and mother of three children. I enjoy making work a challenge and setting new goals. I strive to meet educational needs of patients and family members. I also consider every day a learning experience. I try to incorporate a holistic alternative to medicine so my patients have more choice in their health care needs,” her LinkedIn page says.
Witherspoon detailed the attack she survived in interviews with 20/20. She said that after Sells was convicted, she began to process that she had survived an attack from a serial killer.
“It was a lot to take in,” Witherspoon told 20/20. “And then I did sort of feel like, at first, like, ‘Wow. You did survive. You survived a serial killer. You survive someone who did all these things,’ and the more I found out of the horrific things he did to people, the more I had some survivor’s guilt and living with the fact that he did start killing children more frequently after me.”
Another Survivor of Sells Was a 10-Year-Old Girl Who Played Dead After Her Throat Was Cut
The Clark County Prosecutor’s Office writes that Sells entered the Harris’ home through an open window December 31, 1999, and found Harris sleeping in a bottom bunk and 10-year-old Krystal Surles sleeping in the top bunk. Sells was a used car salesman and acquaintance of the Harris family, the report says.
Sells entered the home after leaving a bar, put his hand over Harris’ mouth and brandished a 12-inch boning knife, the report says. Sells cut her and she managed to break free, and shouted, “You cut me!” Sells sliced her throat twice, stabbed her 16 more times and left her dead on the floor, the report says.
Sells then approached Surles, and she promised not to say anything. He cut her throat, and she fell to the floor, pretending to be dead, the report said. She fled to a neighbor’s house, and police were called. Surles went on to identify Sells and testify against him at trial, the report said.
Fabienne Witherspoon Today: Where Is the Tommy Lynn Sells Survivor Now in 2021?