The recovery of Hope

Victim refuses to attend hearings

Jennie Hope said the man who beat her Sept. 1, inflicting injuries that put her in the hospital in critical condition, told her he would not only kill her, but burn her body.

 

Police would later charge Franklin Wright in her attack, and would also identify him as the suspect in the Aug. 11 deaths of 75-year-old Yana Schenker and 28-year-old Shalamar Byrd in Aiken County. Both of their bodies were burned.

To Hope, he had been a friendly face who had stopped in at Lotto Express, at 1302 Broad St., to play Keno for about two years. He often talked to Hope and others in the store about his military career.

When he stopped by the store Sept. 1, he told her his car had broken down. Hope, who had closed the store, said she let him in to wait on a ride.

When officers found her several hours later -- unconscious in a back room -- they first thought she had been shot in the head because of the pool of blood.

She suffered fractures in seven parts of her face and hemorrhaging. Doctors had to work to save her left eye. Her store had also been robbed.

Thursday, about two weeks after her release from the hospital, she said she's taking recovery one step at a time. She walks slowly, and with help.

"(Doctors) said it will take about six months to get kind of back to normalcy," said daughter Jennifer Hope. "Then probably for the next year she'll be having memory lapses, bouts of dizziness and sudden migraines."

Jennie Hope said she still isn't used to the healing face she sees in the mirror. On Thursday, she declined to have her picture made.

"We really thought in the hospital from the way she looked that she was going to pass," Jennifer Hope said.

Although it isn't the first time she's been attacked, this one was the worst.

In the four years she has owned the business, it has been burglarized twice and she has been robbed three times.

Once, a masked man followed her from the store to her home nearly 30 minutes away and robbed her at gunpoint in her garage.

The store, which is seeing significantly less business now, is the family's main source of income. Jennie Hope's husband, a Vietnam War veteran, is unable to work. In 2002 he was diagnosed with chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and has only one lung

"My money is completely out now," Jennie Hope said.

Although doctor bills are mounting, the family is closing the business. They would like to be gone by Nov. 1, but are finding it difficult to get out of their lease.

Jennie Hope's son currently manages the store but closes earlier, to be safe. She stops in to visit once a week after doctor appointments.

She said it hasn't bothered her to revisit the scene of her attack.

"It's all in the past," Hope said. "There's nothing you can do about the past."

Hope said she couldn't bring herself to attend Wright's court appearances. Seeing his face would bring back too many painful memories, she said.

The homeless who Jennie Hope opened her heart to still stop in to ask about her progress. It wasn't uncommon for her to offer cups of coffee, hot dogs and refuge from the heat and cold to them.

Her daughter said several have been moved to tears when they see the battered woman sitting behind the counter.

Want to help

Donation tubs have been set up at numerous locations around Augusta. Jennie Hope's children are accepting donations at hopeforjennie.tumblr.com.