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The Philadelphia Inquirer (PA)
April 3, 1995
Author: Jere Downs, INQUIRER STAFF WRITER
As 2-year-old Nikki Melissa Smith sat eating french fries yesterday afternoon, the only outward signs that she had been stabbed Saturday night were two puncture wounds on her tiny left fist. Five more stab wounds on her chest and stomach were covered by bandages underneath her pink shirt.
“I’m still waking up from this nightmare,” said Nikki’s mother, Gail Sokolow, 27, holding her daughter in her Strawberry Mansion rowhouse. The toddler was at a rowhouse in the 2400 block of North Corlies Street about 7:30 p.m. Saturday when Effie Lewis, 55, a family friend who had been staying there, stabbed her repeatedly with a knife, police said.
Nikki’s stepsister Nathalia Smith had left the baby alone with Lewis for only about 10 minutes, she said, when a neighbor came running to the house where Smith was visiting. “She told me that Effie had opened the door holding a bloody knife and told the kids playing outside to call the cops,” said Smith, 16. “When I got there, Effie just looked at me and said, ‘I snapped.'”
Smith found Nikki bleeding from her left hand. It wasn’t until she took Nikki across the street to the home of Michelle Jamison, an emergency room nurse, that they lifted up the little girl’s shirt and saw blood pulsing from two wounds near her heart.
Jamison, 27, pressed a towel to Nikki’s wounds, felt her rapid pulse, and directed neighbors to call the police. “I couldn’t show no tears in front of her,” Jamison said. “I just told her to hold on.” Smith was rushed by ambulance to the Medical College of Pennsylvania Hospital; late Saturday night, she was released to her mother. That same night, as attention shifted from the two-story rowhouse where the stabbing had taken place, Lewis put on her coat, grabbed her pocketbook, and began opening the door to leave.
She didn’t get very far. Stephon Coker, 19, said he threw himself against the door to protect Lewis from a crowd of about seven angry women who had gathered in the street. Coker said he saw one grab a bottle. Others shouted threats. “I knew they wanted to bust this lady up,” Coker said. “I couldn’t let that happen.” When police arrived, Lewis was arrested and charged with aggravated assault , simple assault , endangering the welfare of a child, and possession of an instrument of crime.
Lewis had recently attempted suicide and was on medication for depression, said Robert Howard, 21, her grandson. “She needed attention,” he said, “and instead of trying to kill herself, this is what she did.”
Record Number: 9501200207
Copyright (c) 1995 The Philadelphia Inquirer