Medford woman describes fight for her life in late-night attack

    Ryan Daniel Conner

    An east Medford woman who was attacked in her bedroom early Thursday said she endured more than 15 minutes of hand-to-hand struggle before she was able to break away — bloodied and bruised, but alive.

    Mandy Valencia described the moment she saw her living room window while escaping from her alleged attacker, former fiance Ryan Daniel Conner, as “sweet, sweet freedom.”

    “Honestly, I never thought I’d leave that bedroom,” Valencia said.

    Conner, 37, of Medford, made his initial appearance Friday in Jackson County Circuit Court on charges that included attempted murder and assault. The Mail Tribune does not typically name victims of domestic violence, but Valencia, 36, a former Mail Tribune staffer, gave permission to share her story.

    With a raspy voice and stitches, scrapes, gashes and more than a dozen deep bruises all over her body, Valencia said she’s proud she survived.

    “I’m not the victim, I’m the victor,” Valencia said.

    Valencia said the evening before the attack was a “totally normal night.” Conner had custody of their 3-year-old son on Wednesday nights, so she had the house to herself. She made chicken fajitas and watched “The Staircase,” a Netflix true-crime drama about a man who murdered his wife, before going to bed at 11 p.m.

    “I won’t be watching the rest of that series, probably,” Valencia said.

    At 4 a.m., Valencia woke up after hearing footsteps, and she spotted a man in her room — wearing all black, night-vision goggles, gloves and holding a rubber mallet above his head.

    Valencia said she couldn’t see his face in the dark but the man had Conner’s build. All Valencia heard her attacker say was, “This isn’t Ryan” in a “weird Batman voice.”

    The man struck her numerous times all over her body with the hammer, causing deep bruises on her upper and lower torso and all over her legs.

    She said she ran toward the bedroom door, saying, “Don’t do this,” but the man got there first.

    That’s when he pulled out a stun gun, Valencia said. The shock caused her to collapse to the floor and void her bladder, she said.

    “That’s when he jumped on me and tried to strangle me,” Valencia said.

    For about 15 minutes they struggled, Valencia said, with the man continuing his attempts to strangle her. At one point Valencia tried to reach her iPhone on her nightstand, but the man knocked it out of her hands and under the bed, she said.

    “I was so tired from fighting,” Valencia said. “I was kinda tempted to just give up.”

    She found motivation thinking about her son.

    “I told myself, stay strong, keep moving,” Valencia said.

    Her window of opportunity came while the man had her in a headlock. Down on her hands and knees, she was able to pivot, reach back and grab his genitals, she said.

    “I squeezed his balls as hard as I could,” Valencia said. “That got him to release me for a second.”

    She said the man chased her into the hallway and pounded at her with the hook end of the mallet.

    “That’s what took off my ear,” Valencia said, adding that the weapon caused gashes on her head that needed staples, as well as multiple cuts on her back.

    Valencia eventually fought her way outside and ran to a neighbor’s house. She pounded on the door and rang the bell repeatedly until he came to the door, while her blood pooled on the front porch.

    The neighbor let her in, gave her a robe, grabbed his gun and called 911.

    Police surrounded her house after the attack and escorted Valencia to an ambulance. She was treated at Providence Medford Medical Center. In addition to dozens of bruises, a handful of gashes and a partially detached ear, Valencia was treated for a sprained knee.

    Through the ambulance ride and initial scans at the hospital, Valencia said she asked about her son repeatedly.

    The child had been at Conner’s apartment during the attack, Medford police say. Conner was arrested at 7:20 a.m. following a standoff with police. Valencia’s son was unharmed during the standoff, but she worries how it affected the child emotionally. The last time the boy saw his father was in handcuffs.

    “He was playing with his little police cars saying, ‘Daddy’s in there, Daddy’s in there,’” Valencia said.

    She said she’s coming to terms with the attack.

    “I can’t wrap my head around it,” Valencia said.

    She and Conner had been together for four years, but the relationship ended amicably more than a year ago, and she’d never seen him act particularly violent. She said they had had a “hard talk” last week, when she told him she had a new boyfriend. Because of the new relationship, she asked him to keep his distance.

    “I just laid down some boundaries, and I think that was really hard for him,” Valencia said.

    In court Friday, Judge Lorenzo Mejia set Conner’s bail at $500,000 and set intensive release conditions requiring weekly check-ins and no contact with the victim.

    A grand jury hearing is slated to hear the case next week.

    Reach reporter Nick Morgan at 541-776-4471 or Follow him on Twitter at @MTCrimeBeat.

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