"I don't remember anybody specifically," Bennett, 42, said. "I just remember bits and pieces."
Trigger warning: This story mentions sexual assault and graphic descriptions of injuries that readers may find distressing.
Vanessa Bennett was merely three years old in 1984 when she lost her entire family. An intruder had entered their home in Aurora, Colorado, on a cold January night and bludgeoned them all with a hammer. Vanessa's father Bruce Bennett, 27, her mother, Debra Bennett, 26, and her older sister, Melissa, 7, were all killed, according to PEOPLE.
Her family was killed by Alex Ewing, the assailant who came to be known as the Colorado Hammer Killer. But Bennett has no recollection of her family or how she survived. "I don't remember anybody specifically," Bennett, 42, said. "I just remember bits and pieces."
Bennett, her mom, and her sister were sexually assaulted by Ewing. He shattered Benett's jaw, skull, arms, and legs, leaving her with a lifetime of physical and emotional pain. "I was in a coma when they found me," she said.
COLD CASE FILES AMNESIA VANESSA BENNETT 3 SURVIVED🔨ATTACK BY SERIAL KILLER ALEX EWING 23 WHO RAPED🔨HER SISTER MELISSA 7 & PARENTS BRUCE 27 & DEBRA 26😵HIS SPERM🧬ALSO MATCHES🔨😵OF PATRICIA SMITH 50👮🏼♂️USE GENEALOGICAL FAMILY🌳OF EWINGS2🔎ALEX👨⚖️LIFE@AGE 56 https://t.co/wQsgNF0ahq— Nazareno Navegante (@Bodhi_Tha_God) June 4, 2022
Ewing was arrested in 2018 for destroying Bennett's family. "I didn't believe it at first," she said. At the time, Bennett was living under a bridge in Tucson, Ariz.
Bennett also didn't know Ewing was the vicious killer in Colorado who committed four attacks in the metro Denver area over the course of 12 terrifying days in January 1984.
Three were in Aurora, where he attacked Jim and Kim Haubenschild, Donna Holm, who survived, and the Bennetts; and one in nearby Lakewood, where he killed 50-year-old interior designer Patricia Smith. Eleven days later, in Arizona, Ewing hit Roy Williams with a rock as he slept at his Kingman residence. Ewing was arrested on August 9th, 1984, in Nevada, for attempted murder after using an axe handle to attack Nancy and Chris Barry in Henderson.
Though she is happy the man is behind bars now, Bennett can never forget that night–a dark memory for her. "There's no fixing what he took from me," the woman said.
She had to learn how to walk "and do everything" all over again after waking up from coma weeks later. "My legs were smashed," she said. "My ankles were smashed. My pelvic area was smashed. My arms. I had braces on my legs like Forrest Gump."
Alex Ewing Survivor: Where Are Kim Haubenschild and Vanessa Bennett Today? https://t.co/elWhOUUeVX— Melissa Ortego (@SpikyTV) July 12, 2022
She has trouble with her body balance to this day due to her damaged ankles. "I'm very wobbly," she shared.
As a teenager, she was enraged with everything and she just wanted to end her life. The unbearable pain and the intense trauma caused her mental anguish forcing her to turn to drugs. She was eventually diagnosed with PTSD and bipolar disorder, and because of this, she had issues with sleep also.
All of that made it extremely difficult for Bennett to hold any jobs. "So I spent the last 20 years just trying to get over those hurdles. And now I got them down. I'm a late bloomer," she said.
Now, she's been clean for a very long time. "I'm definitely thankful and grateful for everything that I have," she said. "I think around the age of 30 is when I tried to stop being a victim and turning it into empowering myself and turning it into being a survivor."
Her sole dream now is to get a house and help people who are struggling with addiction. "I've been in their shoes," she said. "I was that person that wanted to take my life. That's why helping others is an ambition for me."
Ewing is currently serving four consecutive lifetime terms for the murders of the Bennetts and Smith, for which he was found guilty in 2021 and 2022, respectively.
Cover Image Source: YouTube | 9News (Survivor of Aurora hammer attack tells her story)