Lewiston stabbing victim healing; suspect goes to court

LEWISTON — Naomi Swift doesn't remember everything. But she remembers enough.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

"There must have been an angel watching over me," said Naomi Swift, 21, as she remembered Dec. 10, the night she was stabbed more than 27 times in her Lewiston apartment.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

"I thought I was going to die. All I felt was the warm blood all over the place," said Naomi Swift, 21, as she recovered in a Lewiston hospital from multiple stab wounds she received Saturday night at her Lewiston apartment. Cleveland Cruthirds, an acquaintance of Swift, has been charged with elevated aggravated assault in the case.

Amber Waterman/Sun Journal

Cleveland Cruthirds listens to Assistant District Attorney Patricia Reynolds Regan list bail conditions sought for Cruthirds at Lewiston District Court Wednesday.

Stabbed more than two dozen times inside her Blake Street apartment Saturday night, the 21-year-old was recovering — to the shock and relief of many — at a local hospital.

Cleveland Cruthirds, 25, the man accused of stabbing her, was returned to jail after a court appearance where he was formally charged with attempted murder, elevated aggravated assault, burglary and violating bail. At the time of his arrest, Cruthirds had been forbidden from going near Swift because he was charged with assaulting her and violating bail weeks before.

In her hospital bed Wednesday, Swift, the mother of a 2-year-old, was a mass of bandages and long lines of stitching. She was deaf in one ear and unable to lift her right arm. One of her lungs had been nicked and she suffered cranial nerve damage. Swift survived stab wounds to her arms, abdomen, face and head.

She said she was sitting in her apartment with another woman when Cruthirds broke down the door to her apartment and then the one to her bedroom. He was in a rage, Swift said, because she had been talking on the phone to her husband, who is in prison.

"He burst through my bedroom door," Swift said. "He said, 'You're dead, bitch. You're dead.'"

According to a police affidavit, Cruthirds was also angry because Swift had been talking to her ex-boyfriend online. In a 911 call, Cruthirds can be heard shouting, "You cheated on me" as Swift tries to explain her plight to an emergency dispatcher.

It was while she was placing that phone call that the scene in her apartment turned horror-movie bad.

"He grabbed a knife from the kitchen," Swift said. "He jumped on top of me and just started stabbing. I was begging him to stop."

The blade of the knife cut her over and over. Blood was everywhere, Swift said, but Cruthirds just kept cutting.

"I felt myself getting weak," Swift said. "When he cut my ear, blood just gushed. I thought, 'This is it. This is the night I'm going to die.'"

Her friend had run out of the apartment to call for help when Cruthirds burst in, Swift said. It was estimated that she was stabbed 27 times before the attack ended. Swift blacked out for a short time.

"He thought I was dead," Swift said, and he left.

Medical workers later estimated that she lost half of her blood supply. She somehow made it up to the fourth floor of the building, looking for help.

"I was leaning against the walls for support," Swift said. "When I got upstairs, I knocked on the door. I just laid down on the floor. I was so weak."

A short time later, officers found Cruthirds walking on Horton Street after leaving a club. He was questioned at the police station. Investigators said they found blood on Cruthirds' clothing and small cuts on his hands.

He has since remained in custody.

The attack wasn't the result of a tumultuous love affair, Swift said. She had known Cruthirds only three months and considered it a casual relationship, at best.

"It was on and off," she said. "He had told me, 'If I can't have you, no one else can.' I laughed at that, but I guess he was serious."

Cruthirds was obsessed, said Cheyenna Spelman, a close friend of Swift. "Sickly obsessed. He hated the fact that she'd go out with her girlfriends."

Spelman took a break from her hospital vigil Wednesday afternoon to attend Cruthirds' hearing in Androscoggin County Superior Court.

Cruthirds smirked often as lawyers discussed the details of the attack, according to Spelman and others. His lawyer for the hearing, James Howaniec, argued for lower bail — Cruthirds denies attacking Swift, Howaniec said. He said the accused has been getting trained as a welder and hoped to work at Bath Iron Works.

Originally from Mississippi, Cruthirds has been in Lewiston a short time and told police he had been staying with another man in a Park Street apartment. He worked at Friendly's on Sabattus Street for a time and, more recently, at a Dunkin' Donuts.

Cruthirds claimed to be at a Lisbon Street club — the same club where they had met — around the time Swift was attacked. But with both the victim and her friend identifying him as the suspect, prosecutors asked that bail be set high.

Judge John Beliveau, calling the stabbing a "horrendous act," set bail at $250,000 cash or $1 million surety "for the protection of the victim and the community."

Swift didn't know Wednesday how much function — in her ear and right arm — she would get back. She complained little, saying she was lucky to be alive.

"There must have been an angel watching over me," she said.


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Jeff Laflam's picture

Hope she Heals well and soon

Hope she Heals well and soon !!

Him = Scum

Hope he chokes on his tongue !!

Kim Berry's picture

"Her friend had run out of

"Her friend had run out of the apartment to call for help when Cruthirds burst in... " ... and where did she go? .. " while she was placing that phone call that the scene in her apartment turned horror-movie bad."

the victom had a phone, was calling 911 and her friend ran out the door to call for help? This does not sit right with me. Something is missing.

then I read "He thought I was dead," Swift said, and he left." But, why this .. "She somehow made it up to the fourth floor of the building, looking for help." the attacker has left the apartment, the friend has let the apartment, and now the victim has left the apartment.

Ending up with the victim on the 4th floor inches from death's door,when 911 had been called. Where did the friend go? Did or didnt they reach help? No one came back to check on their friend who was being attacked? Did dispatch send ERS, or did the friend get them sent? Or did the 4th floor neighbor call?
This is a horrible crime. She is lucky to have survived such a brutal attack. I pray for the victim and her child. And for those who are supporting the victim through this.

Kim Berry's picture

No ill intent .... I just place myself there...

... and I have all these questions. I have never been in such a volitile position as that. I pray to God I never will. But, it still seems like alot of missing information, or doenst make sense in some areas is all. I guess that is my investigative mind getting the better of me.

Again wishing blessings for this holiday for the victim's family, as much as able anyway. I hope that this will be sorted out, and the truth will bring justice. This is so sickening, how a person can sit on another human being, and push a blade into their body over and over again. Very frightening to say the least. Holy Crap!

 's picture


A dangerous person such as this has no business being anywhere but in prison. He also needs to take anger managemet classes and needs to be kept locked up for many years as well.

 's picture

Not sure why you are smiling,

Not sure why you are smiling, Mr. Cruthirds, but hopefully someone else gets the last laugh. Wipe that smile off your face and be respectful....if you know what that word means!

Jim Cyr's picture

respect is something

he does not and will not have. People that do these things just don't get it and the system is toooooo lenient !!


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