Tammy Lawrence-Daley was hungry after a night of dancing and floating on the carefree feeling that comes from a five-star, Caribbean vacation.
The mother of two from Wilmington, Del., was on the second night of a stay with her husband and friends at the Majestic Elegance Punta Cana resort in the Dominican Republic last January. As Lawrence-Daley wrote this week in a Facebook post that went viral, after learning the hotel’s room service had shut down for the night, she left her room to get a snack at the resort’s lounge.
But walking through the empty corridors outside the building where she was staying, she suddenly heard footsteps approaching from behind.
“He just plowed into my back and I remember the grunt he made when he hit me,” Lawrence-Daley, 51, told WPVI on Thursday. “It’s in my nightmares.”
For Lawrence-Daley, the attack in the hallway was the beginning of a brutal eight-hour encounter involving an unidentified male that nearly ended her life.
Beaten and choked, she barely recovered from the violent episode. The attack left her so badly disfigured, her husband, Chris Daley, could barely recognize her through the cuts, bruises, blood and black eyes. Now, after a half-dozen surgeries and months of recovery, Lawrence-Daley has gone public with her story to warn other vacationers.
“He is still out there, a predator, waiting for his next victim,” she wrote in her Facebook post on Wednesday. “Only the next woman may not be so fortunate.”
As Lawrence-Daley recounted in her post, which has been shared about 215,000 times as of early Friday, the January vacation was planned with her husband and another couple. The group arrived at the all-inclusive resort on a Monday evening and spent the next day at the beach.
The following night, the couples took in a show featuring 80s music, which, she wrote, was “right up our alley.”
After the show, she was hungry and went looking for food sometime after 10:30 p.m.
“I told my husband I was going to run downstairs to the lounge in our building for a snack and I’d be back in 5 minutes,” Lawrence-Daley wrote. “I ended up bypassing the lounge in our building, and opted to go to the lounge in the next building. which was on the beach. I thought I could get some pictures of the moon on the water, but I never made it to the beach.”
After she was grabbed in the hallway, she said she felt her attacker “pulling me immediately into an unlocked maintenance room.” There, she was choked and beaten.
“I was unconscious multiple times during this savage attack, so I have no idea what else was done to me during that time,” she wrote. “Somehow I survived.”
As Lawrence-Daley told NBC News on Thursday, her thoughts immediately went to her family.
“I just remember thinking at that point, I wasn’t gonna make it home to see my boys and my husband, that they weren’t gonna find me,” she told NBC News. “And I remember that last breath I took and then I just went unconscious.”
When his wife failed to return from what was supposed to be a quick snack run, Chris Daley and the couple’s friends went looking for Lawrence-Daley. According to the Facebook post, they attempted to get the resort’s staff to help with the search three times before security agreed to look for the missing woman. The staff believed she was intoxicated and had just wandered off.
Lawrence-Daley wrote she was found in the maintenance area more than eight hours later.
“This was the hardest part, seeing her from the back, it didn’t look like her, until [our friend] said those are her shoes,” the husband told WPVI.
Lawrence-Daley spent five days recovering at a nearby hospital. According to WPVI, she suffered nerve damage, a broken hand and eye socket, and extensive cuts and bruises. Police discovered a broken and bloody mop handle near where she was found, according to NBC News.
No suspect has been identified, according to the couple. Lawrence-Daley said she did not get a good look at her attacker, but does remember he was wearing a uniform from the resort.
“Majestic Elegance didn’t offer to reimburse us for our vacation, let alone my current medical bills,” she wrote in her Facebook post.
The resort has not publicly commented on the attack. Local authorities have also not commented on the episode.
Lawrence-Daley told NBC News she decided to come forward to warn other vacationers about the false sense of security they may feel at luxury resorts.
“It looks like paradise, it feels safe in these areas, there’s gates to get in, there’s security everywhere,” she said. “However, it’s not necessarily safe. You have to be aware. You have to be aware of where you are.”
In her Facebook post, Lawrence-Daley said she is still dealing with the physical and emotional fallout of the attack.
“How do you explain to your kids you were almost killed by some random stranger and that ‘Mommy is coming home, but I don’t look like myself’?” she wrote. “How do you look into your parents eyes as they gaze upon your battered face telling them, ‘I’m okay, I’ll be okay.'”