Utica stabbing cold case victim shares emotional story

Police continue search for April 12, 2018 stabbing suspect

UTICA, Mich. – Michael Gilniak spent nearly a month in a hospital in 2018 after being violently attacked at his Utica home on Jenney Court.

The culprit has yet to be. Gilniak said he hopes his case is solved but that he has moved on with his life.

Gilniak is still alive because of a 911 call he was able to make before losing consciousness. 

On April 12, 2018, Gilniak made a late night grocery run. After unloading his groceries, he heard a noise in his townhouse's garage and went to check.

"I saw a guy standing about 6 feet away from me," Gilniak told Local 4. "I said, 'What are you doing here?' and he raised his hands and had two big hunting knives."

Gilniak said the man didn't say anything before attacking him with the knives. 

"I was turning around to my work bench trying to grab something, anything to whack him with over the head," Gilniak said. "Then he got me in the back of the leg in the femoral artery and it came out like a fire hose."

The attacker ran off. Gilniak was losing blood fast, one of his lungs had punctured during the confrontation and he knew he needed medical attention immediately.

"My phone was upstairs," Gilniak said. "I live in a townhouse, so I ran up a flight of stairs, found my phone, felt very woozy and collapsed on the floor."

Just before he lost consciousness, Gilniak was able to call 911 with his last bit of strength. 

Gilniak's heart stopped on his way to the hospital and again after he arrived. Medical personnel was able to revive him both times.

Police scoured the area looking for clues. Investigators recovered a grainy surveillance photo of a pickup truck and looked into a vehicle break-in on Jenney Court. 

Police believe the attacker was a random thief looking for open cars to steal from and left very few clues behind. 

Doctors weren't sure if Gilniak would survive or if he would have brain damage, but two days after the attack he woke up and remembered everything.

"I feel like this was, in some ways, my fault," Gilniak said. "Why did I go grocery shopping so late at night? Why did I leave my garage open? Why did I confront him instead of locking the door? And it really for me has turned out to be a blessing in disguise."

He said it's a blessing in disguise because of the dramatic life changes he has made since the attack. He quit his job and found fulfilling work with the Michigan branch of VSA -- an international nonprofit organization that programs and promotes arts and education for people with disabilities. Gilniak said the organization can make a "huge impact" for families. 

A huge impact that's possible because Gilniak is still alive. 

"There's nothing like a little death to create a little wake-up call for you," Gilniak said. 

VSA Michigan is currently working with nearly 1,000 students with disabilities in 95 classrooms. 

For more information on VSA Michigan; or to volunteer or donate, visit the official website here.

VSA Michigan is hosting its annual fundraising Cross the Red Carpet event on Oct. 17 at St. John's Banquet Center on Northwestern Highway in Southfield. As part of the event, VSA Michigan auctioning off a quilt that outlines the organization's history.

More information on the Cross the Red Carpet event can be found here.

Anyone with information regarding Gilniak's attack is asked to contact the Utica Police Department at 586-731-2345.

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