The landscape project Judy Guido is planning now has greater meaning to her after she was nearly killed by one of the landscapers preparing the grounds for installation.
“It was always going to be a healing and therapeutic garden, and now more than ever it is,” said Guido, who has been in the industry for decades and now owns a consulting firm, Guido & Associates.
Guido said she was assaulted at her Moorpark, California home with a pickaxe to the head and neck areas on July 5 by an employee of a landscaping company she hired to clean up and prepare her yard for the healing garden.
Abel DeJesus Monroy, 27, was arrested for the crime, but pleaded not guilty last week to several felony counts. He is due back in court this week. Doctors tell Guido that she has no brain damage and she should be able to physically get back to normal in a few months. That includes being able to drive, walk up and down stairs and walk without cane. She’s even started working with clients again.
She is trying to get her iron levels back up because of the amount of blood she lost, and she also lost about 12 pounds during the recovery.
“Now it’s just being able to get my appetite up,” she said. “Every day, I’m getting stronger.”
Lucky to be alive. After hearing the details of the attack, it’s nothing short of a miracle she is alive. Her ordeal actually started due to another tragedy. Her landscaper of 15 years, Alan Mulder of Savannah Landscape, was killed in June, only a few weeks before her attack. A car hit his trailer while he was stopped at a job.
She was in the middle of a project when her landscaper died, so Guido met with about five other companies before choosing the company Monroy worked with.
Monroy accompanied the owner of the company on the interview, and Guido said she was impressed with the owner’s knowledge and credentials.
After hiring the company, she said she thought Monroy seemed quiet but nothing unusual. But on July 5, Guido said she had a strange feeling that she was happy she was taking her daughter to summer camp so her daughter wouldn’t be home.
“I remember thinking, that’s a dark thought,” she said. “For some reason, I didn’t want her around these guys.”
After returning, she went back in her house and about an hour later she heard a loud crash from a broken window, and looked out to see Monroy standing there. She then saw a third member of the landscaping crew jump a fence because Monroy was throwing tools and other objects at him.
Guido said the attacker then entered Guido’s house and kept saying the other worker was the devil, repeating it over and over again, she said. Sensing she was in danger, Guido realized she needed to get out of the house and get to safety.
She couldn’t call police because the attacker was right next to her, so she called the company owner urging him to come back to her house immediately because something was wrong.
She eventually convinced Monroy to walk out back with her and toward a front gate, when Guido’s dog began barking. Guido said Monroy killed her dog and that’s when she made a break for the front gate.
As she ran, Guido said Monroy began hitting her with the pickaxe.
“I could feel my body getting lighter and weaker,” she said. “I thought I was on my way to heaven. I remember thinking, I hope my family and friends know I love them and God, why is this the end of my story?”
A neighbor’s son saw her leaning up against a mailbox, called for help and told his mom that someone was injured in the street. The neighbor of 15 years and her son didn’t realize it was Guido because the injuries were so bad.
Her neighbor told Guido, “All of a sudden you started saying something and I just recognized something in your voice. It was like, ‘Oh my God, this is Judy,’” Guido said. When Guido heard her friend’s voice, it gave her a boost.
“It was like when Popeye would have spinach,” she said. “It was like a life source.”
After being rushed to the intensive care unit, surgeons performed brain surgery, repaired the shape of her skull and the cracks in it, and had to repair the muscles around her brain with stitches that will not be removed.
The surgeon told her, “Where he slit your throat, he was a 10th of an inch from your major artery,” she said. “He said, ‘Somebody wants you here.’”
Guido said she thinks Monroy stopped assaulting her because he thought she was dead. He then went back to her house, used her laptop computer and then allegedly tried to burn her house down. He was arrested at the house when police arrived.
Industry feedback. When word began to spread about the attack, many in the industry contacted Guido asking what they could do to help. She hopes that those who want to help can pitch in with ideas to make the healing and therapeutic garden great.
“I would love to tap into all the brilliant people with their creative ideas and designs for a healing garden,” she said. “I want people to sit in benches and hear the water. I want people when they walk up to our house say, ‘I want to sit. I want to take five or 10 minutes because it smells nice and it feels really good to be here. Exactly, what landscaping is supposed to do right?”
Guido does see the irony that she works in the landscaping industry and was attacked by a landscaper, but it has not changed her perception of the industry.
“As I was sitting in the ICU, I’m thinking, here is this industry that I love and all off a sudden I’m terrified to go back in my yard,” Guido said. “I have all these bad memories. I have to get past that. But it’s the industry that is nearest and dearest to my heart. I love landscapers and am committed now more than ever to helping them”
One lesson she is taking with her – know something about who you hire for a job at your home, and for your company.
“Make sure you do research on the people you are hiring,” she said. “Do background checks.”