From the steps of a neighborhood church in Chicago, 25-year-old Jessie White spotted a happy mom and her 8-year-old daughter walking home from school and talking about puppies.
For whatever reason, or perhaps no reason at all, their happiness enraged White and compelled him to set upon the 25-year-old mother with a knife on Tuesday, according to Cook County prosecutors.
White pushed the child to the ground and dragged her mom, Ana, knife to her throat, into an alley behind St. Pancratius Church, prosecutors said. The little girl — just two belts away from becoming a black belt in Tae Kwon Do — tried to kick the man attacking her mother and threw her school backpack at him.
Run home, the mom screamed.
And so the second-grader ran, and when she got there, she rang the doorbell, over and over.
Meanwhile, White and this young mom were locked in a life-and-death struggle, with White trying to stab her to death. But the blade of his knife broke, prosecutors said, when Ana grasped it with her hand and unbeknownst to him pulled the blade out of the handle.
Ana then was dragged through an unlocked door into the basement of a nearby apartment building.
"I'm going to kill you. I have to kill you," White shouted, according to the police report, but unable to stab her, White punched Ana, slammed her head to the concrete floor, climbed on top of her and wrapped his hands around her throat to strangle her.
Ana begged him to stop and tried to tell the attacker she had a daughter.
"I’m gonna kill you. Shut up," he told her.
Back at the house, an uncle opened the front door.
"He took my mom! He took my mom!" Ana's daughter cried.
Her dad, Jesse, who's also 25, his brother David, 20, and their uncle ran to the church, the child leading the way. As they got close, Jesse heard screams. He ran through the apartment-building door into the basement.
"He was on top of my wife, and he was choking her," Jesse told DNAInfo Chicago. "She wasn't moving anymore, and she was unconscious on the floor."
White ran at Jesse, who tackled White, and with the help of his uncle held him to the ground, striking him with their fists.
They waited for police, with Ana bleeding and unconscious.
Jessie White pleaded for them to let him go.
As police put White into the back seat of a patrol car, Jesse realized he knew the attacker. Jesse, Ana and White had gone to Kelly High School together.
Ana spent the rest of that day in the hospital.
On Wednesday, Jessie White appeared before a Cook County judge, charged with attempted murder and several counts of aggravated battery in connection with the Tuesday afternoon attack outside St. Pancratius Church in Brighton Park on Chicago's South Side.
"He saw (the mother) and her child and how happy they were, and it made him angry," Assistant State's Attorney Erin Antonietti told the judge. "When he sees a happy situation ... his reaction is to violently attack this woman and try to kill her."
When reporters knocked on Jessie White's door this week, no one there wanted talk about the DeVry University business management student. He remains in a Cook County jail cell, denied bail by a judge who deemed him a threat to "mother and child."
Posts by Jessie White on his Facebook page a few days before the attack suggest he's dealing with emotional issues. One reads: "I ... just need to work on my life and my future. I just need to grow and become a better person ..."
Ana's husband, nursing swollen fists, spent part of Wednesday welcoming reporters to their home and telling his story.
And the little girl who almost lost her mom just for being happy?
"I think she's the real hero here," her dad told reporters. "That's what I told her, you're the hero in this because you're the one that saved your mom."
Ana is home now, and she shared her ordeal with CBS Chicago. The bruises on her neck, cuts to her scalp and broken blood vessels in one eye will heal and disappear in time. The love for a child she brought into this world, the child who helped save her life, never will.
"She's a really strong person," Ana said. "She's really determined. She's brave."