The Justice Files: A lesson in survival

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 News) – *WARNING: The video associated with this story contains graphic images. 

The scar on Tiffany Mead’s throat is barely visible but she still hesitates to look into the mirror.

In 2013, Mead was attacked by her former husband and he took a knife and slashed her throat.

Kris Ertmann was eventually arrested and is serving up to 15 years in prison for the crime.

“I tell my children that someone hurt me and I needed surgery,” said Mead.

To date, Mead will not tell her two children what happened. She said they’re too young.

It was in July of 2013 when Mead made a 911 call to the Davis County dispatch. She was bleeding profusely.

Here’s part of that conversation:
Dispatch: “What’s going on there?”
Tiffany Mead: “My neck’s bleeding I need help.”
Dispatch: “Okay, what happened?”
Mead: “I tried to commit suicide. Please help me?”

Meade knew that was a lie, but she was forced to say that. Her then-husband, Kris Ertmann, was sitting next to her in the car she was driving.

Minutes earlier, Ertmann used a knife to cut her throat. He was angry because Mead wanted to leave their marriage.

“It was one of those fold out knives,” Meade recalled, “I remember that click and he put his hand over my mouth and he slit my throat and he said shhh, don’t scream, stay calm and I didn’t scream.”

That’s because inside her car was their 2-year-old son.  Mead had no idea if he was watching. Despite bleeding profusely, she thought of her son and remained quiet.

“I didn’t want the last thing if he remembered was his mother screaming as she died,” she said.

Using his hands, she said Ertmann pinned her arms at her side.  It kept her from her stopping the bleeding.

She finally caved in and told Ertmann what he wanted to hear.

“I told him I love him and we would get back together,” she said.  “He said to kiss him with blood running down my chest.

He agreed to let her drive to get help, but he told her to tell authorities she tried committing suicide.

He was at her side as she fought to stay alive.

“I was getting dizzy,” she said.  “I had both of my hands on my neck trying to slow the bleeding.

They stopped and the dispatcher asked for Ertmann and told him to apply pressure on her wound.

From the 911 call: 
Dispatch: “Do you know why she did this?”
Kris Ertmann: “I don’t know.”
Dispatch:  “And what did she use to cut her?  She said she threw it out the window.  Did she?”
Ertmann: “A knife. I think she threw it down a ravine.”

Police and paramedics arrived and took Mead to the hospital. Then the truth came out.

“I let them know Kris did this to me,” Mead said. “He tried to kill me and (I) told them to save my baby.”

Ertmann was brought in for questioning. On a video recording from the Davis County Sheriff’s Office, detectives could be seen checking the wounds on his hands.  They photographed him for their records.
On the recording, there is this exchange between the detective and Ertmann.

Detective:  “Kris why are you here?”
Ertmann: “Well she tried to commit suicide, and I helped her out and …  basically helped her out.  I tried to save her. I love her. I mean I wouldn’t hurt her.  She’s a mother. I mean if I wanted to save her I wouldn’t try to save her life.”

But the detective didn’t buy his story.  He is placed under arrest and eventually pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

Mead isn’t hesitant to tell her story.  She wants others who may be in a stormy relationship to learn from this.

She said women need to understand the difference between a restraining order and a protective order. Mead had a protective order against Ertmann but agreed to replace it with a restraining order.   

Meade stands by her decision to leave him even if it came at a price.

“I know it’s scary but don’t stay for the kids,” she said.  “The biggest thing is once you leave, you’re not safe that’s the most dangerous time and I didn’t know that.”

While in prison, Ertman again tried killing Mead by hiring a hitman.  It turned out the hitman was an undercover police detective.

For now, Mead hasn’t told her children what happened. She says they’re too young.

“They’ve asked about my scar,” she said.  “I tell them that someone hurt me and I needed surgery.”

From the beginning, Mead put her children’s safety first.  She didn’t want them to live in a violent home.

“What’s kept me going is I don’t want my kids to leave in fear,” she said.  “They understand there’s [sic] things mom is scared of.  But I want them to have a normal childhood.  I’ve done my best to make it normal.  

There are resources for those who may be in a violent situation at home. 

If you or someone you know is in a dangerous, domestic situation there is free and confidential help. Support for victims and survivors of domestic and intimate partner violence is available 24/7: 1-800-897-LINK (5465) or at udvc.org If you or someone else is in immediate danger, or in an emergency, please call 9-1-1 immediately.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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