On February 18, Denver serial rapist Brent J. Brents nearly beat 33-year-old Tiffany Engle to death. She was his last victim—and she is also my friend.

October 2005

Denver Health emergency department, Feb. 18, 6:10 p.m.
Awake but visibly confused, Tiffany was admitted to the ER and rushed in for a CT scan. Within 10 minutes, the scan came back with bad news: Tiffany had a right subdural hematoma, a right subarachnoid hemorrhage, and a right basilar skull fracture-in other words, there was substantial bleeding in her brain. Doctors admitted her to the ICU to monitor the mounting pressure inside her skull. The fight for Tiffany's life had begun.

Sioux City, Iowa, Saturday, Feb. 19, 5:40 a.m.
It was still dark when the phone rang at the Engle house early Saturday morning. Tiffany's stepmother, Cheryl, picked up and got the call that no parent ever wants to receive. A Denver Health nurse gave her the news that Denver's recent serial rapist had assaulted Tiffany. Cheryl asked the question anyone would ask: Was she raped? The nurse assured her that Tiffany had not been sexually assaulted but didn't quite get across the serious nature of her daughter's injuries. Still in a sleepy haze and trying to register the information, Cheryl asked an extraordinarily pragmatic question: Do we need to come out there?

The Engles have a very down-to-earth, matter-of-fact way about them most of the time. They take life at face value-things are the way they are for a reason and there's no sense in whining about it.

Paul and Cheryl married when Tiffany was almost 6 years old-nearly five years after Paul and Tiffany's mother divorced. Tiffany calls Cheryl "Mom." The entire family, including half-siblings Cari, 27, Paul Matthew, 23, and Andrew, 18, calls her Tiff. The usual mother-daughter bickering and normal sibling dynamics aside, Tiffany and her family seem comfortable and content together. Little is off-limits as they poke fun at each other-even at Tiffany lying in a hospital bed.