Ten years later, it’s still the 911 call that haunts and astonishes.
“Please help me,” 8-year-old Anthony Sukto says in a calm, clear voice. “My dad, he killed me with a knife and I’m gone. Can you please send the army men or the ambulance? My dad, he was killing my mom, and he’s like, ‘You’re next,’ and then he killed me. I’m still alive. I kind of survived.”
The first responders to the small house in Tillicum, Washington, around 4 a.m. on Oct. 22, 2004, found Anthony’s mom, Pranee, fatally stabbed with a butcher knife, and Anthony – with six stab wounds of his own – barely hanging on.
His father, Tony, who was apprehended outside on the lawn, was sentenced to 27 years and stripped of any future contact with his son. His attorney at the time said Tony was high on amphetamines and hallucinating, and grabbed the knife because he believed his wife and son were possessed by the spirit of his own abusive stepfather.
Emergency surgery saved Anthony’s punctured liver. But while the physical scars remain – above his left eyebrow, on the lower left side of his neck, beneath his right pectoral muscle and on his right torso, stretching 12 inches around to his back – Anthony, now 18, tells PEOPLE how he has learned to moved past his childhood trauma.
Adopted by his maternal aunt and uncle, he graduated from Smithson Valley High School in Spring Branch, Texas, in May, and will soon start classes at the University of Denver, where he plans to study business management and music production.
Most impressively, he has learned to forgive the man who tried to kill him.
“Every time I would think of my dad, I would think of hate,” says Anthony. “The only way I could find peace and love within myself was to forgive my father.”
He hopes that telling his story now will inspire others: “I believe I am an example of how God can work miracles in people’s lives,” he says. “I should have died that night.”
To read more about Anthony’s story, pick up this week’s issue of PEOPLE, on newsstands Friday.
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