Melissa Dohme and Cameron Hill first crossed paths on January 24, 2012. Dohme, then 20 years old, had been stabbed 32 times by her ex-boyfriend and Hill, a firefighter-paramedic, found her covered in blood and on the pavement outside of her house in Clearwater, Florida.
Police said Melissa’s former boyfriend, Robert Lee Burton Jr., who has been sentenced to life in prison without parole, stabbed her repeatedly in the face and neck after she agreed for him to come to her house for a “final hug.”
Burton had slashed her hands, arms, face and head. The stabbing only ceased because a passing couple stopped it and called for help.
“It was so bad,” Hill told the Tampa Bay Times in 2013, “you couldn’t tell she was blond.”
He helped load Dohme onto a helicopter, and then, he said, he felt a “sixth sense” and later explained, “I don’t know why, but I knew I’d see her again. I believed she would live.”
As Dohme stepped on to the plate at Monday night’s Tampa Bay Rays game to throw the first pitch as a representative of Hands Across the Bay, a nonprofit supporting Tampa Bay families, her boyfriend rain out on the field and handed her the ball. Scribbled on it were four words: “Will you marry me?”
A surprised Dohme said yes, kissed Hill, marveled at her ring and then threw the first pitch to her new fiancé.
Dohme spent three weeks in the hospital after that horrific night. She suffered a stroke and a severed nerve that affected her balance and partly paralyzed her face. But she walked out of rehab on her own, traveled to Europe, went back to school to become a nurse, and became an advocate for domestic violence survivors.
In the fall of 2012, almost 10 months after the attack, two of her EMTs surprised her when she spoke at a church. Hill was one. They hugged, and made plans to meet again.
“I had this feeling about him,” she said. By December, the two were dating.
Dohme told the Tampa Bay Times in 2013, “When I look back on that night, I can’t think of it as all bad anymore because I met Cameron.”
“He’s the one I’ve been waiting for. My fairy tale.”