Rachel Poole looked forward to a straightforward chat with her husband, Justin Poole, when she arrived home in late 2013. She was nearing the end of a difficult pregnancy and wanted to update Justin, posted by the military in southwest Asia by the Army, about her day.
However, the call was anything but straightforward. As the pair talked, 19-year-old Corey Bernard Moss attacked Rachel with a stainless steel knife. Powerless to protect her, Justin listened as Rachel begged for her and her unborn child’s life.
Rachel survived the vicious attack and, despite paralysis on one side of her body, managed to call emergency services.
Corey Bernard Moss stabbed Rachel because he didn’t want to pay the money he owed the Pooles
Rachel and Justin Poole knew Corey Bernard Moss: he was a trainee soldier at Fort Bliss who’d damaged their car after borrowing it. He owed the Pooles money for repairs.
A neighbor had informed Rachel that someone was snooping around the family home, but she wasn’t concerned. Rachel assumed Moss had passed by to give her the money he owed. However, Moss didn’t intend to pay – he broke into the house and waited in ambush for Rachel.
Justin had spent the duration of Rachel’s pregnancy stationed in Asia. Rachel needed her husband’s support – she’d suffered a massive bleed and had a low-lying placenta. The condition necessitated regular hospital visits. Luckily, Justin and Rachel talked regularly via FaceTime.
“We didn’t have a choice,” Rachel told The Sun. “Justin was in the Army. We used FaceTime as often as we could – it was so important for us to see each other, so I could show Justin my growing baby bump and make him feel like he was involved.”
As Rachel talked with Justin, Moss attacked her, stabbing her in the face, breast, and neck. The phone fell to the floor, but the call remained active. Justin heard the knife plunge into his wife’s body; he heard Rachel beg Moss to spare her baby. Justin said:
“It all happened quickly and all I could see was the shadow of the intruder. Rachel started to scream [that] it was our friend Corey. I could hear everything as he attacked my wife. The noises were terrifying – I knew he was trying to kill her.”
Justin remembered hearing a snap – like a bone breaking – and then… silence: Rachel was playing dead. Rachel recalled:
“It seemed like I lay there for an eternity holding my breath, struggling not to move even though my body felt like it was on fire with all the stab wounds. Then, once I was sure he had gone, with all the strength I could muster I dragged myself to reach my phone.”
Rachel gave birth to her daughter via C-section while in critical condition
Rachel arrived at University Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, with numerous injuries, including stab wounds, a collapsed lung, and displaced vertebrae. Doctors couldn’t administer more medication without delivering her child, so they performed an emergency C-section.
Baby Isabella was born sick due to the strong medication given to Rachel to keep her alive. Justin arrived from deployment just in time to witness his daughter’s birth. Doctors sent Rachel to the ICU and Isabella to the NICU.
Justin posted the baby’s photo on Facebook as soon as he could. “In case you are wondering, Rachel Poole is fighting to beat this,” he wrote. “Here is why she is fighting so hard. We love you baby.”
Rachel couldn’t see Isabella until she’d made substantial progress in her recovery. Regardless, she told KFOX14 via phone that she was glad they had survived the attack.
“I think the recovery is going pretty well; we have an amazingly strong daughter who is absolutely gorgeous,” Rachel said. It means the world, just being able to see her and know that, through everything, she’s doing just fine.” Rachel appreciated the messages of support the family had received:
“Honestly it’s such an encouragement, just to see and hear the support that is being brought to my family right now, through everything, knowing that everyone’s really come to stand behind us right now is really helpful for any kind of recovery.”
Several days later, Rachel held Isabella for the first time.
Rachel and Justin have rebuilt their lives and welcomed another child
Rachel survived the knife attack but suffered a damaged spine and nerve damage. Intense physical therapy restored most body functions; surgeons placed pins and a plate in her broken arm to stabilize it.
Feelings of inadequacy crept up as Rachel struggled to recover. “I suffered severe injuries which left me struggling to walk, in constant pain and depressed,” Rachel told The Sun. Miraculously, the Pooles welcomed baby Justin two years after the attack.
Rachel said her children gave her the motivation to press on. “I had to pull myself together and get on with my life for Isy and Justin,” Rachel said. “Now we have a beautiful toddler, Justin, who is the apple of all our eyes. Both my children are miracles!”
Rachel stated she was lucky that Moss’ attack didn’t harm Isabella. “He could have cut through my stomach and killed my baby – but he didn’t and she was born healthy,” Rachel said.
The mom of two walks with a cane and is registered as disabled. She said she has good days and bad days, but the love she gets from her husband and children never wanes. Rachel stated:
“They encourage me to keep my spirits up, to smile and to be positive even when I feel like the whole world is against me. It’s my family who has given me the will to survive. In my darkest days, I think of them and I realise that I am really the lucky one.”
Rachel revealed she’s stuck with a reminder of the attack in her skull: “I am registered blind in one eye and I still have part of the knife embedded in my skull – it’s too dangerous to operate to remove it. So I am stuck with a permanent reminder of the worst day of my life. I just want to be the best I can, and my husband and kids love me for who I am.”
Moss was sentenced to 30 years in prison; Rachel hopes he never gets parole
Rachel identified Moss during the attack and called out his name, hoping Justin would hear. Moss called a friend to drive him back to Fort Bliss. Justin called Moss’ co-workers at Fort Bliss, who apprehended him and recovered the knife allegedly used in the attack.
Moss admitted to stabbing Rachel Poole. He was charged with attempted capital murder and held on a $150,000 bond.
The Pooles protested when prosecutors changed the charge to burglary with an intent to commit a felony, to which Moss pleaded not guilty. A judge also issued a gag order preventing Rachel from commenting on the case. This infuriated Justin, who’d pledged that the family would speak about the attack.
“Once my wife is out of the hospital, let the nation know she will speak up,” Justin had stated. Justin expressed his frustrations via a Facebook post:
“There are people out there that have forced Rachel’s story to stop being told in fear. They want us silenced in order not to look bad for choices and decisions they have made not in the public eye. I’m here to say we didn’t choose any of this, nor did we want to be victims.”
According to Military Spouse, the DA, Jaime Esparza, changed the charge to increase the chances of a conviction. Attempted murder and burglary to commit a felony carried a similar penalty, but it was easier to prove the latter.
Former felony prosecutor David Nachtigall told the outlet that to secure a conviction on the murder charge, prosecutors had to prove that Moss intended to kill Rachel. To find Moss guilty of the burglary, prosecutors only needed to show that he entered Rachel’s home without permission and assaulted her.
“The prosecutors in this case are primarily concerned with securing a conviction. While changing the charge may appear to the public as though the prosecutors are somehow minimizing the severity of the offense, the reality is that prosecution is only aiming to reduce the risk of Moss being acquitted.”
The case didn’t go to trial: Moss pleaded guilty. He received a 30-year sentence and is eligible for parole after 15 years. Rachel told The Sun that he hopes Moss doesn’t get parole: “As for Corey, Justin and I treated him like a family member, and this is how he repaid us. I hope he rots in jail and never gets parole – he doesn’t deserve to be out in the real world.”