Following the hospital release of stab victim and UCSB student Eli Weiner on Monday, another witness came forward to police yesterday claiming the suspect assaulted him the same evening the incident occurred.
Weiner, a fourth-year business economics major, was stabbed with a folding knife from behind as he was leaving a party on Del Playa Drive early Sunday morning. He was transported to Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital for treatment of a 3.5-inch-deep wound that narrowly missed his vital organs and released on Monday. Paul Franzen, an Ellwood resident who grew up in I.V., came into the Daily Nexus office yesterday afternoon and said he believed he was attacked by the stabbing suspect that same night.
Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept. Detective Chuck Cooley was called into the Nexus office to meet with Franzen, and said that the 27-year-old Ellwood resident’s description of the unnamed suspect sounded accurate.
“It matches what happened at the party,” Cooley said. “We’ll see where it goes from here.”
Franzen said the man in front of the door at the same party Weiner tried to attend punched him.
“I got in an altercation with him as well,” Franzen said. “I went to the door of the party and these guys were standing there … The guy socked me so hard.”
Franzen said the suspect looked like the 6’2″ purple-shirted and 200-lb. Caucasian male described in Monday’s issue of the Nexus.
According to authorities, the suspect ran away at the time of the incident. While the suspect’s name is not yet known, the case is still currently under investigation by the Santa Barbara Sheriff’s Dept.
Amy Schaeffer, a fourth-year communication major and close friend of Weiner, said the knife narrowly missed his kidney and colon. If Weiner had moved an inch, Schaeffer said, he could have died.
Eric Volan, a fourth-year psychology major and close friend of Weiner, said that when Weiner was brought to the hospital Sunday morning, he was placed in the Intensive Care Unit.
“He suffered massive internal bleeding, which could have resulted in major surgery,” Volan said. “The 5-inch blade dug three and a half inches into his lower back, breaking a bone in the process. He remained in bed and in ICU for nearly a day, unable to move, laugh or even talk at times.”
Schaeffer said Weiner is in much better condition now, and that doctors believe he will completely recover.
“Hopefully he’ll be better in a couple of weeks,” Schaeffer said. “It’s really miraculous; there’s nothing permanent except for a scar and a seriously bad memory.”
Volan said the wound was deeper than initially reported, and that Weiner broke a vertebrate and suffered from internal bleeding. To close the wound, doctors put eight staples in his back.
Schaeffer said the stabbing should serve as a reminder to students and I.V. residents to act carefully when going out to parties in the community.
“We’ve got to be careful about going out,” she said. “There’s a lot of stuff that goes on here. It’s not as safe as everyone thinks.”
Besides all of the physical pain that Eli has gone through, Volan said he has dealt with a lot of mental and emotional strain.
“He got stabbed by some guys he didn’t know at a party where he knew most of the people,” Volan said. “He has to live with that night, and he or I can barely comprehend how or why this happened. He was sitting in the hospital for two days contemplating and having his life pass before him.”
Volan, Weiner and their other friend, Henry Martz, tried to enter a party at their friend’s house on DP, but the men who were guarding the door would not let them through.
“Words began to be flung, and all of a sudden, myself and Eli were being barraged with pushes and punches,” he said. “I have no idea how it started, but within a minute or two of being there, the punches had started.”
Volan said the fighting lasted about 10 to 20 seconds, after which he turned to see Weiner walking away.
“He had been attempting to leave the whole time, but the guys wouldn’t let him,” he said. “I followed him out and immediately, saw his white shirt covered in blood and knew something was wrong.”
Weiner’s friends have helped him get through this tough time, Schaeffer said.
“His friends love him,” she said. “He’s gotten a lot of community support.”
Anyone with additional information can reach police by calling (805) 681-4179.