WHITTIER - Arlene Boatright woke up to frantic banging about 3:30 a.m. Tuesday.
The 90-year-old opened her back door to a young woman with a black shirt wrapped tightly around her throat, sticks and brambles in her long hair and an abrasion to her upper shoulder. She wore only a red bra, shorts and one slipper sock.
The stranger said she'd been stabbed and asked Boatright to call police. She mentioned three men as the suspects.
"She said, `I thought they were my friends," Boatright said.
Whittier police said three El Monte men now in custody allegedly tied up and beat the 20-year-old Bellflower woman who was their passenger. She was later untied and forced out of the car. Police said one of the men then slit her throat and dumped her down the side of Turnbull Canyon Road.
They left her for dead. But she managed to climb up a steep grade and seek help in the 6000 block of Altmark Avenue.
Officer Jason Zuhlke said the woman was able to tell detectives what happened, give names and a partial license plate of a green 1994 Mitsubishi Eclipse to investigators before she was taken to Los Angeles County-USC Medical Center. She underwent surgery and is in critical condition.
The woman, identified by police as Christine Martinez, 20, of Bellflower, sustained a 4-inch laceration across her neck and numerous abrasions and head contusions.
An officer later checking the area for evidence saw the Mitsubishi pass by and pulled it over. Zuhlke said the car contained a rope, a shovel and their three suspects.
Vincent Mendoza, 21, Edward Meraz, 24, and Jose Ayala, 27, were booked on suspicion of attempted murder and kidnapping.
They were being held at Whittier Jail in lieu of $1 million bail each.
Investigators still don't know the motive behind the attack or if any of the suspects are gang members.
On Tuesday afternoon, police temporarily blocked off part of Turnbull Canyon Road as they searched for additional evidence. They found a backpack.
The incident started Monday night. The woman told police she met friends in Bellflower and got into the Mitsubishi to head to the beach.
They made a stop in El Monte.
"They apparently stopped there to pick up a girlfriend of one of the guys. But that didn't happen," Zuhlke said.
They headed next to Whittier where the woman was attacked and dumped.
Boatright's backyard looks 60 to 80 feet down Turnbull Canyon Road. She thinks the victim climbed up the hill and may have been drawn to the light coming from her kitchen area.
The longtime resident who just recovered from a cracked ankle said she is usually a sound sleeper.
"She was just hammering at the door. I said, `Who's there?' She said, `I need to call police, I just got stabbed,"' Boatright said.
Boatright asked her unexpected visitor where she came from and was told, "from the canyon."
"I think the good Lord was looking out for her," Boatright said.
Another Altmark Avenue resident who declined to give his name was surprised at the news.
"It's a quiet area here. Normally when something happens, the neighbors know," he said. "I hope she (the victim) does all right."