Blood dripped onto the pavement Wednesday morning as the 10-year-old boy ran across the street from his James Island home to a neighbor's and knocked on the door.
Lyndsay Gianoli opened the door to the sight of a boy who had often played with her 4-year-old son. He had been stabbed.
"He was scared," Gianoli, 35, said. "He was hurt. He was covered in blood. ... He said his grandmother tried to hurt him."
Before authorities arrived, the boy's grandfather showed up to their duplex at 349A Howle Ave. and found his wife dead.
Paramedics took the boy, who appeared to have been stabbed or cut at least four times, to Medical University Hospital, where he was expected to recover.
But exactly what happened inside the home had not been immediately determined Wednesday because only the boy had survived, said Maj. Eric Watson of the Charleston County Sheriff's Office. Nobody else was there at the time, he said.
The dead woman was not immediately named, and the manner in which she died had not been released by the Charleston County Coroner's Office.
Neighbors described her as a housekeeper often seen walking her two terriers through the community southwest of Folly Road and Maybank Highway. She and her husband cared for their grandson in the home.
It was about 11 a.m. Wednesday, when she and the boy got into an argument, Watson said.
"An altercation occurred," Watson said. "At some point in the altercation, a knife was introduced. We don't know who introduced it."
The boy, who is not considered a suspect, ran outside to get help, Watson said. The trail of blood drops that he left behind led to Gianoli's home a few houses down from the boy's duplex.
"I don't know why he came straight here," Gianoli said. "But he did."
Gianoli was home with her toddler and her son's friend when the bloodied child came to her door. He quickly said he had been attacked, Gianoli said, so she pulled him inside and locked the door.
She dialed 911.
"He was in shock," she said. "All I was concerned about was keeping him safe."
Gianoli saw at least four stab wounds or cuts on the boy's body: on a wrist, an arm, his neck and his back. She bandaged his wrist, which had the worst of the injuries.
She figured, though, that none of the wounds were life-threatening.
Paramedics soon loaded the boy into an ambulance. Around the same time, his grandfather came home and found the woman lying on the floor, Gianoli said.
He was confused about why the ambulance was at a different home, she added, and started worrying about his grandson, too.
By the time sheriff's deputies arrived, the woman was already dead, Watson said. He also confirmed the boy's injuries.
Later in the day, crime-scene investigators marked a half-dozen drops of blood in the street and took samples.
Some residents planted chairs in their yards and watched. A next-door neighbor scooped up one of the woman's two dogs in the home's front yard and said she would care for it.
Most of the residents on this straight, dead-end street recalled hearing no disturbance Wednesday morning until sirens sounded.
"What transpired over there, I cannot tell you," Conrad Mizzell said. "I just walked out here, and my world had changed."
Mizzell has lived across the street for 14 years. The family had been renting half the duplex for no more than two of those years, he said.
He often saw the woman walking with her small dogs. They would exchange greetings. She usually yelled back, "'Everything's going fine,'" he said.
"She was a nice person," he said. "It's a shock to me like it is everybody here."
Mizzell spoke more with the woman's husband, a house painter. He always enjoyed picking flowers he discovered on the roadside, Mizzell said. The couple liked working in their garden, other neighbors said.
The boy, Mizzell said, was well-behaved.
Mizzell once found a military-style hat that he suspected was used at The Citadel in the 1930s. It was too small for his own head, so he gave it to the boy.
"He had just come to the neighborhood," Mizzell said. "He was trying to feel at home, so I let him have that cap."
The boy put it on a shelf in his room, Mizzell said, where he admired it as a collectible.
"They were all good people over there," he said. "Some of these things, you can't explain."
Reach Andrew Knapp at 937-5414 or twitter.com/offlede.
Crime-scene investigators from the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office work the scene of a stabbing on Howle Avenue on James Island, where a woman was found dead and her grandson, 10, was stabbed Wednesday.×
The Charleston County Sheriff’s Office investigates the Howle Avenue scene where a grandmother was found dead and her 10-year-old grandson was stabbed Wednesday.×