Just before dawn on March 3rd, 2009, Frank Sharpski buttoned up his uniform and left his apartment for work as a Federal Express driver. The complex’s carports were down a dark alley flanked on one side by bushes.

As he reached the door to his van, a figure in black sprang out in front of him, waving a two-foot machete. “I’m going to kill you,” growled the attacker.

“Look, here’s my wallet and keys,” said Frank. “Here, take my watch, too.”

Even as he spoke, the figure lunged at him, slashing at his head, face, neck and chest. The blade sliced Frank’s nose so it was dangling freely as he fought for his life. As he raised his hands to defend himself, the machete hacked off two fingers and a thumb.

He tried to stagger away, but the attacker kept swinging the weapon as if he were scything through bamboo.

Neighbours heard Frank’s screams and one shouted out of a window that he’d called the police. Later they described the cries as “spine-tingling,” “blood-curdling,” and “heart-pounding.” One had seen sparks as the metal blade struck the concrete pavement.

When paramedics found Frank just before 6 a.m., he was lying in a lake of blood, his skull crushed and fractured. Doctors counted at least 50 slash wounds to his body, and gave him only a slim chance of recovery. He was in a coma for 10 days and spent the next two months in hospital.

Given the violent nature of the attack, detectives didn’t believe this was a robbery gone wrong or a random murder. It seemed personal, so who could have hated Frank Sharpski so much they wanted him dead?

They didn’t have to look far. When they interviewed his wife Mary in hospital after the attack, they noticed she failed to inquire about her husband’s condition and appeared far more interested in whether the police had found his bank card…