One year after Mother's Day stabbing, victim says he is better than ever

Michael Wagner (left), who was stabbed while working at the Thirftway Harvest Market a year ago, speaks to KATU's Keaton Thomas while sitting in one of his favorite Estacada restaurants, Lew’s Drive-In. (KATU Photo)

Michael Wagner says he feels better than ever. He feels healthy and happy. He says there are no lingering effects from being stabbed seven times while working at an Estacada grocery store in what is one of the most gruesome crimes in recent memory.

Monday marked one year since Joshua Webb allegedly walked into the Thriftway Harvest Market, covered in blood, carrying his mother’s severed head, and stabbed Wagner. On the anniversary, Wagner spoke in front of a TV news camera for the first time since the incident.

“I feel like I'm better off now after all this went down. It's just an amazing thing,” said Wagner, sitting in one of his favorite Estacada restaurants, Lew’s Drive-In.

Wagner is nearing retirement age now. He has worked at the Estacada grocery store for more than 20 years.

“Being able to work close to home, what a blessing. Getting to work with some great people, it's almost like a family,” he said.

The Air Force veteran is married and has three daughters. He is also a grandfather. Folks in Estacada may know him for his sense of humor at the store. Wagner likes to tell jokes.

“What's a pirate's favorite letter?” he asked. “You might think it's R, but it's actually the C.”

Watch the full interview with Wagner:

On Mother’s Day in 2017, May 14, Wagner says he was doing some extra work in the produce section just before lunch when Webb walked into the store. Police say he was carrying his mother’s head and covered in blood.

“I did not notice that, all I noticed was a big knife. It was all I could see really. I was totally focused on it,” said Wagner.

Clackamas County deputies say Webb had come from his mother’s home in Colton where he killed and beheaded her. Wagner didn’t know this until afterward.

“It was like 20 or 30 seconds,” said Wagner. “He just kind of rushed at me and started sticking me. I was able to wrestle him down, but I'm pretty sure it was all adrenaline.”

Several store employees helped Wagner wrestle Webb to the ground. Wagner was immediately taken to a hospital via helicopter where he says a trauma surgeon greeted him and told him, “We’re going to fix you right up.”

“I don't remember pain. I don't remember being ever worried that it wasn't going to turn out right. I always felt a little bit of protection, my co-workers were around me, and the first responders, everybody did exactly right,” he said.

Wagner spent about a week in the hospital. He was stabbed seven times. His stomach and colon were “nicked.” He says Webb stabbed him in the chest, but the knife luckily bounced off his sternum.

During his recovery, Wagner says his wife and three daughters stood by his side. So did several friends and neighbors. So did the entire community.

Immediately after the stabbing, there were cards, balloons, and flowers placed inside the grocery story. Lew’s Drive-In had a table for people to write notes to Wagner. The mayor signed a proclamation honoring the Harvest Market employees for their acts of heroism and courage.

“I just want to make sure everyone knows that I am thankful for their love and prayer, because it makes a world of difference. I felt protected during, after, and now. It's just amazing,” said Wagner.

Wagner has no physical limitations now; no nightmares either. He credits a quick recovery to all the support he received in the community.

“Everybody is worried about me and I don't want them to be because like I said, I am in a good place. Mentally, physically, everything is just awesome right now,” Wagner said.

Moving forward, Wagner says he wants to forget about what happened. That will make him feel even better.

Joshua Webb is still in the Clackamas County Jail. His trial is set for June 26.

Wagner says his wife is angry at Webb, but he is not. He hopes Webb can get some help, but says he needs to be away from the public.

Webb’s attorney filed for an insanity defense earlier this year. According to court documents filed by the Clackamas County District Attorney in April, Webb admitted to investigators that he killed and beheaded his mother and stabbed Wagner. They said Webb “appeared lucid and forthright” during the interview process. They said Webb made no claim that he lacked awareness that what he did was wrong, no claim that he couldn’t control his impulse, no claim that he was hallucinating.

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