ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. — A man is behind bars, charged this week with a crime that happened 26 years ago. The man, Robert Lee Burton, has a familiar name. His son, Robert Lee Burton Jr. is serving a life sentence in prison for a crime that drew headlines nationwide after he brutally attacked his ex-girlfriend, Melissa Dohme.
DNA connected Burton Sr. to a sexual assault of a 37-year-old woman at gunpoint behind a mobile home at Florida Sands Park in the Lealman area of St. Petersburg. He denies having any involvement in the attack. Yet, his son Robert Burton Jr., already convicted in another violent attack.
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Melissa Dohme spoke with us after she was stabbed 32 times. Doctors didn't believe she would survive.
“They did not know if I would ever be able to speak again and if I would have a voice at all. The doctors didn’t have hope," Dohme told us years after the attack. “I know God saved me. The reason I know? I felt it,” she said fighting back tears.
Now, with her attacker’s father arrested for another violent crime, those terrifying moments are being brought back to the surface again.
“I think it was an emotional reaction for all of us. Melissa is distraught, and so are we,” Julie Weintraub, director of Hands Across The Bay explained.
Weintraub helps survivors like Dohme recover. She says violence is often passed down through generations.
“Usually people see how their families behave and they grow up and behave the same way,” Weintraub said.
Hands Across The Bay and CASA are working tirelessly to change that.
“If we don’t talk about it now, if we don’t address it now, it will repeat itself in the next generation. So today is the day we stand up to silence and say no more," Lola Blevins of CASA added.