A South Carolina woman was awoken on a Friday morning by a knock at her door. When she got up to answer it, she didn’t see anyone and went back to bed, hoping it was all a dream. That’s when a real living nightmare began, especially for her soon-to-be attacker, who would be left with a “memento” to always remember his victim.
Paige Duvall, 33, had recently purchased her home in North Charleston, South Carolina. The Cane Bay High School art teacher was looking forward to making it her own. “It was a blank canvas, it was all hardwood floors and white walls,” she said. “It was just ready for someone like me to come in and make it their own.”
One Friday morning, she heard a knock on her door around 6:30 a.m. and looked outside to see who it was. When she didn’t see anyone, she went back to bed. Within minutes, another knock was heard at the door, and again, she went to go check. When this sequence occurred a third time, she opened the door and peered outside. That’s when she saw 16-year-old Antoine Miller standing at the side of her house, holding a knife with a white handle.
Paige was instantly terrified and tried to shut her door, but Miller forced his way inside her home. He pushed her to the floor, climbed on top of her, and began punching her, all while screaming at her to “stop fighting,” and, “I won’t hurt you.” After asking where the bedroom was located, he “picked her up and placed her over his shoulder and took her through her house to the bedroom,” but he would soon regret ever touching her.
Once in the bedroom, Miller tried to undress Paige, but he picked the wrong victim. She kicked him hard in the groin, which only increased his anger. He shouted, “Now you have to die!” His method of killing her apparently was to ram his tongue into her mouth, since that’s what he did right after his announcement. However, that would prove to be yet another bad move, and the fierce woman had a painful surprise for him.
Paige “bit his tongue as hard as she could until she heard a snap,” and Miller recoiled in pain and screamed as he got off the battered woman. Most of his tongue was severed and still in Paige’s mouth as she jumped off the bed and ran. She threw the severed tongue on the kitchen floor, scrambled into her car, and went to a nearby gas station to call for help. Meanwhile, the rapist got away, but not for long.
The police later found Miller at a local Waffle House, after his mother had called 911 to get help for her son for “not having a tongue and needing medical assistance.” Police found his tongue at the crime scene and put it in a bag of ice. He was later treated at Trident Hospital, but it’s not clear if doctors were able to reattach his tongue.
Antoine Miller was charged as an adult on individual burglary, weapons possession, kidnapping, assault, and criminal sexual conduct counts. Someone should have taught him not to put his tongue where it doesn’t belong. Getting your tongue ripped out of your mouth is one lesson he won’t ever forget.
Paige Duvall sustained minor physical injuries and received help for emotional trauma. “I spoke with a counselor and my mom today and the counselor asked me, ‘What would you think objectively looking at your story? What would you think about that person?'” Paige recalled. “For the very first time, I felt empowered and I thought to myself, I would put that in my Rolodex of ‘If that happens to me that’s what I’m going to do.'”
The Cane Bay community has been helping Paige paint her home and maintain her property. In addition, friends are helping to make her home safer. “I thought that it was going to be me by myself just sort of figuring things out,” Paige said. “I was inundated by love and support by friends and family and the community. People that don’t even know me are coming around…I’m so thankful to everybody. I really am. I can’t even express how thankful I am.”
Paige said she is grateful for the support she’s been receiving from friends and strangers. “I told my mom today that I saw the worst in humanity and then I saw the most compassionate, supportive, amazing, generous part of humanity in the exact same day,” Paige said as she realized that sometimes a bad situation brings out the best in people. Out of darkness comes light.