Mark Ledden

Mark Ledden photo

Mark Ledden

Mark Ledden stabs his wife 11 times
Then accuses her of attacking him

Valentine’s Day, 2009. Denise Ledden of Prospect Park, Pennsylvania, a quiet suburb of Philadelphia, did not celebrate the holiday with her husband of six years, Mark Ledden. Instead, she had dinner with a friend, bringing along her two sons, aged 6 and 3. She could not go anywhere without the children. Mark forbade it.

The Ledden family was living in Denise’s parents’ home, because she and Mark had lost two of their own—one in Delaware, and one in Arizona. Her mother’s dining room had been converted to a bedroom, and recently, Denise had been sleeping with the children. She did not want sleep with Mark.

At 10 p.m., Denise’s six-year-old was already in bed, but the three-year-old was sitting with her in the living room. Mark asked her a question: “So when do you think you’re coming back to the bedroom?”

“I don’t know,” Denise replied.

After a pause, Mark said, “You really hate me, don’t you?” It was more of a statement than a question.

Denise was not happy. It was Valentine’s Day, and she got nothing from her husband—no card, no gift, no romantic dinner. They were financially strapped. They were homeless. And he complained that he didn’t get enough sex.

Usually, Denise told her husband exactly what he wanted to hear—she was afraid to do otherwise. But on Valentine’s Day 2009, her resentment boiled over and she spoke the truth:

“Sometimes I do fucking hate you,” she said.

Mark looked at her—or perhaps it was through her. “Oh yeah?” he replied.

Mark left the living room and went into the kitchen. He returned, grabbed Denise by the hair, yanked her away from her son, and, pulling a knife from behind his back, dragged her into the kitchen, where he began to stab her.

Denise screamed.

Mark Ledden intends to kill

Mark stabbed Denise several times; then the knife broke. He dragged his bleeding wife across the kitchen floor to the knife drawer to grab another weapon.

At one point, Mark, a former body builder, had Denise face down on the floor and was trying to stab her face and neck with a knife, but Denise frantically defended herself with her arms. So Mark stabbed her in the back and the side of her chest, by her breast. Denise continued to plead and scream.

Breaking that knife, Mark held onto Denise while he got another one and then shoved her against the kitchen door, stabbing her again in the chest and twisting the knife inside her. Denise urinated in her pants.

“Stop! Please stop!” Denise screamed. “I peed my pants!”

“I’m already getting five years for what I’ve done so far,” Mark coldly replied.

With those words, the only words he spoke, Denise knew that her husband intended to kill her. She screamed for her six-year-old son:

“Help mommy! Call 911! Go run to the neighbor’s house and get help for mommy!”

The boy got up out of bed, saw his father stabbing his mother and blood all over the kitchen, and began to cry and scream uncontrollably.

Mark let go of Denise’s hair and turned to his son. “It’s okay,” he said. “Just lie back down.”

Taking advantage of the interruption, Denise dashed for the door, got two of them open and ran barefoot into the street. Mark was right behind her.

Denise Ledden runs for her life

Denise ran as fast as she could through the neighborhood, glancing over her shoulder. Mark stopped at the end of the driveway and went back into the house.

Denise’s mother had a weekend job providing home care to an elderly lady in the neighborhood, and that’s where she headed. One house was all lit up, and Denise ran up to it and banged on the storm door with two massively bleeding arms.

The neighbor came to the door. It actually wasn’t the home where Denise’s mother worked, but the one next door.

“Please help me!” Denise cried. “I need an ambulance.”

“What happened?” the shocked neighbor asked.

“My husband stabbed me and was trying to kill me. My kids are alone in the house with him. Call the police right away and I need an ambulance. I’m looking for Josephine’s house because my mother is there!”

With this, the neighbor recognized Denise, called 911, and went next door to get her mother. By the time Denise’s mother got outside, the police were there.

“Go get the kids!” Denise told both her mother and the police. “Just go get the kids!”

Emergency room

Denise was transported to the Crozer-Chester Medical Center shock trauma emergency room. During the ambulance ride, Denise heard that “more” were coming from her parent’s address. She was terrified that the injured were her children.

The injured turned out to be Mark. He slit his wrist and cut himself in the neck and stomach, later claiming that Denise attacked him first. Mark was actually in the room next to Denise in the ER, and she could hear him screaming, “Just let me die!”

Mark was arraigned while chained to his hospital bed. A psychiatrist determined that he was not insane, and instead of being sent to a psychiatric hospital, he was eventually sent to jail.

Denise had a total of 11 stab wounds. Tubes were inserted into her lungs, which were collapsed due to puncture wounds. She had exploratory surgery to check for damage to her organs—luckily, no internal repairs were necessary. She had a defensive wound on her left forearm that left her thumb partially disabled. Repairing it would require tendon transfer surgery.

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