Sophia Putney-Wilcox: Woman Who Survived Attack by Ex-Boyfriend Adam Shigwadja

Sophia Putney-Wilcox was tormented by her abusive boyfriend Adam Shigwadja, and things only escalated when they split up. Although she has moved on, her past has left a big scar. If you want to know more about Putney-Wilcox and her fight to escape domestic violence, then we have the details for you right here.

Sophia Putney-Wilcox, then 14, was on cloud nine when one of the popular boys at her Kalamazoo, Michigan high school, Adam Shigwadja, added her on Facebook and started talking to her. Little did she know that Shigwadja had a dark side to him.

About Sophia Putney-Wilcox
GenderFemale
ChildrenMia Rose Swims
SiblingsKiely
ParentsKristin Putney
FiancéWill Swims

Putney-Wilcox’s harrowing tale is the subject of an episode of the Investigation Discovery show Home Alone.

The Start of Sophia Putney-Wilcox’s Teenage Romance

In September 2011, Sophia Putney-Wilcox was a high school freshman when she met 16-year-old Shigwadja, who was a sophomore.

Putney-Wilcox described Shigwadja as a mysterious skater boy with dreamy blue eyes. A lot of girls had a crush on him, and when Shigwadja started talking to Putney-Wilcox, she made him the center of her world.

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Posted by Sophia Putney-Wilcox on Monday, December 5, 2016

The teens started talking to each other on Facebook. Putney-Wilcox described Shigwadja as very quiet and she tried to figure him out.

At first, their relationship was quite stable. Putney-Wilcox said that Shigwadja was very sweet to her and always told her that he loved her.

In fact, he was so in love with her that he told her they would get married and have kids together. Shigwadja used to stand outside her window and draw a heart, play her favorite song, and lay out flowers for her.

However, Shigwadja’s supposed love eventually took a dark turn into controlling and abusive behavior.

Trouble Starts Brewing

Sophia Putney-Wilcox said that she became his main focus. Shigwadja wanted her to give all her time to him. He didn’t like it when she hung out with her friends, and he even used to go through her cell phone.

One time, Shigwadja suspected that Putney-Wilcox was going out to meet somebody. Enraged, he threw her against the wall and told her that nobody would love her and that she didn’t deserve him.

Putney-Wilcox knew that there was something wrong with Shigwadja. He used to always text her and tell her that he was suicidal. In fact, he used to cut himself and take pills. But she didn’t tell her mother, Kristin Putney, or anybody about the way Shigwadja treated her.

Mother and daughter have always been extremely close. Putney-Wilcox always used to tell her mom about her problems. However, she didn’t tell Putney about the abuse Shigwadja was inflicting on her.

She always felt guilty for lying to her mother and when the relationship became too toxic for her, Putney-Wilcox tried to attempt suicide. However, the moment she took some pills, she realized that killing herself was not worth it and that she wanted to live.

Having had enough, Putney-Wilcox broke up with Shigwadja for the first time right before her birthday. However, Shigwadja didn’t take the breakup well and he started stalking her.

Putney-Wilcox was scared for her life and finally broke down in front of her mother. Kristin Putney called up Shigwadja’s mother, Susan Thomas, and told her that she was concerned about Shigwadja and thought that he needed to be hospitalized.

Thomas herself had reservations about her son’s relationship, thinking it was not at all healthy. However, she seemed to take the perspective that the relationship was mutually obsessive and destructive, as opposed to an example of one-sided domestic abuse.

Thomas and her husband spoke to their son. They told him: “You know, this girl is going to get you in trouble. She’s either gonna get you killed or put in jail if you stay with her. This drama has to stop.”

Also see: The Home Invasion and Murders by Haley McHam’s Ex-Boyfriend James Arthur Bowden

Adam Shigwadja’s First Attack

In February 2013, Shigwadja attacked Putney-Wilcox for the first time after their breakup. He ripped open the window to her bedroom and came inside. Putney-Wilcox demanded to know why he’d come and asked him to leave.

Putney-Wilcox recalled grabbing him and hitting him. Shigwadja removed a knife and held it near himself. He told her if she wanted to hurt him, then she should do it.

It was at that point that Putney-Wilcox broke down. She told Shigwadja that she could never hurt him and she was confused as to why was he behaving this way.

Shigwadja held the knife to Putney-Wilcox’s throat and kept repeating, “You don’t have control anymore. You don’t have control anymore.” The teenage girl somehow calmed him down, telling him that she loved him and breaking up was a big mistake.

Shigwadja left her house and Putney-Wilcox went to her mother and told her about the attack. The police then caught Shigwadja on his way back home.

Shigwadja claimed that he went to Putney-Wilcox’s house with a knife with the intention of hurting himself, not Putney-Wilcox.

Shigwadja was charged with attempt to commit assault, home invasion, and felonious assault. He was sent to jail for a month.

Shigwadja and Putney-Wilcox’s families reached an agreement, wherein Shigwadja was allowed to plead guilty to a lesser charge and was forbidden from contacting Putney-Wilcox. Additionally, Shigwadja also had to go on probation and seek counseling.

Shigwadja’s mother sent him to live with his grandparents, 30 miles away. At that point, Sophia Putney-Wilcox and everybody else thought the nightmare was finally over…but it wasn’t.

Sophia Putney-Wilcox & Adam Shigwadja Start Dating Again

After the attack, Putney-Wilcox didn’t feel safe in her apartment anymore, which is why the family moved to a house. Her brother, Kiely Putney-Wilcox, then 15, made sure that all the doors and windows were locked and checked on his sister to make sure she was fine.

Shigwadja made a fake Facebook account and contacted Putney-Wilcox. They started talking to each other again, without her family knowing about it. Once he was off probation, Shigwadja drove his grandparents’ car to meet Putney-Wilcox.

But his abusive behavior continued and Putney-Wilcox thought it was her fault he was acting this way. Once, he told her that she couldn’t go to college; instead, she had to move in with him. He also said she couldn’t work because other men would be at her place of employment.

Putney-Wilcox said that incident was the last time she spoke to him and, after that, she stopped texting him.

When she stopped responding to his texts, Shigwadja retaliated by sending her messages that implied that he’d hurt himself.

He also sent her a photo of himself sitting outside her house, waiting for her to return.

Also see: Regis Brown: Facts about the Man from Erie who Murdered his Wife and Stepdaughter

The Second and Final Attack

On September 15, 2014, when Sophia Putney-Wilcox went to her room, she noticed that a comforter she kept on her bed was on the floor. The moment she shut the door, Shigwadja came out from under the blanket holding a knife.

Putney-Wilcox, scared to death, explained to him that she would meet him outside the house. But he refused to leave and told her it was too late, that he would go to prison for this.

She asked him if he was going to kill her, to which he said yes. He then walked up to her and cut her across her chest with the knife.

Kristin Putney was standing outside her daughter’s room, heard a loud thud, and tried to enter, but Shigwadja kept her out. He then pulled out a bottle of gasoline and lit the room on fire.

Putney-Wilcox said that Shigwadja started moving both of them toward the flames. At this point, her mother managed to break open the door. Putney-Wilcox’s brother Kiely took his baseball bat, ran up the stairs, and started hitting Shigwadja with the bat.

Shigwadja was using Putney-Wilcox as his shield and Kiely accidentally hit her in the head. Shigwadja fell back through the window and ran away.

The Aftermath of the Attack

When Putney-Wilcox was taken to the hospital, doctors found out that she had a hematoma under the skull as a result of being struck by the bat.

Kiely was devastated, but Putney-Wilcox persevered through surgery. When she woke up, she was surprised to still be alive. She calls her brother her hero because he saved her life.

After the assault, nobody knew where Shigwadja was. He wasn’t found until the next day, when he was walking down one of the main roads in Kalamazoo.

Adam Shigwadja's mugshot

Adam Shigwadja’s Mugshot; Photo: Michigan Department of Corrections

He had burns on his legs and cuts and bruises on his arm. He was charged with assault with intent to murder Sophia Putney-Wilcox, home invasion, arson, and felonious assault.

During the interrogation, Shigwadja told police that when he went to Putney-Wilcox’s place, his intention was to set himself on fire.

The Trial

Ten months after Shigwadja’s arrest, he decided to go for a bench trial rather than a jury trial. During the trial, he claimed that his intention hadn’t been to kill Sophia Putney-Wilcox.

Adam Shigwadja Sentences

Adam Shigwadja’s Sentencing Record; Image: Michigan Department of Corrections

In August 2015, Circuit Judge Pamela L. Lightvoet found Shigwadja guilty of the home invasion and arson counts. But in her ruling, she said the burden of proof hadn’t been met for the charge of assault with intent to murder. This meant the sentencing guidelines for Shigwadja had dropped dramatically.

There was a public outcry after the verdict, with observers demanding justice for Putney-Wilcox. Some of them wrote letters to the judge. A march was organized outside the courthouse on the day of sentencing.

On September 14, 2015, the judge sentenced Shigwadja to 175 months to 30 years in prison for both first-degree home invasion and second-degree arson.

Judge Lightvoet ordered Shigwadja to serve the sentence on each charge consecutively. This means he has to spend 350 months in prison before becoming eligible for parole, and there is a possibility he could remain in prison for as long as 60 years.

He was also ordered to serve a concurrent term of 83 months to 15 years in prison for assault with intent to commit great bodily harm less than murder.

When questioned later, Judge Lightvoet claimed the uproar over her verdict had no influence on her ruling.

Where Is Sophia Putney-Wilcox Now?

Posted by Will Swims on Monday, September 18, 2017

Sophia Putney-Wilcox has decided to put the past behind her and has already started a new chapter in her life. The now 21-year-old is engaged to Will Swims. The couple has a baby girl called Mia Rose Swims, who was born on June 19, 2018.

Putney-Wilcox is now trying to raise awareness about domestic violence and has urged victims of toxic and abusive relationships to leave.


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