Times NCIS Pauley Perette Faced Real Danger

Pauley Perette got her big break playing Abby Sciuto, the spunky, smart, pigtailed criminalist on "NCIS" who was largely fearless in the face of death and violent crime. But as the actress and musician found out in 2015, it's a lot more challenging to maintain an iron constitution when the threat of death and violent crime is happening to you

The former "NCIS" star was brutally attacked in her Hollywood neighborhood by a transient man on November 13, 2015, per a tweet posted by the actress. Perette described getting jumped by the homeless individual, who punched her repeatedly and threatened to kill her. Miraculously, the perpetrator stopped his attack before taking Perette's life. However, Perette's nightmare didn't end there. 

Perette is also a stalking victim, as she detailed in an episode of "48 Hours." She told CBS that the experience made her feel threatened and terrorized to the point of contemplating suicide. Indeed, these harrowing circumstances prove even more ironic given Perette's real-life crime obsession.

Perette's violent attack started and ended unexpectedly

In Perette's initial tweet about the event, she wrote about the certainty that her attacker, who repeatedly called himself William, would kill her. "I knew I couldn't overcome him. I prayed my heart out ... then finally said, 'William is a beautiful name. I have a little nephew named William.' That's all I said, all I did, other than praying my heart out. He started to punch me again and then said: 'Get the f*** out of here.' And I did." 

After the attack, the actress reached out to her friend in law enforcement and drew a police sketch. The cops were able to find her attacker, David Merck, and arrest him. Per E! News, Merck pled not guilty by reason of insanity at his arraignment and was sent to Patton State Hospital. Perette later published a piece for Time's Motto series where she forgave her attacker, calling the incident "a consequence of our failure as a society to take care of our mentally ill and impaired homeless community." 

Fox 11 Los Angeles reported Merck was discharged from the state hospital and returned to the streets in 2018, offering a bleak "Catch-22" wherein law enforcement couldn't arrest Merck again unless he committed another crime, which understandably raised concerns in the community and Perette. "I'm afraid the next word I hear about this guy is that he's killed a female," Perette told the news outlet.

The actress said her stalking experience hasn't been taken seriously

As if a violent crime by a stranger wasn't terrifying enough, Perette is also a long-time victim of stalking, sharing her over 10-year experience with CBS' "48 Hours." Perette has remained tight-lipped about her stalker's identity to avoid giving him the validation he seeks, but she told CBS she's constantly worried his non-life-threatening harassment will escalate to more dangerous levels. Law enforcement's handling of her case has only exacerbated the issue. 

"I was told by a police officer once that I should have stayed and let my stalker break my arms so then they would have something to prosecute," Perette told CBS. "I went, 'I don't want my arms broken.' The first victimization is being stalked and terrorized and harassed. The second victimization is that the system does not work for stalking victims. It simply does not." 

Unfortunately, Perette's criminal justice connection hasn't helped her get justice for the crimes committed against her. In two since-deleted tweets posted in 2020, Perette said her stalker was still harassing her and using innocent individuals' photos to do so. Per Pop Culture, the actress blamed Los Angeles District Attorney George Gascon, writing, "Do you think it is a coincidence that my thrice convicted stalker suddenly comes back after me when you announce that you won't hold stalkers accountable? Our blood...MY blood...is on your hands! How dare you."