Editor's note: If you'd like to help Erika cover the cost of some of her medical bills, her friends have established the Erika Brannock Fund to collect donations.
Erika Brannock, a survivor of the Boston Marathon bombing, anxiously purses her lips.
Her eyes jump and she is quick to smile and laugh.
This is what someone looks like waiting to meet the person, a stranger, who she believes saved her life.
"I told my cousin last night that it's kind of like the night before Christmas, where you're so excited, but nervous at the same time and you can't sleep," Brannock told CNN's AC360 on Wednesday.
Brannock is about to meet Amanda North, a woman who took her hand and did not let go.
Erika Brannock could have died from her severe injuries after the Boston Marathon bombings were it not for a good samaritan. Part of Erika's left leg was blown off in the blast and her right leg was broken. A compassionate stranger, who she recalls having the name Joan, made a tourniquet out of a belt to stop the bleeding.
"I had a conversation in my head with God and I told him I wasn't ready to go," remembers Erika. "It was almost instantaneously ... this woman kind of crawled over to me and she grabbed my hand ... she said 'My name is Joan from California and I'm not going to let you go,' and she stayed with me the whole time."
The preschool teacher has overcome many obstacles in her recovery, including 11 surgeries, as well as the fear of another attack. Every time she was wheeled into the operating room, she had to pass the section of the hospital where bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev was being treated. The FBI assured Erika that he would never hurt her again.
16-year-old Skylar Neese disappeared after sneaking out of her West Virginia home on July 6, 2012. She wanted to hang out with close friends that night, so she climbed out of her window and got into a car with them.
The teen never returned. Six months later, two girls who had been her best friends told police they stabbed Skylar to death. The girls told police they left her body on the side of the road covered with branches.
One friend, Rachel Shoaf, left for church camp the day after the murder. The second girl's name has not been made public because she is a juvenile.
That other friend stayed in town after her friend's disappearance. She hung missing posters and comforted the family before the body was discovered. Skylar's dad told CNN's Randi Kaye their family thought her friend " ...was so upset and missed Skylar so much, and to find she murdered her makes me sick."
At least 400,000 rape kits containing critical DNA that could help convict a criminal are sitting untested in labs around the country. Victims who submitted evidence assumed the police were searching for their attackers using the kits, but hundreds of thousands were never processed.
A new federal law aims to reduce this enormous backlog of untested kits, but time is running out in some cases.
CNN's Randi Kaye met one woman who followed up on her case decades later and was horrified to discover her rape kit was untested. When police finally processed the evidence, it was just a matter of months before they found the man who brutally raped Carol Bart in1984. But it was too late for her to press charges against Joseph Houston and seek justice because of the statute of limitations in Texas.
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