Create a free profile to get unlimited access to exclusive videos, breaking news, sweepstakes, and more!
It was a crime that left the victim, and his doctors, irrevocably changed.
John Wayne Bobbitt became a household name in the summer of 1993 after his then-wife, Lorena Bobbitt, cut off his penis while he was sleeping and later tossed it in a field. Surgeons were able to successfully reattach the organ after a grueling nine hours of surgery, but more than 25 years later, the incident remains one that Bobbitt and the surgeons responsible for his recovery may never forget.
“The phone at my bedside woke me up in the middle of the night, and really, all I knew about this, on the way into the hospital, was that a penis had been amputated and the organ was missing,” Dr. James Sehn, a urologist, said during an interview with “20/20” for their upcoming special, “The Bobbitts: Love Hurts,” ABC News reports.
Seeing for the first time what had been done to Bobbitt was “a kind of an out-of-body experience,” Sehn said. “It really takes your breath away to see this kind of disfigurement.”
On the other hand, he recalled Bobbitt remained “very calm,” despite having lost a dangerous amount of blood.
“I mean just almost surprisingly calm, as if he didn't even understand the extent of this injury and what the implications of it might be,” Sehn said.
Dr. David Berman, a plastic surgeon with expertise in microsurgery, worked on Bobbitt as well and described getting a similar phone call as the one Sehn received early on the morning of June 23, 1993, according to ABC News.
“They said, ‘You know, we've got this guy here whose penis has been cut off. Can you come down and basically put it back on?’” he told the network. “I said, ‘OK, I can do that. Do you have the penis?’ And they said, ‘No.’”
Lorena Bobbitt quickly left the apartment she shared with her husband in Manassas, Virginia after committing the act, and fled to the home of Janna Bisutti, her boss. Lorena was “screaming and crying,” Bisutti reportedly told ABC News back in 1993, but she was able to get the distraught wife to tell her where she’d thrown the organ, information that she then relayed to police. Officers found Bobbitt’s penis in a field across from a 7-Eleven and promptly delivered it to the hospital where the 26-year-old former Marine was being treated, ABC News reports.
“It came to us just in a bag of ice, concealed in a brown paper hot dog bag,” Sehn recalled, according to ABC News.
Sehn and Berman spent nine hours performing the surgery to reattach Bobbitt’s penis. Berman’s chief concern, he told the outlet, was “simply, that it had to work.”
“I've never seen a penile replantation,” he said. “They’re extremely rare ... but I had done a lot of microsurgeries. So I’d put a lot of fingers back on, and ... it was just this particular application was different.”
The surgery was a success and Bobbitt went on to function normally, even starring in a number of adult films.
“It was the happiest day of my life,” Bobbitt said of finding out that the surgery had worked. “It's like, ‘Wow.’ It's like opening Christmas presents on Christmas day and you're a little kid. So — I was excited.”
Lorena Bobbitt, who now goes by Lorena Gallo, claimed in court months later that her husband had routinely raped and abused her during their marriage, and that he’d raped her again the night of the attack, the Washington Post reports. She was charged with malicious wounding and faced 20 years in prison if convicted, but a jury ultimately found her not guilty on all charges.
John Bobbitt, who denied abusing and raping his wife, was found not guilty of marital sexual assault, according to the Washington Post. The couple divorced in 1995.
[Photo: Getty Images]
Crime Time is your destination for true crime stories from around the world, breaking crime news, and information about Oxygen's original true crime shows and documentaries. Sign up for Oxygen Insider for all the best true crime content.