An Edmonton woman who police say was beaten and left for dead in a burning apartment says the arrest of her accused attacker ends months of fear and uncertainty.

"You never know. I thought he would be behind me, or in front of me, or that I’d see him," said Justine Saoi, 19.


Saoi says she still has nightmares about the assault in July and is not ready to fully confront what happened. (CBC News)

Saoi told CBC News she had been in a casual relationship with Zachary Holland, 25, for a year and a half before he allegedly attacked her in her Old Strathcona apartment last July.

She said she had been drinking with Holland that night, when he told her that he had a sexual fetish involving choking another person.

"Next thing, he starts choking me while we’re kissing. He grabs my throat and he slowly starts suffocating me."

Saoi said she kicked Holland off of her and ran to the door to find it locked. Before she could leave the apartment, she alleges he grabbed her hair, pulling her away from the door.

She said he hit her head with a vase, then dragged her to the bathroom before hitting her in the head and face with the lid of the apartment's toilet until she lost consciousness.

"I thought it was going to be the end for me, I thought I wouldn’t get a second chance in this world," she said.

"I’m so thankful I’m here."

Accused arrested in B.C.

Police alleged that, while Saoi was unconscious, Holland started a fire in the apartment and then escaped off the balcony.

Saoi woke up in the hospital with burns over 25 per cent of her body.

"I don’t remember how I got out of the fire, I don’t remember any of that," she said.

In addition to Saoi, three other people in the apartment building suffered minor injuries in the fire.

Holland was charged with attempted murder, assault with a weapon, arson to property and four counts of arson causing bodily harm.

None of the allegations have been proven in court.

A Canada-wide warrant was issued for Holland, who was arrested in British Columbia on unrelated charges.

He was returned to Edmonton Friday to face the charges stemming from the assault.

Reason for attack unknown

Saoi says the arrest came as a relief, but she’s still not sure what prompted the alleged assault.

"He was a nice guy. He was open-minded and understanding. After that night, he was not the guy I thought he was."

Out of hospital and recovering from her injuries, Saoi says she’s still not ready to fully confront what happened that night. She still suffers from nightmares and flashbacks to the attack.