AUGUSTA — Guerrette father and son, in matching white polo shirts with green logos, surveyed painters atop scaffolding rolling swaths of gray on the new walls of an apartment overlooking the Kennebec River.

The Riverview Terrace apartment was a two-day job for Wow 1 Day Painting, owned equally by William G. Guerrette Jr. and son Ryan Guerrette, both of Pittston.

On Thursday they talked of how operating this franchise has brought both men closer together and helped to heal wounds the Guerrette family suffered in a nightmare that began seven years ago.

Six months after the November 2007 theft of a safe from the Guerrette home, two intruders armed with a machete and bent on vengeance after one them had been accused of the theft, broke in late one night, terrorizing the five Guerrettes inside, maiming William Guerrette Sr. and leaving 10-year-old Nicole “Nikki” Guerrette for dead.

Today William Guerrette, 55, still bears the visible scars. There’s no disguising his missing finger, but his hair now covers the scars on his head.

“They did surgery on my head and made me look a lot prettier,” he said. “It’s incredible.”

He held out his left forearm, where a long, purple bruise-like scar is visible just under the skin.

“Given it looked like linked sausage, I’m doing pretty good,” he said.

The night of the home invasion, Nikki had awakened to the noises and gone to the top of the stairs. Her father, struggling against a machete-wielding marauder, tried to talk her back to bed.

But she was attacked next, her head split open so badly with the machete that the first deputy arriving on scene thought she was dead. She and her father spent weeks in the hospital after the attack.

“I woke up and I had to learn to talk all over again,” she told the judge at a sentencing hearing for one of the men. “Now things that used to come easy to me are now hard.”

Nikki is 17 now and a high school senior, attending a charter school in North Salt Lake, Utah, which specializes in educating students with traumatic brain injuries, autism and other problems. There she is vice president of the senior class and captain of the basketball team.

“She’s doing great,” her father said.

William Guerrette’s wife, Melanie, stays in Utah near relatives during the school year, and both mother and daughter fly home to Maine for holidays, vacation and summers.

“I was only 17, 18 when that happened, and it takes a lot to get over that. It’s my dad and my sister,” said Ryan Guerrette, who managed to escape from the house uninjured. “I dealt a long time with blaming myself.”

He had been friends with Daniel Fortune, the home invader who earlier had stolen the safe. Fortune is serving a life sentence for the attack. Fortune’s foster brother, Leo Hylton, whom the elder Guerrette identified as the man he fought with, is serving a 50-year sentence.

Ryan Guerrette’s life has changed for the better, however. After high school, he went on to learn the construction skills that allow him to be the working half of the partnership.

“I have a beautiful daughter now, and starting this now allows me to make a name for myself in business,” said Ryan Guerrette, 25. “I already knew how to paint.” He also knows how to do flooring, pointing to the gray tiles on the hallway floor.

“What he didn’t have was experience running an independent business on his own,” William Guerrette said. “I started businesses with my brothers and one son. This is my chance to do something special with my other son.”

Betty Adams — 621-5631

[email protected]

Twitter: @betadams

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