‘She was terrified’: Neighbors help woman held against her will, sexually assaulted

Neighbor Lisa Johnson noticed the woman hunched over and nearly crawling toward her and called the police.
Published: Oct. 7, 2022 at 6:06 PM CDT|Updated: Oct. 7, 2022 at 10:03 PM CDT
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EXCELSIOR SPRINGS, Mo. (KCTV) - Neighbors helped a woman who was going door to door screaming for help around 7:47 a.m. Friday. She told neighbors and police she escaped a home where she was held against her will and sexually assaulted near Old Orchard Avenue and south Kimball Avenue.

Police executed a search warrant at the home Friday during a kidnapping and sexual assault investigation.

Neighbor Lisa Johnson noticed the woman hunched over and nearly crawling toward her. Johnson said it was obvious the woman had experienced trauma. She had marks on her wrist and face. Johnson called police.

“Her face was bound, and she had taken that off. She had some kind of collar device on,” Johnson said. “She told me that she was being held and that the person she was being held by lived up the street.”

While Johnson called 911, neighbor Ciara Tharp’s grandmother let the woman inside of Tharp’s home.

“My grandma said she had a metal collar around her neck pretty tight. It was restricting her breathing,” Tharp said. “She had ligature marks on her wrists. She could tell she was pretty weak. She brought her inside and gave her some food and wrapped a blanket around her.”

Both neighbors say the woman said she escaped when the man briefly left his home.

“She was terrified. She said, ‘If somebody doesn’t let me in, he’s going to find me and he’s going to kill me,’” Tharp said. “I mean, he was not that far away. He was within a couple of minutes away.”

ALSO READ: Law enforcement investigating reported kidnapping, sexual assault in Excelsior Springs

Police say the woman’s description of what happened to her brought them to the home off Old Orchard Street. Investigators spent hours Friday executing a search warrant at the home. Officers took a potential suspect into custody and do not believe any other suspects are involved.

“She made the comment that he killed my friends. They didn’t make it. He killed my friends,” Tharp said. “She just kept repeating it.”

Excelsior Springs Police Lt Ryan Dowdy said investigators are actively working to investigate what the woman told officers happened to her and potential other victims.

“We have no further victims that we are aware of at this specific moment in time. We are still processing the warrant and that all is subject to change,” Dowdy said. “She made mention of other victims, but there’s no signs of them at this time that we have found.”

Both neighbors hope the woman who escaped will be able to heal. “I know that she’s in a better place right now than she was,” Johnson said.

According to investigators, the woman reported that she did not know the suspect who was holding her against her will.

“I’m so glad that she made it out. I hope that she can get the help she needs to deal with this,” Tharp said. “I’m so thankful that my grandma was there.”