Grandmother describes helping woman who escaped being held captive in Excelsior Springs

Published: Jan. 2, 2023 at 6:07 PM CST
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CLAY COUNTY, Mo. (KCTV) - Nearly three months after an extensive investigation began into a rape and kidnapping, Rose Crowley is speaking about the morning she helped a woman on her granddaughter’s front porch.

Crowley said the first sound that caught her attention was the sound of someone stepping onto the porch. Then, she heard a woman’s voice say, “Please help me. I’ve been raped.”

“I think I was put there to help her,” Crowley said. “So, I opened the door for her. She came in and she says, ‘I’ve been raped and held hostage since September.’”

Timothy M. Haslett Jr. is charged with rape, kidnapping and second-degree assault. The woman told police Haslett picked her up along Prospect Avenue in early September and held her against her will in a room he built in his basement off Old Orchard Avenue. Court records state that, while executing a search warrant at the home, investigators observed a room in the basement consistent with the woman’s description.

Around 7:45 a.m. on Oct. 7, 2022, Crowley was babysitting at her granddaughter’s home. She remembers hearing the woman’s plea for help.

“She was shaking from her toes to the top of her head,” Crowley said. “She was shaking so bad. She was so afraid he was going to show up.”

Crowley said the woman had duct tape, a padlocked metal collar around her neck and ligature marks on her wrists. The woman told Crowley when Haslett Jr. left his home with his son, she escaped.

“I never doubted her story, not for one minute,” Crowley said.

Police quickly arrived at the home of her granddaughter, Ciara Tharp, which is just down the street from Haslett’s home. Crowley said that, as police began to investigate, she focused on being calm and comforting.

“I put a blanket around her and got her some muffins,” Crowley said. “Those little bitty muffins that come in a bag. I gave her a couple of those and some water.”

At the time, she asked police for permission to hug the woman.

“He said, yes. So, I just sat there and held her,” Crowley said.

While comforting the woman, Crowley said the woman told her she’d celebrated her birthday while being held against her will.

“We went and bought her a blanket,” Crowley said. “A throw blanket and a little pillow. I bought a birthday card to give to her and we took it to the police station.”

Crowley received a card of her own. Someone anonymously sent a letter to her granddaughter’s home. The letter said: “To Ciara Tharp’s grandmother, one incredible woman. There is nothing more beautiful than someone who goes out of their way to make life beautiful for others. Thank you and may God bless you.”

Looking back on that morning, Crowley believes she was meant to answer the door that day.

“I helped her,” Crowley said. “I did the best I know how. I think the good Lord put me there.”

The woman who escaped told Crowley and the police that Haslett had killed her friends. The Clay County Investigative Squad Task Force was activated to investigate if there are any additional victims or crimes committed.

In October, investigators said they “checked with law enforcement agencies in the Kansas City metropolitan area and there are no current missing persons reports that correspond with the evidence examined so far in this investigation.” The investigation is ongoing.

“That’s the law end of it,” Crowley said. “I’m more concerned about her.”

Crowley said she hopes the woman can receive any help that she may need to heal.

“I’m not the hero; she is,” Crowley said. “It took nerve to try to get away.”

Haslett was arrested on Oct. 7 when he returned to his home. According to court records, while inside of an ambulance, the woman identified his home as the location where she was held captive.

Haslett remains in custody. A docket call hearing is scheduled for Jan. 10. A new preliminary hearing date has not yet been set.

Previous coverage:

Multiple agencies join forces in investigation of Timothy Haslett, Jr.

Prosecutor asks anyone with info on Excelsior Springs rape, kidnapping case to come forward

Video shows police taking rape, kidnapping suspect Timothy Haslett Jr. into custody

Not guilty plea entered for Timothy Haslett Jr., charged in Excelsior Springs investigation

Court docs: Excelsior Springs victim escaped basement while duct-taped, wearing metal collar

Excelsior Springs home boarded up, fenced in as investigation continues

Businesses support Excelsior Springs police as investigation continues

Police: ‘Numerous items’ recovered from scene in Excelsior Springs, will be examined in upcoming week

Police: Investigation in Excelsior Springs still active, no new information released

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

Excelsior Springs man charged with rape, kidnapping; victim ‘stable’ in hospital