CORSICANA, Texas – A woman who was abducted at gunpoint and tortured for two weeks by a rejected suitor burst outside screaming "I'm here! I'm here!" when she heard sheriff's deputies at his home, authorities said Monday.
The 62-year-old woman's injuries were visible Saturday when she ran out of the "house of horrors" in Navarro County where she had been held captive since her March 1 abduction from her house more than 100 miles away, said Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler. Authorities had been searching for her since her Parker County house had burned down two days after she was kidnapped -- a fire that authorities believe was set by the same man charged in her kidnapping.
Fowler said it was not yet clear how the woman was able to escape. Investigators searching the house later discovered a hidden area built to keep someone restrained, Fowler said.
"He held her for 13 days. I don't know how much longer she could have lasted," Fowler told The Associated Press on Monday. "She had restraint marks on her wrists, and he had hit her on the head. Her hands were cut up, and her eyes were black."
After Jeffrey Allan Maxwell's arrest in the woman's kidnapping and assault, the sheriff said he asked the Texas Rangers to help look into two cold cases: the disappearance of Maxwell's ex-wife, who has been missing since 1992, and a Parker County woman who has not been seen since her mobile home was destroyed in a 2000 fire.
Fowler said investigators with cadaver dogs have searched Maxwell's house but found no bodies. It's unclear if Maxwell knew the missing Parker County woman whose house burned, and the sheriff declined to elaborate on the case.
Deputies were following a tip when they went to Maxwell's one-story home in Corsicana on Saturday. Fowler said Maxwell walked outside and said he knew nothing about the woman, who had complained to friends for years that he made unwanted advances toward her before he moved out of Parker County in 2007. Deputies then heard a noise inside the house just before she ran out.
Maxwell, 58, remained jailed Monday on charges of aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault. Parker County Jail records did not indicate whether he had an attorney.
The woman was treated for her injuries and is in protective custody, Fowler said. The AP generally does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
After the woman's house burned down March 3 and investigators found no signs of her, they had no idea she had been kidnapped and began an extensive search.
Neighbors told investigators about her previous concerns about Maxwell, and then a blue car reportedly seen at the woman's house the day of the fire matched the description of his car, Fowler said.
The sheriff said the abduction seemed carefully planned but that he could not explain the timing.
"We're still trying to come up with a reason for this," Fowler said.