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FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 14, 2007
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Real-life urban legend: Woman says assailant hid in her SUV

By Holly Hollman
hhollman@decaturdaily.com 340-2445

If this story reads like a movie scene, that's because the Calhoun student's ordeal has similarities to a scene in the movie "Urban Legend."

The movie is about a group of college students who discover that urban legends are occurring on and around their campus.

In the movie, a gas attendant notices an attacker hiding in the back of a woman's vehicle. When he tries to get her inside the store, she fears the attendant is trying to attack her and drives off, not knowing a killer is in the vehicle.

In this newspaper story, the college student's fear is real, and her story does not end with credits scrolling on a screen but with her would-be attacker still at large.

Limestone County Sheriff's Department Chief Investigator Stanley McNatt said the 23-year-old Somerville woman's Wednesday evening started with her driving to a class at Calhoun Community College.

She stopped at Somerville Grocery on Alabama 67 and did not lock her vehicle, a Mercury Mountaineer.

The Mountaineer is a sport utility vehicle big enough to seat seven people.

McNatt said she arrived for her 4:30 p.m. class at Calhoun, parked behind Harris Hall and locked her SUV.

She remained on campus until about 9 p.m. She used her secret code to unlock the SUV.

As she drove, she talked on her cell phone to her brother.

"When she got on the river bridge on Interstate 65, a white male sat up in the very back of her vehicle," McNatt said. "He said he wanted her to take him somewhere."

The woman's brother heard a scream and then lost the phone connection with his sister.

"She told the kidnapper, 'No,' and he said he had a gun and started climbing over the seats," McNatt said. "She slammed on her brakes, put the vehicle in park and got out."

The man crawled to the front seat, grabbed a pack of cigarettes and walked away.

"She said he had what appeared to be a gun in his hand," McNatt said. "She waited until he was far enough away and got back into her vehicle and drove to a service station at the Priceville exit and called 911."

Limestone initially got the case because it was thought the man got into her vehicle at Calhoun.

McNatt said the woman is adamant that the only time she did not lock her SUV was at Somerville Grocery.

"Since she drives an SUV, it would be easy for him to hide," McNatt said. "She believes he was in her vehicle the entire time she was driving to Calhoun and while she was at Calhoun."

McNatt said his investigators, Josh McLaughlin and Leslie Ramsey, turned over their case information to Somerville Police Chief Joe Mann on Thursday afternoon.

The chief did not return a call from The Daily.

McNatt said the victim described her would-be attacker as having a bad odor. He was dressed in a white or gray T-shirt with holes in it and blue jeans. He has red, neck-length hair. He is between 5 feet, 6 inches and 5 feet, 8 inches tall and weighs about 170 pounds.

Anyone who saw something suspicious at Somerville Grocery on Wednesday or who may have seen a man fitting the victim's description can call Somerville police at 778-8282.

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