'House of Horrors' Torture Trial Under Way - NBC 5 Dallas-Fort Worth

'House of Horrors' Torture Trial Under Way

Maxwell accused of torturing, sexually assaulting woman for nearly two weeks



    The trial is under way for Jeffrey Maxwell, the man accused of kidnapping and sexually assaulting his former neighbor for nearly two weeks.

    Jurors heard opening arguments Tuesday where prosecutors allege that Maxwell kidnapped his 62-year-old former neighbor from her home near Weatherford last March and took her to his lakeside house in Corsicana.

    Prosecutors said Maxwell tied her up and tortured her for 12 days.

    During those 12 days, the woman's home burned down and Parker County fire marshal Shawn Scott said the cause of that fire was never determined.  Witnesses told investigators they saw Maxwell's car speeding from her home moments before it caught fire and that he had harassed her years before. 

    Trial of Jeffrey Maxwell Gets Under Way

    [DFW] Trial of Jeffrey Maxwell Gets Under Way
    Prosecutors began laying out the gruesome details in their case against Jeffrey Maxwell, he's accused of kidnapping a woman from Parker County and torturing her for two weeks in his Corsicana home.
    (Published Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2012)

    That information, coupled with a check made out to Maxwell from the victim's account, led deputies to his doorstep last March.  Once at his home, authorities started questioning him on tape when all of the sudden a woman can be heard shouting, "I'm here! I’m here!"

    Officers then went into the home and rescued the woman.  Inside Maxwell's farmhouse, police found a bed with chains and leather restraints, handcuffs and ankle restraints, according to court documents.

    "I hope I never see it again," Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said last March after searching Maxwell's home. "To me, it was a house of horrors, and I'm going to let it go at that."

    On tape, jurors heard the woman describe the device Maxwell is alleged to have used to restrain her, "He just hit me with some kind of a whip...it’s in that garage. It pulled me up in the air and scared me to death."

    Maxwell's arrest complaint said he confessed to kidnapping his former neighbor, admitting "he took (her) to his garage and strung her up in a homemade device used for skinning deer."

    Maxwell has also been questioned in the disappearance of Amelia Smith, who disappeared after her home near Azle burned in 2000, and in the disappearance of his former wife, Martha Martinez, who was reported missing in 1992 in Fort Worth.

    The prosecution has nine witnesses they plan to bring to the stand, including the victim herself.

    The trial continues Wednesday.

    NBC 5's Frank Heinz and Scott Gordon contributed to this report.