A North Texas woman who was abducted at gunpoint by a rejected suitor, then assaulted and held captive for two weeks, finally escaped when she heard sheriff's deputies outside his home, authorities said Monday.
The visibly injured 62-year-old woman screamed "I'm here! I'm here!" as she ran out of Jeffrey Allan Maxwell's one-story house near Corsicana on Saturday. She had been held captive there since her March 1 abduction from her home more than 100 miles away in Parker County, authorities said.
"I hope I never see it again," Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said. "To me, it was a house of horrors, and I'm going to let it go at that."
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Fowler said it was not yet clear how she was able to escape, but that it's possible she was not restrained the entire time she was at the house.
"It was a horrendous ordeal," he said. "I mean, it was something out of a horror movie. I think we are very fortunate we got her back, very fortunate."
Fowler told The Associated Press on Monday that the woman was held for 13 days.
"I don't know how much longer she could have lasted," he said. "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."
When deputies went to the home in rural Navarro County, Maxwell walked outside his home and said he knew nothing about the woman, Fowler said. Then deputies heard a noise inside just before she ran out.
"He heard a noise coming from the house, like somebody moving across the floor, and all of a sudden, the door burst open as she came rushing out screaming, 'I'm here, I'm here," Fowler said.
Authorities charged Maxwell, 58, with aggravated kidnapping and aggravated sexual assault. Maxwell is being held in the Parker County Jail, and jail records indicate he doesn't yet have an attorney.
The woman was treated for her injuries and is in protective custody, Fowler said. The AP does not identify alleged victims of sexual assault.
Parker County authorities began searching for the woman after her house burned down March 3, but at first had no idea she had been abducted. After sifting through the charred remains of her home, about 50 miles west of Fort Worth, and using dogs and helicopters to search the area, investigators were baffled.
"We just could not find this lady," Fowler said.
Then someone reported that a blue car had been in the woman's driveway the day of the fire, Fowler said. Investigators also learned that the woman had complained to her friends that Maxwell had made unwanted advances toward her several years ago when he lived near her, Fowler said. The car's description matched Maxwell's vehicle, so authorities began investigating him.
Maxwell has not been charged in connection with the fire, but authorities believe he returned to the woman's house and set the blaze two days after he kidnapped her, Fowler said.
Investigators from Parker and Navarro counties and the Texas Rangers continued collecting evidence at Maxwell's house on Monday.
"We're still trying to come up with a reason for this," Fowler said.
Neighbors described Maxwell as opinionated and obnoxious, but said they never thought he was capable of holding a woman captive and assaulting her.
"At first we thought it was a misunderstanding or a miscommunication or something, but when we found out it was really true, it was like, 'Wow.'" We didn't know what to think' we've known him for so long," neighbor Melissa Randal said.
NBC DFW's Grant Stinchfield and Kim Fischer contributed to this report.