FIRST ON 3: Police investigating 2 possible attempted rapes
By Matt Barbour, Weekend Anchor/Reporter - bio | email
CHATTANOOGA, TN (WRCB) -
CHATTANOOGA (WRCB) - A Chattanooga woman is still shaken up about what she says happened in her home Sunday night.
After Channel 3 was tipped off to the crimes on Tuesday, Chattanooga Police eventually confirmed they are investigating complaints where a man "unlawfully entered" two separate homes in North Chattanooga on Sunday night. Elizabeth Southall says she is one of the victims and believes the man planned to rape her.
Police say both female victims screamed from their homes which caused the suspect to run away and that no sexual assaults occurred.
Southall says she had fallen asleep at her apartment on Glenroy Avenue. When she woke up, a strange man was on top her. She suspects he climbed in through a window.
Elizabeth Southall says she and her boyfriend just moved into their apartment about a month and a half ago. She is convinced her attacker was watching their place, saying he broke in while her boyfriend was at work.
"I've always been worried about somebody breaking in and doing this. And so your worst fear actually coming true, is just, it's really scary," says Elizabeth Southall.
Southall came home from work Sunday night and fell asleep on the couch watching television, but was jolted awake around 11:00 p.m.
"That's when I was woken up by a guy, just on top of me," she says.
At first she did not know what was going on.
"I actually thought it was a dream when it was first happening."
Then she quickly realized his intentions.
"He came with a condom, ready," she says.
Elizabeth started fighting for her life.
"I was moving around, squirming, pushing him off me so he wasn't actually able to do what he wanted to do," says Southall.
She says the man, dressed in all black, said she owed him money. She pleaded, saying she would pay him.
"We struggled for a while and actually pushed him off of me, and started screaming and scratching him."
It turns out a neighbor walking her dog heard her screams and her attacker knew he had been spotted.
"When he went to the door, I saw that his pants were still down," she says.
He ran out the door and into the night before police arrived. Elizabeth says she will do whatever it takes to make sure he is caught.
"I could have just let this go and not gotten DNA samples like the police told me to. I didn't want to give up. I want something to come from this."
Looking back, she is grateful to be alive.
"I'm very lucky. He could have had a weapon. The way that he had me, he could have snapped my neck. It's so many things. I'm just really lucky," says Southall.
Elizabeth and her boyfriend have already found a new place to live. She says an investigator took fingerprints and DNA samples.
Police did not notify the public of these two incidents until Channel 3 first reported the story on Tuesday. Following our story at 6:00, CPD Spokesman Nathan Hartwig issued a news release to say, "Detectives are actively investigating all leads and extra patrol has been assigned."
Elizabeth says she was able to provide a vague description of the suspect to police including dark skin, short in height, and wearing white sneakers. Police have not offered specifics of the person they are looking for.