Woman Recounts Her Story Of A Night Of Horror, Pain

October 06, 1991|By Kris Antonelli | Kris Antonelli,Staff writer

Inside a worn cardboard box, Theresa keeps a book called "GraduationMemories." It's a diary of sorts, yellowed pages filled with concertticket stubs, report cards showing honor roll grades and farewell notes from friends.

As Theresa picks up the scrapbook, worn picturesfall from between the pages. "Oh, look at this," she says, pointing to a snapshot of herself posing in a long white dress with flowers inher hair. She's arm in arm with James, her boyfriend all the way through Annapolis High School.

But Theresa shudders, turning the photographs face down. Five years after the teen-age romance ended, James was charged with raping her.

The case against James is one of hundreds of sexual assault cases that make their way through the county court system every year. Theresa took her case to court and lost, the jury apparently accepting James' insistence that the sex they had was consensual. The names of the victim and that of the defendant, who declined repeated requests to be interviewed, have been changed to protect their privacy.

On April 21, 1988, Theresa says, her life was changed forever when a manburst through her bedroom door. In the dark, she could see only his outline.

The man lunged, placed his hands on her forehead, over her nose and mouth. He pinched her nostrils closed. The screams in her throat were reduced to a whimper.

Although her parents were asleepa floor above, she knew they couldn't hear her. "I can't let this man kill me," she thought.

First, the man raped her, she says. Then she passed out. When she awoke, she was on her stomach and the man was sodomizing her.

Later, Theresa remembers, she was lying on the floor, disoriented, unable to see or hear anything. Her mind was racing. "Is he still here, is he going to kill me now?"

The first soundTheresa heard was the beeping of the phone; it was off the hook. Still, she was not convinced that he was gone. She put the phone back and went upstairs to the kitchen, where she grabbed a big knife.

Afraid her attacker might harm her parents, she went down the hall to their room and looked in. They were asleep.

A glance at her face in the bathroom mirror showed a bleeding lip and a swollen face. Her knees ached. She was a mess.

Theresa picked up the kitchen phone and dialed 911.

County police Officer William Engles was on patrol when a dispatcher sent him to Theresa's parents' home in Annapolis. In the five minutes it took him to arrive, both parents had been awakenedby their daughter's sobbing. They sat in the living room, bewilderedand scared.

"I didn't hear him leave," Theresa told Engles. Stilldressed in a white nightgown, she was trembling. "He may still be inthe basement. Can you check it?"

Engles and another officer foundno one.

Theresa rode in an ambulance to Anne Arundel Medical Center. Her mother and sister followed in their car.

At 5:35 a.m., nurse Donna Poirier began preparing Theresa for the rape exam. Semen samples, hair and fingernail scrapings would all be used later in court.

"It was obvious that she had been traumatized," Poirier testifiedduring the trial almost a year later. "There were bruises and evidence of dried blood. She'd been crying. Her clothes were soiled. I think it was apparent that the young lady had been terrified."

Poiriernoted Theresa's injuries on the emergency room chart. Her lower lip was swollen, bruised and bleeding. She had a bite mark on her left middle finger. Red marks covered her neck and shoulders. There were abrasions on both her knees.

Poirier also noted bruises on her calves, buttocks and just above her hip. She also found some type of army-green colored grease on Theresa's legs and under her fingernails.

"It looked like, I don't want to say grass stains," Poirier would later testify. "The closest thing I might be able to describe it as was camouflage makeup."

Nearly two hours later, Theresa was examined byDr. Yves Jacques Piquion, the doctor on duty in the emergency room. He said he believed Theresa had been forced into whatever activity had caused her injuries.

A county police evidence technician arrivedand took pictures of Theresa that would be used in court. Other technicians went through Theresa's bedroom, gathering up her blankets andsheets. They took a red piece of paper and a piece of used chewing gum from the floor. They dusted the bathroom and basement doors for fingerprints.

After having repeated her story to her parents, Englesand the nurse, Theresa had to recount the horror a fourth time. Detective Ron Sappington asked who she thought did this to her.

Theresa had never seen the man's face. She hesitated, then gave the detective James' name.


Theresa and James dated five years. She was 14, visiting a Parole shopping center with some girlfriends, when theymet.

"As little girls do, we all yelled out our phone numbers to the boys we thought were cute," she remembers.

James was Theresa'sfirst serious boyfriend, and the relationship was intense.

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