DENVER (CBS4) — A Colorado woman says she was choked, stripped almost naked, and tied up by a sex offender while walking on a trail in Littleton early Wednesday morning. Vanessa, who didn’t want us to use her last name, posted photos of her injuries on Facebook — along with a warning to other women.
“I‘m not a victim, I survived, I kept fighting and I am survivor,” Vanessa told CBS4 reporter Karen Morfitt
Vanessa, 29, said she was walking her dog Berreta on her “regular loop” on the Platte River Trail when she spotted a man she remembered seeing the day before.
“He didn’t make eye contact with me and I got a very strange vibe. Somehow he made it on the other side of the loop, meaning he must’ve cut through the woods somewhere knowing where I was headed,” Vanessa wrote on Facebook.
Vanessa said she passed the man and about 30 seconds later he came up behind her.
“I saw he had a rope in his hands and at that point he was too close to try and put any distance between us,” Vanessa wrote.
“He strangled me from behind and drug me into the woods about 15 feet off the trail where he removed almost all of my clothes,” Vanessa shared. “He continued to choke me using his hands, the rope, and with a bandana (sic) of some sort.”
“I fought like hell and screamed my brains out, even my sweet dog tried to fight him and bite him as much as she could,” Vanessa wrote.
“He threatened to kill me,” she stated. “I thought that this could be the end but I was not about to give up fighting for my life.”
Vanessa said the man hog tied her from her neck to her wrists and then to her ankles.
You can see the injuries to her neck in the photos taken in the hospital.
Vanessa said the man said he would let her go, but that he needed to find his glasses first. While he was searching for the glasses, Vanessa made her escape.
“I somehow managed to sit up and was able to reach the knot around my ankles and free myself,” Vanessa wrote. “I had no choice at that point but to run for my life as fast as I could.”
“I made it to the bike path almost completely naked screaming for help. I’m so thankful there were people around that ultimately were able to protect me,” Vanessa shared.
Vanessa said a man on a bike chased down her attacker and was able to restrain him until police arrived.
“HE IS IN CUSTODY. He is a registered sex offender and has multiple warrants out for his arrest, the detectives are very confident he won’t be seeing light of day for a very very long time, if not ever,” Vanessa wrote.
The Littleton Police Department identified the suspect as 48-year-old Johnny Dewayne Harris. Harris has no known address and is thought to be homeless. Harris was jailed at the Arapahoe County Detention Center and is charged with sexual assault and kidnapping.
Police are requesting that his picture not be shown during their investigation.
“This was the worst day of my life but I knew I had to fight, it simply wasn’t my time to die,” Vanessa wrote.
She was expecting to be released from the hospital on Thursday.
“I am putting this post up to remind each and every one of you, please be aware of your surroundings at all times. Even if you have been on your local path, your grocery store parking lot, or anywhere 100 times, danger can exist anywhere. I am lucky to be alive, so please have a plan in place to protect yourself from whatever may be out there.”