Dallas - A man accused of kidnapping a 62-year-old woman and sexually assaulting her over a two-week period confessed to an investigator that he “strung her up” in his garage on a rack used for skinning deer and tortured her, a sheriff's investigator said.
Jeffrey A Maxwell, 58, told a Texas Ranger after his arrest Saturday that he abducted the woman at gunpoint from her home near Fort Worth, handcuffed her and drove her more than 160km to his home in Corsicana, 80km south of Dallas, a Parker County sheriff's investigator swore in a probable cause affidavit released Monday. Authorities also indicated that they're looking into whether Maxwell might have been behind the disappearance of two other women, including an ex-wife.
According to the sheriff's investigator, the Ranger said Maxwell told him that once he got the woman home, he “strung her up” on a homemade rack in his garage and sexually assaulted her. Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler said Tuesday that the rack was an electric device that enabled Maxwell to hoist the woman off the ground.
“I've been in this business 48 years, and I've never seen anything like this,” Fowler said.
Fowler said the woman, who lived alone and has little family, is staying at a shelter for abused women.
“This lady needs help,” he said.
Fowler declined to elaborate about the affidavit, including Maxwell's alleged claim that he was paid $2 500 from unnamed individuals to make the woman “go away.” Authorities have not indicated that they're investigating anyone else in the case.
Maxwell is in the Parker County jail on two counts of aggravated sexual assault and one count of aggravated kidnapping. His bond was set at $400 000. Fowler said Tuesday that Maxwell did not have an attorney, and jail records did not indicate whether he had one. Two of Maxwell's grown sons did not immediately respond to phone messages left Tuesday seeking comment.
Authorities began searching for the woman after her home burned down March 3. According to the affidavit, investigators believe Maxwell abducted the woman March 1 and returned to her home two days later to torch it. Authorities say Maxwell moved to Corsicana from Parker County in 2007 and had a history of harassing the woman.
The Sheriff's Office indicated in the court filing that it is investigating whether Maxwell might have been involved in the 1992 disappearance of Martha Martinez Maxwell, his wife at the time, and of Amelia Smith, a woman who hasn't been seen since her Parker County home burned in 2000.
Maxwell was arrested on an aggravated assault charge in 1987 after Martha was found in Oklahoma badly wounded with her throat slashed. She told police at the time that her husband bound her with duct tape, drugged her and sexually assaulted her, although she said she couldn't remember details of the alleged attack that happened after she was drugged. A grand jury in Fort Worth declined to indict Jeffrey Maxwell.
Martha Maxwell's relatives last spoke with her sometime in May 1992, and were suspicious after receiving a letter she supposedly sent soon after that saying she was leaving her husband, who filed for divorce from Martha a few years later.
“It was odd because she would have just called us, and where would she go?” her brother, Javier Martinez of Denver, told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “We got worried and I talked to Jeff. He said she left, and he hung up on me. I knew then that he did something to her.”
The other cold case is under investigation because of the similarity to the circumstances that led to Maxwell's arrest, Fowler said.
On Tuesday, investigators returned to the charred remains of the home of the victim in the ongoing case to search for more evidence, the sheriff said. - Sapa-AP