Texas torture victim calls survival ‘miracle’

Feb 23, 2012, 12:54 PM

Associated Press

WEATHERFORD, Texas (AP) – After searching more than a week for a woman who seemingly vanished after her house burned down, authorities finally got a lead: Jeffrey Allan Maxwell.

He had just cashed a $500 check from her, and his car matched the description of one seen driving down the rural road the day of the fire, but Maxwell hadn’t lived in the area in years. On that Friday last March, Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler could have waited until Monday to send his investigators some 100 miles away to Corsicana _ after all, it was a gamble. But in his gut, Fowler knew they had to act fast.

When investigators knocked on Maxwell’s door the next day, Lois Pearson was inside, praying. Since her abduction 12 days earlier, she had been chained to the bed every night. She had been whipped and sexually assaulted on a bar with hooks for skinning hogs and deer. When Maxwell left the house, he kept her shackled and gagged and once locked her in a wooden box. Maxwell had told her that she soon wouldn’t believe in God anymore.

But Pearson wasn’t restrained that day and ran outside a few minutes after Maxwell went on the porch to talk to authorities _ who were stunned to see her. They had no idea she’d been kidnapped March 1; her house was torched March 3. It was the beginning of the end of her ordeal, which finally was over Wednesday when Maxwell was sentenced to life in prison.

“I want you to know there is a God, and he answered my prayers to spare my life,” Pearson, 63, said in court Wednesday after the sentencing. As she read from a statement she prepared, several jurors wiped away tears. “It’s a miracle that I am alive.”

Maxwell, 59, will be eligible for parole after serving 60 years because the judge ordered him to serve two of his three life sentences consecutively. The same jury convicted Maxwell a day earlier of aggravated kidnapping and two counts of aggravated sexual assault. He faced a minimum sentence of probation since he had no previous felony convictions.

State District Judge Trey Loftin told Maxwell that he had preyed on the “least, lost, little and last” and called him a “nightmare.”

Parker County prosecutor Jeff Swain said Maxwell has shown a pattern of acting on his sexual fantasies by abusing women _ from stealing panties to torturing Pearson.

Authorities seized numerous items from Maxwell’s house about 50 miles south of Dallas, including sex toys, an 8-foot-long whip, handcuffs, duct tape and DVDs with bondage and rape scenes.

In a recorded interview with authorities after his arrest, Maxwell told an investigator that he’d never done anything like that “to a complete stranger,” later saying he had tried bondage with his second wife and even used a stun gun on her.

Maxwell tells an investigator he had sexual fantasies about bondage but never gives a reason for abducting and torturing Pearson. At one point he blames his “stupidity” and another time tells investigators he doesn’t “know all the whys” when asked what could have led him _ then the vice president of the Kiwanis Club in Corsicana _ down this path.

When asked about the numerous pairs of panties found in his house, Maxwell initially says they were “souvenirs” from ex-girlfriends. But then he says he stole panties from the daughters of several girlfriends without their knowledge about 30 or 40 times, according to the recordings shown to jurors during the seven-day trial.

“That’s what this defendant feeds off of. He takes the most intimate piece of apparel … without consent,” Parker County prosecutor Kathleen Catania told jurors Wednesday in seeking the maximum sentence. “This defendant is what gives people nightmares. … He is pure and unadulterated evil as he sits there.”

But defense attorney James Wilson said if jurors sentenced Maxwell to probation, he would be a registered sex offender and could be forced to wear an ankle monitor and undergo counseling.

“What he did to her was horrible at first and then it started tapering off. Why? I don’t know,” Wilson told jurors. “… Only y’all can figure out what’s in his heart of hearts.”

Defense attorneys called no witnesses during the trial. They declined to comment after the sentencing.

The Associated Press generally does not identify victims of sexual assault. But with the trial over, Pearson said she wanted her identity revealed to share her story of survival.

She told news reporters that she is trying to forgive Maxwell, although she believes he robbed her of a special place in heaven by taking her virginity. The deeply religious woman has never been married and said she had no sexual experiences before her abduction.

“My religious faith teaches (forgiveness), and I certainly don’t want to go to hell over not forgiving that man,” Pearson said.

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

United States News

Associated Press

Oregon power company to pay nearly $300 million to settle latest lawsuit over 2020 wildfires

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Electricity utility PacifiCorp will pay $299 million to settle a lawsuit brought by about 220 customers who were harmed by devastating wildfires in southern Oregon in 2020. The settlement announced Tuesday comes after the utility lost a similar lawsuit in June for wildfires in other parts of the state, The Oregonian […]

4 minutes ago

Associated Press

2 bodies found in creeks as atmospheric river drops record-breaking rain in Pacific Northwest

PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) — Authorities in Oregon were investigating the deaths of two people whose bodies were found in creeks this week as an atmospheric river brought heavy rain, flooding and unseasonably warm temperatures to the Pacific Northwest. The U.S. Coast Guard rescued five people from flooded areas on Tuesday and the conditions also closed […]

16 minutes ago

Associated Press

Maryland attorney general wants new hearing in gun licensing case

BALTIMORE (AP) — After a federal appeals court struck down Maryland’s handgun licensing law last month, the state attorney general is requesting a new hearing where more judges would consider the case, which could have significant implications for gun rights across the country. On Nov. 21, a three-judge panel on the 4th U.S. Circuit Court […]

32 minutes ago

FILE - Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, R-Calif., talks to reporters after a closed-door meetin...

Associated Press

GOP Rep. Kevin McCarthy of California is resigning, 2 months after his ouster as House speaker

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Two months after his historic ouster as House speaker, Republican Rep. Kevin McCarthy announced Wednesday that he is resigning from his congressional seat in California. His announcement capped a stunning end for the one-time deli owner from Bakersfield, who ascended through state and national politics to become second in line to […]

51 minutes ago

Norman Lear (top center), who died Tuesday, Dec. 5, 2023, at age 101, poses with "All in the Family...

Associated Press

Norman Lear, producer of TV’s ‘All in the Family’ and influential liberal advocate, has died at 101

Norman Lear, the writer, director and producer who revolutionized prime time television with such topical hits as "All in the Family" and “Maude,” has died.

1 hour ago

Associated Press

Republican prosecutor will appeal judge’s ruling invalidating Wisconsin’s 174-year-old abortion ban

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — A Republican prosecutor said Tuesday that he plans to appeal a court ruling that Wisconsin law permits consensual medical abortions, the first step toward a potential showdown in the state Supreme Court over abortion rights. Sheboygan County District Attorney Joel Urmanski issued a statement through his attorneys saying that he disagrees […]

1 hour ago

Sponsored Articles


Dierdre Woodruff

Interest rates may have peaked. Should you buy a CD, high-yield savings account, or a fixed annuity?

Interest rates are the highest they’ve been in decades, and it looks like the Fed has paused hikes. This may be the best time to lock in rates for long-term, low-risk financial products like fixed annuities.

Follow @KTAR923...

The 2023 Diamondbacks are a good example to count on the underdog

The Arizona Diamondbacks made the World Series as a surprise. That they made the playoffs at all, got past the Milwaukee Brewers in the NL Wild Card round, swept the Los Angeles Dodgers in the NLDS and won two road games in Philadelphia to close out a full seven-game NLCS went against every expectation. Now, […]



Importance of AC maintenance after Arizona’s excruciating heat wave

An air conditioning unit in Phoenix is vital to living a comfortable life inside, away from triple-digit heat.

Texas torture victim calls survival ‘miracle’