In a recording played for jurors Thursday afternoon, kidnapping suspect Jeffrey Allan Maxwell admitted to investigators that he abducted his former neighbor at gunpoint, beat her and hung her from a hog-gutting lift in his garage while he performed sexual acts on her without asking her permission.
Maxwell pleaded not guilty Tuesday to a charge of aggravated kidnapping and two charges of aggravated sexual assault. Wednesday, his former neighbor, a 63-year-old Whitt woman took the stand and described to jurors 12 days of beatings, sexual assault, torture and fear before investigators found her at his Corsicana home while following up on a March 3 fire that destroyed her home.
During an interview with Texas Ranger Tony Bradford and a Navarro County sheriff’s deputy shortly after his arrest March 12, Maxwell told them he took the woman from her home after a struggle. After she escaped, he said he had to chase her down the road in his vehicle and pull a gun on her to get her inside.
“When you went up and got her, she didn’t want to come with you did she?” Bradford asked, and Maxwell said "No."
“Did she fight you?” Bradford asked and Maxwell said "Yes."
He put the bruises on her with a rolling pin, which he took from her house, Maxwell said.
He tied her up with handcuffs while transporting her in the back of his vehicle, according to Maxwell’s account.
During the interview, which lasted well over an hour, Maxwell did not tell investigators why he took the woman.
Maxwell said the woman, who the Democrat is not identifying because she is a possible victim of sexual assault, was more of an acquaintance to him than in a relationship with him.
“Well I got into a situation I didn’t know how to get out of,” Maxwell said, later saying he wanted to let her go but then her house burned down.
Though a description of a blue car with a handicap sign seen in the area at the time of the fire helped lead investigators to Maxwell, according to testimony, he denied any involvement in the fire or being in the area at the time during the interview.
She was scared and asked him all the time if he was going to kill her, Maxwell said.
Maxwell, contradicting the woman’s testimony Wednesday, said he told her “it was not going to happen.”
When asked how he treated her, Maxwell told investigators, “sitting around reading the Bible with her.”
They would pray all day long, Maxwell said, later clarifying that the woman prayed and he asked her to pray for him.
Maxwell did say he chained her to the bed and gagged her at times, according to the recording.
Asked if the woman wanted to leave him, Maxwell told Bradford “she wasn’t restrained.”
“She wasn’t restrained?” Bradford asked.
“Just at night,” Maxwell said.
Asked where he restrained her, Maxwell said, “Just to the bed.”
Maxwell said he had sex with her once or twice.
“She told me if I wanted [to] go ahead,” Maxwell said.
However, Maxwell described using a sexual toy to penetrate the woman as she hung in his garage and said he did not ask her for permission.
Asked if he believed the woman freely consented after her violent abduction, Maxwell answered “That’s a good question.”
“I don’t have them any more,” Maxwell said when Bradford asked if he had trouble holding down sexual desires.
Bradford asked Maxwell why he lied when, prior to the woman exiting the house, he initially told investigators that he had not seen the woman in years and no one else was home.
“Because you caught me by surprise,” Maxwell said. “I wasn’t expecting the sheriff’s department today.”
Maxwell added that the woman had been with him for 10 days.
At one point, Bradford told him it looked like Maxwell may have been holding the woman, preparing to kill her.
“No, I would never kill her,” Maxwell said. “I’ve been sitting around every day trying to figure out how to get out of this.”
Seeing the missing woman they were looking for walk out the door of suspect Jeffrey Allan Maxwell’s house on March 12, investigators experienced a couple seconds of shock with their “mouths hanging open,” Texas Ranger Anthony Bradford told jurors.
That’s not what they were expecting, Bradford said Thursday morning.
When he noticed the bruising on her face and neck, he pinned Maxwell up against the porch wall and asked Sgt. Ricky Montgomery to handcuff him.
He described the woman’s demeanor as “excited.”
While conducting a protective sweep of the house, Bradford said he noticed several items that concerned him, including a bra and what appeared to be torn woman’s clothing with duct tape on the floor of the garage and chains attached to a bed in the bedroom, along with handcuffs and various items of a sexual nature.
Bradford, who participated in two days of collecting evidence from Maxwell’s home, told jurors he didn’t believe the winch and lift in the garage was designed for the purpose of cleaning hogs as Maxwell described in the interview.
“In my experience, it’s not set up to do that,” Bradford, who has experience hunting, said, adding that cleaning dead animals is messy, something the garage did not appear to facilitate. “It doesn’t look like the set up to skin deer or hogs.”
Bradford helped assistant district attorneys Jeff Swain and Kathleen Catania demonstrate using seized evidence how a person or animal could be tied to the long metal bar and hoisted into the air.
Alleged victim testimony
The 63-year-old woman who described 12 days of abuse for jurors during four hours of testimony Wednesday was cross-examined by defense attorneys in a much shorter period of time Thursday morning.
The woman told jurors that when she initially told investigators in the moments after leaving the house that Maxwell was good to her, he was her friend and he didn’t do anything, she wasn’t telling the truth.
“I was traumatized, injured,” the woman said. “I was in a state of shock.”
She added she didn’t remember what she had said.
The woman told jurors she had never been asked to provide a written statement following the incident and there were no recorded interviews except for the recording that documented her exiting the home and her statements to investigators in the minutes afterward, played for jurors Tuesday.
The incident has also impacted the Whitt woman’s beliefs about her half brothers, according to her testimony Thursday morning.
Though they had a rough relationship over property disputes following their father’s death, the woman told jurors she has believed ever since the incident that her brothers want to kill her.
The woman told jurors Wednesday that Maxwell told her someone who would benefit from her death hired him to kill her.
The community has stepped up to help her since the incident, according to her testimony.
She spent several months living in a local women’s shelter and her church donated a new house, where she now lives, the woman told jurors.
Testimony was expected to continue Friday morning.