Parker County Sheriff's Office officials say the suspect in the kidnapping of a woman held for 13 days may have had his eye on his victim for quite some time.
The 62-year-old woman was reported missing when her home burned to the ground on March 3. She was found alive this weekend after being held captive for over a week, a statement from the sheriff's office said.
Jeffrey Allen Maxwell, 58, was arrested and has been charged with kidnapping, which carries a maximum penalty of life in prison. He also faces two counts of aggravated sexual assault. Authorities said Maxwell had been known to bother the victim when he lived near her in northwestern Parker County before leaving the area in 2007.
Investigators said Maxwell kidnapped the victim at gunpoint from her residence in a rural area near Whitt. They said they believe the kidnapping took place two days before the fire, which they believe Maxwell started.
She was taken 100 miles away and was kept bound, restrained and repeatedly assaulted, the sheriff's office statement said. News 8 has elected not to use the victim's name to protect her privacy.
It was nearly two weeks ago that fire destroyed the woman's home and car, but there was no sign of her in the ashes. Neighbors had described a car with a handicap placard that was in front of the home before the fire. A car fitting that same description was seen outside Maxwell's home. Police had obtained a search warrant for that car.
When law enforcement officials knocked on the door and Maxwell came outside, the victim ran out a short time later, yelling, "I'm here; I'm here."
"I can't believe they found her alive! I'm real happy they did," said Barbara Breeden, a neighbor of the victim. "That's a miracle... that's a miracle in itself."
Investigators said the woman had been restrained and repeatedly assaulted for days. She was hospitalized for treatment of her injuries and is now resting at an undisclosed location in protective custody.
Howard Hungerford has known the victim for more than three decades. "On one half, I feel real good; but then on the other half, she's going to go through some tough times," he said.
Parker County Sheriff's Office deputies believe Maxwell kidnapped the woman at gunpoint on March 1, then returned to her home two days later and set it ablaze.
Maxwell, 58, has been living in Corsicana for more than three years, but in 2007 he was the victim's neighbor. He lived just a couple of blocks away on Old Oran Road.
"She had talked to me on different occasions about... he was always trying to invite her to over his house and whatever, and she would never go for that," Hungerford said.
Parker County Sheriff Larry Fowler told News 8 that the suspect had been just a person of interest in the days before his arrest.
Now, friends of the victim are waiting for her return. "We have got to pull together for her, and I hope that somehow or another come together to help her rebuild," Hungerford said.
The Parker County Sheriff's Office planned to release additional information about the case at a news conference Monday morning.