A woman who allegedly was raped inside a vehicle on River Road in East Hamblen County early Saturday morning suffered serious injuries during the violent sexual assault and was badly cut after fleeing and running naked and shoeless through the woods and a briar thicket, a Hamblen County Sheriff’s Department detective said this morning.
The 27-year-old woman, who at some point jumped into the Nolichucky River to put distance between herself and the alleged rapist, had severe bruising on her body, as well as lacerations on her face and head that were apparently caused by blunt-force trauma, according to HCSD Detective Sgt. Jim Brooks.
The temperature when the woman went into the water was 33 degrees, according to a National Weather Service meteorologist. Brooks says the suspect did not know the alleged rapist before meeting him in a sports bar in South Hamblen County late Friday night or early Sunday morning.
The suspect, William Madison Swafford, 41, was identified through surveillance video and patrons at the sports bar. He was taken into custody at his residence on Point Pleasant Road in Cocke Count – near the location where the rape allegedly occurred, around 1:30 p.m. Saturday.
“He claimed nothing happened,” Brooks said this morning.
Brooks charged Swafford with aggravated rape and aggravated kidnapping. The defendant allegedly prevented the woman from leaving his vehicle prior to allegedly raping her.
“We have a witness who heard a female hollering for help around 2:10 a.m.,” said Brooks, who reported the concerned resident called 911, but the woman and Swafford were gone by the time deputies arrived to investigate.
The naked woman sought help at residence on Leepers Ferry Road, but not before enduring a horrific ordeal, according to Deputy Donnie Davis.
The unwelcome sexual advances began shortly after the two left the bar. When Swafford realized the woman wasn’t going to comply, the defendant began beating her and ripping off her clothes prior to the alleged rape, according to Davis.
“The victim finally did manage to get away from him and she took off running into the woods,” Davis’ offense report states. “The victim stated that she didn’t know where any of her clothes (were) and that all she wanted to do was get away from him. The victim ran through the woods, then into a large field.
“Then she jumped into the river, which took her downstream to where she crawled out back into another set of woods,” he further wrote. “The victim then had to go through a large field full of briars, at which point she got on her hands and knees and crawled up the railroad tracks.”
The victim’s clothes were recovered on River Road, close to her cellphone. Lt. Steve McBride assisted in the preliminary investigation. The Cocke County Sheriff’s Department played a role in Swafford’s arrest, according to Davis.