Human beings, upon finding themselves in life-threatening situations, are capable of astounding, often unbelievable feats. We can move cars with previously unknown depths of strength, and come up with brilliant ideas in the span of a second if it means the difference between death and survival.
This is a story about a terrible man doing a terrible thing and one woman’s desperate desire to live even when all the odds were stacked against her…
It was a bleak November evening in Birmingham, Alabama. Police had been summoned to investigate shots fired at the Pebble Creek Apartments in Forestdale. As they drove up to the parking lot, they saw a figure crouching in the parking lot. It appeared to be that of a half-naked woman.
Dead on Arrival
The 26-year-old woman was half naked and sitting in the parking lot. Though she had barely any clothes on, she had more than enough blood upon her to make up for it. When they asked what happened, the girl pointed to the apartment and told them that a man was dead inside and that she had done it…
The woman identified the dead man, one Jeremy Arnold Ford, as her abductor. She told the officers that he had kidnapped her, driven her around and forced her to perform tasks for him, and ultimately, sexually assaulted her in the apartment where they’d found him. An apartment incidentally, which belonged to her boyfriend.
The two of them, the girl and her kidnapper, hadn’t known each other before that night. In fact, he hadn’t even set eyes on her until that night. She was the type of girl who trusted everyone, who took photos of sunrises and sunsets as a hobby. She had no idea that her night was about to turn into the fight of her life…
He had been visiting a friend when he spotted her around 4 pm. Ford was the type of man who lived his life through his impulses. As soon as he clapped eyes on his would-be victim, waiting for the sun to set, he knew he’d do anything, anything at all to make her his. He approached her and pulled a gun on her.
Ford sexually assaulted the girl and then forced her into his car. Ford didn’t seem worried at all though and he left her cell phone in her pocket as he began carting her around the neighborhood. She tried calling 911 once, but had to hang up before she could explain the danger she was in…
No One Helped
The kidnapper didn’t just want to torment and assault her, he wanted to parade her around to the world as they made their way through the night. They would go from place to place and at each stop, the girl mouthed that she needed help to anyone they saw. Sadly, no one seemed to notice, and those that did seemed not to want to get involved.
They went to convenience stores, gas stations, anywhere he needed. Finally, when he sent her to buy beer for him, she mouthed into the video surveillance cameras and said, “I need help.” That help never came in the guise of good samaritans, but luckily for the girl, she had a backup plan and she was currently working on it…
She surreptitiously texted her boyfriend as they went along, sending him screenshots of pin maps of their progress in the hope that someone might come and intervene. The boyfriend called the police right away, but it seemed that Ford was always just a few minutes ahead of them, and moving as if by the whims of the wind.
Eventually, the victim managed to convince Ford to take them to an apartment she knew of nearby so they could lay low a while. Ford was unwittingly taking his prey exactly where she wanted him to: her boyfriend’s place. Unfortunately for her, there was no one home at the apartment when they arrived….
Once Ford was sure they were safe inside, he proceeded to strip the victim down and sexually assaulted her again. As some point, the 270-pound Ford became so lost in his supposed triumph, that he let his guard down. The girl decided she only had one chance left. She grabbed his gun and fired with him still on top of her: emptying the chamber.
Emptied the Chamber
The gunshots rang out in the empty apartment, a clear indication to any of the building’s other tenants that they ought to maybe call the police. He fell on her and she used her sudden rush of adrenaline to push him off. Then she left Ford where he lay, his pants still around his ankles, and went outside to wait for police…
Day in Court
There also remains a bit of irony in all this. You see, Jeremy Ford was due to be in court the next day to answer charges of public intoxication and disorderly conduct. Were it not for his untimely death, he may have found himself being jailed for that and some other such assemblage of charges against him.
Stole My Gun
The incident happened when police arrived to find Ford, having recently consumed a “six-pack of tall boys”, waiting to confront someone who stole his gun. Drunk, surly, and clearly unconcerned with the fact that the police were there, Ford began to yell at a nearby woman, his girlfriend. It wasn’t until later he’d take his anger out on someone else…
The deputies dragged the belligerent drunk into custody on the charges, but before he left, he decided to have a few last words with one of his nearby relatives. “(Expletive) this (expletive) Grandma. When I get out, I’m a shoot this place up.” he shouted as they pulled him away.
Not a Nice Guy
As if all that wasn’t enough, Ford had also been arrested for making a terrorist threat last year. He ended up pleading guilty to a misdemeanor harassment charge and received a suspended sentence. The long and short of it all is that Jeremy Ford was not a nice guy at all. But did he deserve to die for what he’d done?
On One Hand
Stories like this one always represent a moral conundrum. On the one hand, it’s clear from all accounts that the girl had very little chance of escaping unscathed unless she too resorted to violent, in this case deadly, means of escape. Killing in self defense has long been held as a justifiable piece of homicide.
The Other Hand
On the other hand, some people, myself included, believe that killing in self defense is never wrong. Now, I’m not a woman in the midst of a kidnap and sexual assault, so It’s impossible for me to put myself in her mindset at the time. That being said, I know that I personally always try and seek out the nonviolent solutions first…
We must also consider the fact that one remarkable woman used all her cunning to try and escape before resorting to the weapon she herself had been threatened with. It was only in her most desperate moment that she chose to do what needed to be done to survive.
Jefferson County sheriff’s Chief Deputy Randy Christian weighed in afterwards, applauding the girl as a hero. “I’ve been in this a long time. I don’t know that I’ve ever seen someone go through a more frightening, brutal situation and keep their wits about them the way this young woman did…That resilience no doubt saved her life.”