Woman Shares Story Of Brutal Sexual Attack On Trail While Walking Dog: 'I Thought This Was The End'
Vanessa Ursini shared the story of her horrific assault on Facebook, warning others to be aware of their surroundings. Johnny Dewayne Harris was arrested on suspicion of the crime.
A convicted sex offender dragged a Colorado woman into the woods with a rope around her neck before she broke free and ran away, nearly naked and screaming for help.
Vanessa Ursini penned a heartfelt Facebook post describing the attack.
"As some of you may have heard I was involved in a horrific incident yesterday morning, so I thought I would take some time to share what happened to me," she wrote.
After the incident, which happened around 7:15 a.m., Denver police arrested Johnny Dewayne Harris Jr., 48, on charges of kidnapping and sexual assault, according to the Denver Post.
Ursini was walking her dog Berreta alone on a loop on the Platte River trail, she said, a short way from her house. She passed a man who gave her a "very strange vibe."
The man must have cut through the woods, she said, because he appeared in front of her again shortly after she walked past him.
"The dog and I passed him and I said excuse me," she wrote. "About 30 seconds later I noticed him very close behind me. I saw he had a rope in his hands and at that point he was too close to try and put any distance between us."
Before she could react, the rope was around her neck and she was dragged "about 15 feet" off the trail, she said.
The attacker started to pull off her clothes while choking her, wrote.
Her dog tried to fight him too, she said — and even though he threatened to kill her, she wouldn't stop screaming. She thought she was going to die, but she wouldn't stop fighting.
"He hog tied me from my neck to my wrists, then to my ankles and told me he was going to let me go but he needed to find his glasses first," she said. "He searched for them multiple times and couldn’t find them, I begged him to let me help but he said he couldn’t trust me. I somehow managed to sit up and was able to reach the knot around my ankles and free myself."
She ran as fast as she could almost completely naked and without her dog until she found some people to help her.
Two men on bikes chased down the suspect and restrained him until police arrived, Commander Trent Cooper of the Littleton Police Department told the Denver Post.
“They did exactly what good Samaritans should do. They got involved, but not so involved that they endangered themselves,” Cooper said. “We’re looking at whether other cases are related to him.”
Ursini said she was able to find her dog, and she's confident that her assailant will be behind bars for a long time.
"This was the worst day of my life but I knew I had to fight, it simply wasn’t my time to die," she said. "I still feel like I got hit by a freight train but I am lucky to be in good hands today with my family and friends."
She said she wanted everyone to remember to be aware of their surroundings at all times, no matter where they were.
"I am lucky to be alive," she said. "So please have a plan in place to protect yourself from whatever may be out there. Be safe out there, lots of love from me!"
Harris registered as a sex offender after a 1999 conviction for assaulting a 15-year-old girl, according to the Post. He was sentenced to 15 years and was released in 2014.
He was also charged with several sex crimes in January 2016, according to court records, but many of those charges were dropped when he pleaded guilty to indecent exposure.
[Photo: Denver Police Department]