Sullivan County investigators are working a disturbing case tonight following the rape and kidnapping of an elderly woman.
The woman, who lives in Sullivan County, woke up to a nightmare late Thursday. "She told officers that she was in bed when she heard a male's voice," said sheriff's office spokeswoman Leslie Earhart.
Earhart tells us the suspect, who had his face covered, then raped the victim. "The suspect had a gun, and he made it clear he would use the gun if necessary," Earhart said.
He then made her bathe. "It was clear by him forcing her to take a shower that he wanted to get rid of any evidence," said Earhart.
Earhart says the woman's ordeal didn't end there -- the suspect took her from her house on Clark place after taking some money and a television. "He forced the victim to get into her vehicle, at which point he got in the driver's seat and eventually dropped her off at a convenience store on Highway 126," Earhart said.
The Val-U Gas store was closed, so the woman went to a nearby house to call for help. Paramedics took her to Bristol Regional Medical Center.
Investigators say the suspect took off in the woman's truck, eventually crashing into a power pole on Vance Street in Bristol, Virginia and running away. City police officers looked for the suspect, but didn't find him.
Earhart says they were still looking for him Friday. "We are following up on a couple of leads right now, but we're also asking anyone with any information whatsoever to give us a call here at the sheriff's office immediately," she said.
Sara Morelock, who has spent her entire life in the victim's neighborhood, says she's worried it could happen again, but she says this part of the county has always been quiet. "It's right at your front door, you know. You never think it would happen around here," she said.
If you have any information about this case, you can phone those tips into the Sullivan County Sheriff's Office at (423) 279-7330.