Local News

Victim of Escaped Inmate Recounts 7 Hours of Terror

Posted June 28, 1999

— Three inmates of the Odom Correctional Institution in Northampton County wereworking on the prison farmwhen theyattempted to escapeMonday. Officers shot all three inmates killing Bem Holloway, and wounding the other two. One of Holloway's victims hopes her story will inspire prison officials and lawmakers to change their policies.

Last year, Holloway held a young woman captive for nearly seven hours. He stabbed her, sexually assaulted her and left her to die. Holloway called himself the devil.

"He went home yesterday," his victim said, the day after Holloway was killed.

"My first thought was I'll be sleeping easier now," said the 23-year-old woman, who asked that her identity be protected. She went through her own hell on May 20, 1998, the day Holloway broke into her North Raleigh home.

He waited for her mother to leave, shortly after 8 a.m. Police believe he cased the house and waited for the younger woman to get home. At about 2 p.m., he surprised her when she returned from her college class.

Holloway carried a gun and had two knives hanging from the sides of the ball cap on his head.

For the next seven hours he would tie her up, sexually assault her, describe to her how he killed another woman and five other people, stab her, choke her and leave her to die.

"You know how you hear your life flashes before you? That happens," she said. "I kept thinking about childhood ski trips, not getting married, not having babies."

Her love of her family might have been what saved her. Her mom says she saved three lives that night: her own, her mother's and her sister's.

Her mother came home at about 7:30 p.m., and they talked him into letting them go to the bank to get him some money.

Holloway's picture was caught on the ATM camera. When they returned back to the house at about 8:15 p.m., Holloway tied up the mother in one room and the daughter in another.

It was dark in the house; Holloway had cut all the cords to the lamps. The younger woman felt the blade of the knife stabbing her in the stomach.

"I started screaming 'I love you, mom.' That's when I knew it was over." But somehow in her struggles, her legs, which were taped to the chair, became free and she got up.

He forced her back on the ground and she pretended to be dead, although she knew she could not stay down for long because her sister was expected to come home around 9 p.m.

"I felt I wasn't going to be any help to my mother or my sister if I gave up," she said.

So when she heard Holloway go down into the basement, she ran out the door to her neighbors, who called police.

"Granted, I've got scars, but I'm alive," she said.

Now more than a year later, she's strong. In May, she graduated from Wake Tech and was recently accepted toN.C. Statewhere she wants to study communications. She is also engaged to be married.

But she says her recovery would not be going so well had she known there was even a chance that Holloway could escape.

"Criminals with this kind of past, violent offenders, need to be working, but it should be within prison walls."

She hopes prison leaders and lawmakers will look at changing the policy of allowing inmates to work outside the barbed wire.

"I wish they would put themselves in our shoes; what if it was your wife, your daughter, your sister -- how would you feel?" she asks.


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