published Tuesday, January 8th, 2013

Tullahoma man held on $1.25 million bond in attack on woman

A Tullahoma, Tenn., man first was charged with carjacking, then slapped with charges of rape, robbery, kidnapping and assault last week in connection with a New Year's Day attack that landed him behind bars in Coffee County on bond of more than $1 million.

Billy Joe Nelson, 31, of East Lauderdale Street in Tullahoma, now faces five counts in an attack on a 38-year-old woman, Manchester Police Chief Investigator Billy Butler said Monday.

Nelson is being held on $250,000 bond on each of the charges -- carjacking, aggravated rape, robbery, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault -- totaling $1.25 million.

His lawyer, Eric Burch, wouldn't comment Monday on the charges but noted upcoming court action.

"He has a court date on Thursday, and we will likely be setting a preliminary hearing date," Burch said.

Butler said the victim had never seen Nelson before the attack.

The investigator declined to discuss specifics, but a Manchester police report states the victim had been at the 41 South Bar, a tavern on Hillsboro Boulevard, on New Year's Eve and had fallen asleep in her vehicle in the parking lot about 1:50 a.m. New Year's Day.

The victim "woke up to an unfamiliar voice that wasn't her husband" and found a "very aggressive" man in her car who told her she was going to have sex with him or he "had a gun and would shoot her in the head," the police report states. At one point, the woman tried to escape the car but the assailant, now identified by police as Nelson, grabbed her by the hair, pulled her back inside and bit her on the cheek during the struggle.

The attacker made the victim drive to an ATM and demanded that she withdraw money, then took her to the Dossett Homes apartments, where she was told by the man that he would "be back in 10 minutes and that she had better not leave," the report states.

While the man was gone, the woman fled and was found by police.

Butler said Monday that Nelson has a criminal past but no violent offenses, at least locally. He said Nelson's record includes charges such as burglary, thefts and forgery.

The initial call was made by the woman's husband, who told authorities his wife might have been kidnapped after he heard a "disturbance in her vehicle" when she called him on the phone, police reports state.

The victim apparently called 911 a few moments later when dispatchers heard similar sounds of disturbance over her phone.

about Ben Benton...

Ben Benton is a news reporter at the Chattanooga Times Free Press. He covers Southeast Tennessee and previously covered North Georgia education. Ben has worked at the Times Free Press since November 2005, first covering Bledsoe and Sequatchie counties and later adding Marion, Grundy and other counties in the northern and western edges of the region to his coverage. He was born and raised in Cleveland, Tenn., a graduate of Bradley Central High School. Benton ...

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