LITTLETON, Colo. – A woman who says she was dragged into the woods, choked and sexually assaulted while taking her dog for a walk is using her story to remind people to be vigilant when outdoors.
Littleton, Colorado resident Vanessa Ursini posted photos of the numerous injuries she suffered, allegedly at the hands of a Texas sex offender.
Urinsi said she was walking her dog alone along the Platte River Trail early Wednesday morning when she saw a man she recognized from the previous day of walking.
She said the man, who police identified as 48-year-old Johnny Dewayne Harris, suddenly appeared on the opposite side of the trail, where she was at, carrying a rope.
"At that point he was too close to try and put any distance between us," Urinsi wrote on Facebook. "He strangled me from behind and drug me into the woods about 15 feet off the trail where he removed almost all of my clothes. He continued to choke me using his hands, the rope, and with a bandana of some sort."
Urinsi said she believes Harris knew her routine and cut through a wooded area to carry out his attack.
She said she "fought like hell and screamed (her) brains out" as Harris allegedly threatened to kill her to get her to stop screaming.
Urinsi said Harris, a convicted sex offender who served time in a Texas prison for sexually assaulting a child, hogtied her arms to her neck and bound her ankles and said he'd eventually let her go once he was able to find his glasses.
She said she was able to free the rope around her ankles and run for help as Harris searched for his glasses. A bicyclist was able to chase Harris down and hold him captive until authorities arrived.
"I am putting this post up to remind each and every one of you, please be aware of your surroundings at all times," she wrote. "Even if you have been on your local path, your grocery store parking lot, or anywhere 100 times, danger can exist anywhere. I am lucky to be alive, 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!"
Officials with the Littleton Police Department believe Harris was homeless. He is charged with sexual assault and kidnapping. Harris, police said, was also sought in connection with other sex crimes committed in Denver.