Manchester, Tenn., abduction, rape case going to grand jury

Manchester, Tenn., abduction, rape case going to grand jury

February 19th, 2013 by Ben Benton in Local Regional News

Billy Joe Nelson

Photo by Contributed Photo/Times Free Press.

Charges against a Tullahoma, Tenn., man accused of abducting a woman on New Year's Day, robbing her, biting her and forcing her to perform sex acts will go to a grand jury in March.

Billy Joe Nelson, 31, of East Lauderdale Street in Tullahoma, was jailed in early January on charges of carjacking, aggravated rape, aggravated kidnapping, robbery and aggravated assault in connection with an attack that began in the parking lot of the 41 South Bar in Manchester, Tenn., authorities say.

Those charges were bound over to the Coffee County grand jury this month after the 38-year-old victim testified during a preliminary hearing before General Sessions Court Judge Jere Ledsinger.

It is Chattanooga Times Free Press policy not to identify victims of sexual assault.

Nelson remains in jail on a $1.25 million bond. Eric Burch, the suspect's attorney, was not available for comment Monday.

Manchester police Investigator Stuart Colwell said Monday that the victim testified during the hearing that she went to sleep in her car while her husband was loading up musical equipment early New Year's Day after he and his band had played at the Hillsboro Boulevard bar.

She testified that she awoke to find a stranger behind the wheel of her car as it was traveling along state Highway 55 toward Tullahoma, Colwell said.

He said the woman testified that the driver, since identified by police as Nelson, threatened her and sexually assaulted her as they rode in the car.

At one point, the victim said, she tried to escape the vehicle, but Nelson pulled her back into the car by the hair and bit her face as they struggled. When he took the woman to Tullahoma's Dossett Apartments, she waited until he went inside a residence, then fled in the vehicle to call authorities.

Authorities said Nelson took jewelry, bank cards and other items from the woman while she was held.

In other preliminary hearing testimony, Manchester police Chief Investigator Billy Butler testified that he and investigators spoke with a woman described as Nelson's girlfriend who told police about dropping Nelson off at the scene of the abduction, according to a report in the Tullahoma News newspaper.

That woman also testified that Nelson called her to pick him up around 3 a.m. near the Dossett Apartments.