On Sept. 4, 2017, University of West Georgia senior Jaila Gladden was kidnapped from a grocery store parking lot and raped by a stranger. She was able to trick her captor into allowing her sporadic cell phone use, which was ultimately responsible for saving her life. BuzzFeed News acquired police reports from the Carrollton and Atlanta police stations as well as screencaps of the short conversation Gladden had with her boyfriend, in which she alerted him to her situation.
Gladden says she is sharing her story to spread awareness and maybe enact change; Her ordeal may have been prevented with better security in the parking lot.
That night, Gladden left her apartment in Carrollton, Georgia (about 50 miles west of Atlanta) at around 11:30 p.m. to buy some medicine and tea from a local grocery store. As she exited the store, a strange man asked her for a lighter. She said she didn’t have one and continued walking.
Once at her vehicle (a green Honda Accord), Gladden felt a knife press against her abdomen as the same man ordered her into her car. She climbed through the driver’s seat and into the passenger’s side.
The man wanted to know how to get to Atlanta. He stopped driving, parked the car behind an abandoned church, and ordered Gladden to undress. He told her there was “no purpose in crying” and proceeded to rape her. Afterwards, they continued driving and the her attacked revealed his plans: He needed money and planned to rob a gas station. Then he would drive to Michigan.
This is where Gladden’s quick-thinking came in: She told him she would need her phone to google the locations of gas stations, since she was unfamiliar with the area.