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FIRST-PERSON: Terror & prayer in a car trunk

ALTUS, Okla. (BP)–“I need a hammer, I misplaced mine.”

It seemed like a reasonable request. After all, he was employed as a custodian at First Baptist Church, Altus, Okla., where I have been a member for 32 years, and I had asked him to come repair my fence.

“I’ll meet you at the back door,” I told him, then I locked the front door again and located the hammer. I opened the back door and raised the garage door.

There he stood. I gave him the hammer and he said, “Well, we’re going to need to move your car because I can’t get my Jeep up to the fence.”

Again, his request sounded legitimate, so I went back into the house for my car keys. He took the keys as if to move the car for me. Then he looked into my eyes and said, “I’m going to kill you. I have a gun.”

“Mitch, what on earth are you talking about? What’s all this about?”

He pushed me back through the utility room into the kitchen, demanded money, dumping my purse that was on the table. I gave him all the money I had. It wasn’t much, and obviously not enough to satisfy whatever was fueling his aggression. He demanded the PIN number to my credit card. “I don’t use a PIN number,” I told him as I searched my mind for something that would alter his thinking and calm him down.

“Write me a check for $500,” he demanded.

“Well, it won’t be honored, Mitch,” I said.

“Write it for how much you can, but don’t put my name on it,” he demanded.

Thinking he would go away if I wrote the check, I quickly wrote a check for $125 and handed it to him.

He became incensed, grabbed my arm and started shoving me through the house. He pushed me all the way back through the house to my bedroom. I was very near panic, and I pleaded for the Lord to protect me and take care of me. Mitch pushed me down on the bed and demanded, “Give me your jewelry.”

Again, hoping my honesty would diminish his hostility, I said, “All I wear is costume jewelry. I do have a watch.”

But he was determined to kill me. With a wrench in his hand, and without any warning, he hit me in the head four times very hard.

My head was bleeding profusely. He threw me on the floor, face down. He used the telephone cord to tie my hands behind my back. He then tied my ankles together and dragged me through the house, down the steps in the garage and out to my car. He opened the trunk and dumped me into it, then closed the lid and began to drive.

There is no way for me to know just how long he drove. I continued to pray as I worked my hands free. I prayed, but I also anticipated what he would do next.

“Lord, please don’t allow evil to win this. Lord, if something happens to me, my son, John, might blame you for not protecting me and will be angry or disappointed. Lord, please don’t let that happen,” I prayed.

The car stopped. I stayed very still, eyes closed, and I held my breath as the trunk lid opened. Mitch looked at me and slammed the lid shut. I was left to wonder what would happen next.

I thought about dying and being found dead. I began to pray, “Lord, please allow the truth to be known about what has happened to me.” Again the trunk lid opened. I lay very still, pretending to be unconscious. He slammed the lid shut again.

The third time he opened the trunk lid, I tried to reason with him. I called his name, and before I could say a sentence, he slammed the trunk lid and left.

Again, a fourth time, he opened the trunk. I could see the stars shining beyond him and the accessory light in the trunk revealed he had a knife. I could see he was about to stab me in the chest. I fought for the knife. He must have broken my fingers while he slashed my right arm to the bone. He grabbed my hair and pulled my head to the edge of the trunk. He began to cut my throat with the serrated blade. His knife was dull, and he sawed at my neck until blood began to gush from the wound, pulsating with every heartbeat.

He placed my head between his hands and twisted my neck. I heard my neck crack. I went limp, thinking my neck was broken. I was unable to resist any longer. I thought I was about to die.

He, too, must have thought he had finally delivered the fatal wound, and that my death was imminent, because he shut the trunk and left.

How much time before I would meet the Lord I didn’t know. What I did know was that I didn’t want to meet the Lord with any uncleanness in me, or any resentment, or bitterness. I prayed, “Lord, cleanse me. Purify me. Help me forgive Mitch.”

Again, I asked the Lord, “Bring victory over Satan and evil in this situation. Lord, help my son, John, and my grandchildren through this situation.”

I prayed also for Bob Maxey, our church’s business administrator, who hired this man some weeks before. Mitch seemed like a nice, courteous man who needed a job. Bob helped him, but he had no way of knowing what was within Mitch’s heart.

I prayed for my church. I prayed we would become more mission-minded, not just for southwest Oklahoma, but for the whole world. Hours passed. I prayed for missionaries. I had read about countries where being a Christian means you are targets for oppressive governments. There are so many persecuted Christians who suffer untold persecution; some even witness their families brutalized or martyred for their faith. As I prayed, I sensed my own faith growing; “God, make good come out of all this evil.”

Although I was very cold and alone and understood that no one knew where I was, I was confident I could depend on God to never leave me nor forsake me. I questioned, “God, why have you allowed this to go on so long?”

The second-degree carpet burns on my back began to hurt. No matter how I turned or squirmed, the bolt that holds the spare tire hit me somewhere on my back. I tried to avoid it, but no matter how I moved, the bolt was always there. I thought of how my Savior had borne the brutality of a beating and then was laid on a rough, splintery cross. He must have suffered untold agony.

I didn’t see any blinding light. I didn’t see an angel. I was hurting and I was very, very cold. There was assurance that I was not alone. While there was apprehension I might die, I had the reassurance that whatever came, it was in God’s plan. All was well between me and my Lord. My abductor apparently had planned to hide the car and leave me inside or dump my body, but had driven it into an irrigation ditch. The car didn’t go all the way into the ditch, but when he tried to get it out, a tire came off the rim.

Although blood had been flowing with my every heartbeat, it was sub-freezing weather that night and, consequently, my systems slowed down, causing the blood flow to slow and coagulate. When they found me, they said my body temperature was 93 degrees.

I am also a non-insulin dependent diabetic. I had been without food for almost 24 hours and, normally, my blood sugar would have fallen. I should have gone into a coma, but because of the trauma, my blood sugar rose to 553. Normally, my count should have been 120 or below.

In spite of the potentially fatal blows to my head, the doctors told me there were no fractures and no brain damage. Although it has been seven months, I haven’t even had a headache. I believe my Savior put his hand between my scalp and my skull and took the blows for me. Although I was treated badly and was dumped into the trunk of the car, no major bones were broken. When he cut my right forearm, he missed all the major blood vessels. When he slashed my neck, he slashed it low enough that it doesn’t show if I wear a high collar. Although my neck required 60 stitches, he missed the vocal cords, the esophagus and even the large neck muscle. It could have been a whole lot worse. I believe God intervened even in that.
Alga Hitchcock has been the prayer coordinator for 19 years at her church. After 20 hours of terror in the trunk, Hitchcock was found. She is recovering from her wounds and receives physical therapy for her fingers and hands. One of her first statements to her interim pastor was, “I’m going on that mission trip to Africa this summer.” Five months after the night in the car trunk, Hitchcock was in a room in Malawi surrounded by teenagers who hung on each word as she related her story. “God is faithful. He was with me every step of the way,” Hitchcock said. “I didn’t wait until I was in a desperate situation to call out to God. I have had a close relationship with him for many years. I knew his Word and then when I was in trouble, God was faithful to remind me of what I already knew. Prepare yourself now for the good times and the difficult times to come.” Reprinted from the Oklahoma Baptist Messenger. (BP) photos posted in the BP Photo Library at http://www.bpnews.net. Photo titles: SURVIVOR FOR MISSIONS and LOCKED UP WITH GOD.

    About the Author

  • Alga Hitchcock