GASTON COUNTY, NC (FOX 46) - A home invasion in Gaston County left a woman tied up inside her home but quick thinking and a will to survive allowed her to escape unharmed. The terrifying ordeal started with a knock at the door.
"I just kept begging him not, you know I asked him not to hurt me, take whatever you want just don't hurt me,” Jackie Badger said.
Badger said on Friday, William Ledbetter asked to use her phone because his car broke down. She immediately knew something wasn't right but she handed him the phone. He made a call then asked her to call a tow truck.
"Then after he talked for a few seconds he handed the phone back to me and asked me to do one more favor," Badger recalled. Ledbetter pulled a bottle out of his bag and asked her to fill it with water and she did. While in the kitchen, she heard the door open.
"He had me get on my stomach and put my hands behind my back and he zip-tied my hands behind my back…I thought that the least he would do was beat me up, rape, whatever and worst case scenario was he was gonna shoot me,” Badger said.
Ledbetter grabbed her purse and dumped out the contents. He took her wallet, keys and cell phone, then walked outside and got in her car. She knew her car wouldn't start. Thinking that would anger him, she knew she had to get away.
“The first thing I did was try to get the zip ties off of my wrists, I mean not off of them but around to the front where I could use my hands and then I jetted out the back door," she said.
She pushed items blocking the back door out of the way and ran outside. Badger was going to hide in the cellar but she couldn’t open it with her hands still bound together, so she hid in the bushes. She waited until she thought Ledbetter left then she ran to find help.
She knocked on two separate doors but her neighbors weren't answering, she then ran to a nearby bar,
"They were looking for him already because he went, he ran behind their building and they knew something wasn't right,” Badger said.
Ashley Simmons is a bartender at Happy Days. She said she saw Ledbetter walking toward the bar but he was stopped by police. She was alone in the bar with two elderly customers and decided to lock the door because she thought Ledbetter looked “fishy”.
Ledbetter saw her lock the door and walked to the rear of the building. Minutes passed and Simmons along with a customer with a concealed carry permit walked around the building to see if Ledbetter was gone.
"As I was walking back towards the door, the lady Jackie came running, crying, she had zip ties around her wrists and she was saying 'Help me I've been robbed.' She was crying saying, the guy had a gun and I grabbed her, brought her in the bar, locked the doors and got the zip ties off of her and called 911," Simmons said.
Police along with the K-9 Unit arrived and searched for Ledbetter but couldn't find him. Police began to leave when a man picking up cans from the back of the bar saw Ledbetter’s feet sticking out from the bushes near the air-conditioning unit and told nearby officers still on the scene.
"Police came with their tasers and guns drawn out telling him to get down. They actually ripped down our fence a little bit, but that’s not a big deal and they got him out from over there and they had me come out there and identify him.”
According to the Gaston County Sheriff’s Office, this is the fifth time Ledbetter was arrested in the past two years. He was recently released on May 28, awaiting trial. Ledbetter is currently being held at the Gaston County Jail on a $90,000 secured bond.
He’s facing charges of robbery with a dangerous weapon, first-degree kidnapping and breaking and entering.