Elderly hostage victim testifies in court

‘I got down the ladder into arms of the Lord.’

By ALLEN MINCEY
Posted 12/6/17

The victim of the home invasion and hostage situation last week spoke for the first time publicly about her fear during the incident at her Royal Oaks Subdivision residence.Virginia Evans Chism …

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Elderly hostage victim testifies in court

‘I got down the ladder into arms of the Lord.’

Posted

The victim of the home invasion and hostage situation last week spoke for the first time publicly about her fear during the incident at her Royal Oaks Subdivision residence.

Virginia Evans Chism testified at the preliminary hearing Tuesday for Mark Clayton Cain, who was arrested for breaking into the home and holding the woman against her will. Cain appeared at Bradley County General Sessions Court for the hearing.

Chism said she looked outside her home and noticed a truck parked nearby, then saw it in front of her property. She said she felt the vehicle's appearance looked suspicious. Following her training in the Neighborhood Watch program, she called 911 to report the suspicious vehicle.

During this time, the emergency dispatcher advised her to go to a lockable room and stay there. Chism said she went to a bedroom with a lock,  then into a closet in that room which also could be locked.

She went to the bedroom closet after hearing the glass of a front window of her home being shattered. 

Chism continued to stay on the line with 911, and said even though Cain said he "had a commitment not to hurt old people or handicapped people," she still feared for her life. Chism testified from a wheelchair that she was using in court.

"He said he was a Marine sniper and had three guns," Chism said.

The Public Defender's Office asked Chism if Cain ever attempted to get into the bedroom, by kicking in the door, and she said he did not. She admitted that it would not have taken much effort to break into the bedroom.

Eventually, the Bradley County Sheriff's Office's SWAT team was able to remove Chism through a window in the bedroom, after "what seemed like 2 to 2 1/2 hours," Chism said.

"I got down the ladder into the arms of the Lord," she said, with some in the courtroom quietly saying "Amen."

Chism said she's been "jumpy" since the incident.

Also testifying was Deputy Chris Shope of the BCSO. He said he ran the vehicle identification number on the Mazda pickup truck and found it to be reported stolen.

As Shope returned to the vehicle, Cain reportedly grabbed his passenger, held a gun to her neck and was told to "Step back or I will kill her."

The deputy said Cain used the passenger — identified as Andrea Pridgen — as a shield to get to Chism's house. Neither she or anyone else was injured in the incident.

The Public Defender's Office argued that Cain should not face charges of especially aggravated kidnapping, as it does not fit the criteria. The PD said there was no intent to arm anyone, so it should not be classified as especially aggravated kidnapping.

However, General Sessions Judge Sheridan Randolph allowed the two counts of especially aggravated kidnapping to remain, as well as aggravated burglary. Cain also faces a charge of being a fugitive from justice, which carries with it no bond. Bond on the other charges is set at $500,000.

Cain is to appear in Bradley County Criminal Court on the charges on Feb. 12. Until then, he is expected to remain in custody at the Bradley County Jail.

Pridgen was charged following the incident with possession of stolen property. She was first identified as Cain's wife, then later as his girlfriend. Bond was previously set at $50,000 for Pridgen.

She was not in the courtroom during Chism's or Shope's testimony.


Inset Text:

Chism said she looked outside her home and noticed a truck parked nearby, then saw it in front of her property. She said she felt the vehicle's appearance looked suspicious. Following her training in the Neighborhood Watch program, she called 911 to report the suspicious vehicle.

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