GASTONIA, NC (WBTV) - Omar Adams was arrested after officials say he broke into a woman’s home, strangled and sexually assaulted her in Gastonia.
Adams already had a protective order against him from the woman because of prior violence, but he had come back.
Gaston County Sheriff’s Corporal Putnam went by the woman’s house to drop off domestic violence paperwork on Saturday. He said he goes around to drop off subpoenas and paperwork often.
Putnam said when he got to this woman’s home he knocked on the door but she didn’t answer at first. He was about to leave, when she came out and he handed her the paperwork.
What happened next caught him off guard.
She whispered two words: “help me."
Corporal Brandon Putnam has worked with the Gaston County Sheriff’s office for nearly two decades. He said nothing like a victim staring at him and asking for help has ever happened to him over his years of service.
“Like any other day, go to the door, knock on the door. I knocked several times, no answer,” Putnam said.
“Before I left she whispered, ‘help me,’" Putnam said.
Putnam searched her face, then saw marks under her eyes, marks on her neck.
He knew they were signs of strangulation.
“Was this from Adams?” Putnam asked.
The woman nodded her head to indicate that he was inside the home she had just walked out of.
Putnam called for backup and Sargent Mickey Sanford came to help.
“We knew someone was in there and we needed to get him out. There were also three children inside at the time,” Sanford said.
The deputies searched the home and found Adams hiding in a closet.
Adams is now charged for breaking into this woman’s home and sexually assaulting her.
“In my 19 years that’s never happened, when you are in a position where a victim needs help. And luckily she told me that she needed help because anything could have happened,” Putnam said.
Women who are strangled by their partners are seven times more likely to later be killed by them, according to the Emergency Medicine Journal.
“She was brave enough to at least whisper help. So it’s a good feeling to get him away from her. At least her and her children are safe," Putnam said.
Mark Jetton, an attorney in Charlotte who handles domestic violence cases, said that finding the right protections for domestic violence victims with the laws in place can be challenging.
In Adams' case, he has a record of domestic violence against women dating back to 2010, but was able to walk free after his latest assault against a female charge because it was classified as a misdemeanor.
“We can have a restraining order but this is not some wall or some area that is magnetic where they can’t come there it’s just a piece of paper," said Jetton.