TN woman kidnapped, beaten with wooden plunger handle

Charles Cook (Source: WMC Action New 5)
Charles Cook (Source: WMC Action New 5)

HALLS, TN (WMC) - A Tennessee woman was kidnapped by her boyfriend and beaten with a wooden plunger handle, according to the Lauderdale County Sheriff's Office.

The incident happened on East Tigrett Street near the intersection of Marshall Drive in Halls, Tennessee.

Police said Melissa Terrell was held captive by her boyfriend, Charles Cook, for five days before she was able to escape.

Melissa's family said they believe she was held captive for longer. They said she went missing Jan. 15 and was not seen again until she crawled out of Cook's house on Jan. 30.

Once she got away, Melissa ran to a neighbor's house and called for help.

"She ran inside and said she needed help and called 911," Melissa's neighbor Rachel Rannals said.

When Cook noticed she was gone, he took Melissa's 2015 Nissan Altima and her cell phone and drove away.

An investigator met with Melissa at the Lauderdale County Community Hospital where he noticed she had bruises and knots all over her body, and both of her eyes were swollen almost completely shut.

"She's lucky to be alive," Ronnie Terrell, Melissa's father, said. "She's a beautiful girl, but she don't look like herself and I just can't believe it."

Her family said they became suspicious after she missed two weeks of work.

"He had her phone and he was texting everybody like it was Melissa don't come here, I've got the flu, I've got strep throat," Jeannie Vickery, Melissa's aunt, said. "He thinks it's OK to beat a woman I'd love to see somebody beat him."

WMC Action News 5 learned that Cook was out on bond for violation of a restraining order against a different woman in Dyer County.

"Nobody knew this guy. She met him on Dec. 20 online," Ashley Hutcherson, Melissa's cousin, said.

"Don't let looks fool ya. If you ever go online dating, you check them out," Vickery said.

Melissa is currently at Regional Medical Center, and it is unclear at this point on how long she'll have to stay.

Cook, who is currently being held on $350,000 bond, is charged with aggravated domestic assault, especially aggravated kidnapping, theft over $10,000, and theft under $1,000.

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