WARREN COUNTY, N.Y. (WTEN) — The now-adult survivor of a kidnapping and sexual assault in 1995 is sharing her story for the first time in an effort to keep the man who attacked her behind bars. Only her first name is used in this story to protect her identity.
The attack happened on Aug. 11, 1995, when Laura was 12 years old. She was vacationing with her family in Brant Lake, located in the Adirondacks in Warren County, New York.
“I went on my bike ride thinking absolutely nothing of it,” she said.
She rode to a corner store and called her mother on the store’s pay phone to let her know she would return in a few minutes. Then she started riding back home.
But moments after leaving, a vehicle pull in front of her on the roadway. “Cut me off and jammed on his brakes. I did not know exactly what to think,” she said. But she did know that something was wrong.
The driver, a man she would soon come to know as Patrick May, was a convicted sex offender.
Laura jumped off her bike screaming. She said she did not hear anyone chasing her.
“The next thing I remember is being on the ground and watching it from above, like just sort of disassociated. Watching myself get raped,” she said. “I remember thinking, ‘I am going to die. My parents will never find my body. They will not know what happened to me.'”
She did her best to fight off her attacker, including biting him.
At just 12 years old, Laura knew she would have to rely on sheer will and her smarts if she was to survive.
After raping her in the woods, May then drove Laura to another wooded location in Hague, 20 miles away, where he assaulted her again.
With her wrists bound with tape, May had Laura clean herself up behind his vehicle. That’s when she noticed his license plate. “I remember just looking at the back of his license plate and repeating it over and over again.”
Even though he had promised not to kill her, May began to strangle Laura in the woods. She tried to outsmart him by playing dead. “And I just dangled there as he strangled me. And he did not stop, and that is the last memory I have of that evening,” she said.
Sixteen hours after being abducted, she woke up in the woods. Naked and badly injured, she was able to make her way to a nearby home for help.
Her anxious parents rushed to the hospital, finding their daughter bruised and beaten. The whites of Laura’s eyes were all red — a condition called petechiae — due to being strangled.
“When the word ‘raped’ came out my mouth associated with a 12-year-old, it was so bizarre. I mean, I believed it, but I couldn’t believe it. In fact, I still don’t believe it,” said her father.
Her parents said they were just grateful that their daughter was alive.
Investigators located May using the license plate number given to them by Laura. Former Warren County Sheriff Bud York worked on the case in 1995, but he already knew Patrick May from the mid-1980s, arresting him for raping a neighbor after he broke into her home. For that crime, May served less than two years in prison.
According to investigators, after May got out, he tried to abduct a woman outside a grocery store in Baldwinsville, New York. York said other previously unidentified victims have since come forward as well.
“He should have never got out,” said York.
Investigators credit Laura’s courage, along with bite marks she left on May and remembering that license plate number for securing a conviction and prison term of 75 to 150 years.
“I was strong before this happened. We always said he picked the wrong girl. And so, I wanted to be able to help others,” says Laura.
Laura’s strength helped her turn her pain into a mission to help other victims. She graduated from law school and is now a prosecuting attorney, going after the Patrick May’s of the world.
“That’s why I wanted to go to trial. It’s led me on the career path I have today,” she said.
But always looming in the background is the fear that her attacker may one day be released. May became eligible for parole two years ago. While that request was denied, he is now up for another parole hearing this June.
“If Patrick gets out of prison, there will be other victims. And they are going to be dead. Because he does not want to be behind bars,” said York.
To ensure May stays behind bars, every two years, Laura’s parents conduct a letter-writing campaign asking everyone they know — and even those they don’t — to write letters to the parole board asking them to keep him in prison.
“Anybody that can get involved because this isn’t just us. This could be your kid. It could be anybody,” said Laura’s mom.
“Thinking that he murdered me and left me for dead in an area where people dump their garbage because that is the regard that he had for my life, he should never, ever, be free,” added Laura.
May, 58, has a conditional release date of Dec. 17, 2028. If he can find appropriate housing and was not disciplined while in prison, he will be released and the parole board has no choice.
But in the meantime, Laura and her parents are reaching out to anyone who will listen, asking them to help. They say they received an incredible response during their last letter-writing campaign, with more than 1,000 letters written to the parole board.
If you wish to send a letter, address envelopes to:
Cayuga Correctional Facility
Attn: SORC (Parole Board)
2202 State Route 38A
P.O. Box 1150
Moravia, NY 13118-1150