In January of 1994, in a small Missouri town called Mexico, 19-year-old Denise Williams was shot at and run off the road by her ex-boyfriend, 31-year-old Randall Utterback. They had met at a party a year and a half earlier. According to Denise, Randall seemed just dangerous enough to be exciting:
"I met Randall a week before graduation. I just thought he was the cutest thing. He had been known around town for his motorcycles, and he owned a mountain lion at the time. And everyone had talked real highly of him. He was really outgoing. He would take me out to nice places and concerts. And then after two weeks of Randall and me being together, it all changed. It was gradual. He started out saying, 'Don't wear makeup. Don't wear hair spray. Don't wear perfume.' And then it grew to, 'Don't hang out with this person. You have to choose them or me.' "
When Denise went away to college, she hoped the distance would improve the relationship. She said it didn't:
"Randall was very controlling and manipulative. I'd have to call him if I was going down to the cafeteria, just in case he called and I wasn't there to accept his phone call, he'd think I'd be out with some other people or having friends, doing something that I wasn't supposed to do."
According to Denise, her family was shocked when Utterback talked her into enrolling in a community college closer to him:
"He had me convinced he was the only one there for me because he had gotten me so isolated from my family and my friends. And I got to the point where I started to believe that."
Several months passed. The abusive pattern continued until Denise reached her breaking point:
"I would be called names. I'd be torn down. I wasn't allowed to have an opinion with Randall."
When, during an argument, Utterback became enraged and broke up with Denise, she said it came as a relief:
"I wanted to get away from him. I had just had enough."
But Utterback was stunned when Denise didn't come crawling back. Denise says he began to stalk her, waiting until she was alone and unprotected.
"Randall hit the back of my car and it ran me off the road. And he told me that if I didn't take him back, something bad would happen to someone I love. He wanted me to marry him. I told Randall I wouldn't marry him."
Utterback was arrested for felonious restraint and aggravated stalking. He was in jail for a week before posting bond. A restraining order barred him from seeing or talking to Denise. By Januray 1994, Denise finally began to relax, but she had let down her guard too soon.
"I was driving home from school and I saw this black car behind me. I didn't think it was him. I thought it was just some school kids driving home from school. The next thing I know, that car pulls up beside me and it was Randall. Again, he was motioning me to pull over and I wouldn't. I sped up. And as I sped up, he sped up and went beside me again."
Utterback then fired at Denise and ran her car off the road. As she tried to run away, Utterback came after her. Denise tried to spray him with mace. In the struggle, Utterback bit her hand and dropped his gun. He then managed to drag Denise into her car and he drove off with her. According to Denise, Utterback begged her to take him back:
"He said that if I wouldn't take him back, there was no need for him to live, and then he asked me to kill him. He asked me to stab him through the heart."
Denise pleaded with Utterback to stop the car. He finally pulled over and fled. Denise's father and a sheriff's deputy, along with several other people, gathered around the car. A deputy immediately began to question Denise. He then drove her to the emergency room to have her checked out. On the way, they spotted Utterback in his car. The deputy pulled him over and Utterback was placed under arrest.
Randall Utterback was charged with stalking, felonious restraint, and armed criminal action. He was imprisoned without bond. Several months later, while being transported to the hospital, he managed to escape. He's still on the loose, a fact that keeps Denise awake at night:
"As of today, I'm still living in fear. I don't know when he'll come back, but I have a feeling he will. I don't go anywhere by myself. I'm just scared he's going to come back and I won't be able to convince him a third time to let me go."