From Victim to Victory – Excerpt
Early on a Saturday morning, Regina Lane drove to her parking space in downtown Winston-Salem, got out of her car, and crossed the street to go into the Integon Office Building to work.
Before she could step through the door, she was accosted, a gun was shoved into her side, and she was forced back into her car. What happened next was an atrocity that has haunted her, and perplexed investigators and the people of Winston-Salem for over twenty years. She became known as The Integon Victim of Winston-Salem. Now, finally, the public will know the entire story and the intimate details of her kidnapping, rape, assault, stabbing and near death as she fought her attacker, and later, helped bring him to justice. At the same time she provided evidence to exonerate Darryl Hunt for the murder of Deborah Sykes, and finally setting him free from prison and setting herself free from the past.
Psalms 86:1-17 (A Prayer of David)
Hear, O Lord, and answer me, for I am poor and needy. Guard my life, for I am devoted to you. You are my God; save your servant who trusts in you. Have mercy on me, O Lord, abounding in love to all who call to you. Hear my prayer, O Lord; listen to my cry for mercy. In the day of my trouble, I will call to you, for you will answer me. The arrogant are attacking me, O God; a ruthless man seeks my life – men without regard for you. But you, O Lord, are a compassionate and gracious God, slow to anger, abounding in love and faithfulness. Turn to me, and have mercy on me; Grant me your strength, and save me. Give me a sign of your goodness, that my enemy may see it and be put to shame, for you, O Lord, have helped me and comforted me.
And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.
I was a very happy 19-year-old young woman, excited about my life. After graduating from high school in the spring of 1982, I moved into a one-bedroom apartment with a girlfriend. I was thrilled with my newfound independent lifestyle, and dreamed of one day having a husband, home, family, and a full rewarding life.
Life was good. I had a wonderful family, and a fantastic fiancé, who made me laugh a lot and with whom I felt connected. I was also a Christian, with a tremendous faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ. I looked forward to an exciting future with the man I loved, and had every expectation of a calm and peaceful life.
I landed a job with a large insurance company in downtown Winston-Salem, NC, and worked hard to establish myself in this position. Very soon, my hard work paid off and I received my first, second, and then my third promotion.
Along with the third promotion came additional responsibility and I was required to work overtime one weekend because the work had fallen behind. I eagerly accepted this, as I could certainly use the extra money for the four hours of work on Saturday. Finances were tight, but I had become quite proficient at maintaining a budget.
It was a gloomy, drizzly day on Saturday morning, February 2, 1985. Most people would have considered staying at home or even sleeping late. I needed four good productive hours at work to catch-up. Therefore off to work I went, arriving between 7:45 and 8 a.m. I parked my yellow Volkswagen in the Integon Insurance Company parking lot on Poplar Street in downtown Winston-Salem, and walked directly across the street to the bottom of the steps leading to the Poplar Street entrance of the building.
As I approached the door, a black male walked up beside me, and I expected him to ask me the time. Instead, he came up and pressed a gun in my side. “Don’t scream. Don’t make a move. Let’s go back to your car,” he said, as he grabbed me around the neck and held me tight against his side.
He leaned my head next to his head, and I was leaning into his right side. To any onlookers, it would have appeared that we were a couple. It gave me an eerie feeling.
The man was wearing a grey hooded sweatshirt, with the hood pulled over his head, and a burgundy jacket over the sweatshirt. He repeatedly warned me not to look at him, and it was clear that he did not want me to see his face.
When we reached the car, he opened the passenger door of my yellow Volkswagen, and told me to get in. Once inside, he instructed me to move over to the driver side of the car, and he sat down in the front passenger seat.
The abductor told me to start the car and drive according to his instructions. He warned me not to do anything that would bring attention to us, and he continued to hold the handgun pressed into my side. I did not want to do anything to accelerate his adrenaline.
Following his instructions, I drove to the intersection of Poplar Street and Fifth Street, and he told me make a right turn. I told him that Fifth Street was a one-way street, so we turned left. I drove left on Broad Street to Spruce Street, and then back again onto Fourth Street. It was like driving through a maze.
As we drove through the middle of downtown Winston-Salem, I noticed that there was a brick wall directly across from the Towne Jewelers building. Briefly, I considered crashing the car into the wall on the other side of the street, but was afraid that someone inside the building might be injured. I was also afraid I would be shot.
The man asked me if I had any kids, and I answered no, but that I hoped to have children one day.
As I drove, I prayed and silently cried out to God. I said, “Lord, I may not always have lived the way you wanted me to, and I have made many mistakes. However, I ask you right now to help me escape from this attack. I trust you and love you. Give me the strength I need to escape.”
Philippians 4:13 – I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.
I continued to try to look at my abductor, even though he warned me not to. Using much profanity, he repeatedly jabbed the gun at me, telling me not to look at him or he would shoot me. Then, he asked me, “Do you have any kids?” It was a chilling question. Why would he ask me about children? I was truly terrified.
I continued driving on Fourth Street, then making turns as instructed, still with the gun pressed into my side. I knew that, at any moment, he could shoot and kill me. I became confused because I was not familiar with the area of town.
I tried valiantly to remain as rational as possible, and knew that in situations like this, it was imperative to stay clear-minded and positive. I took in the surroundings, and was familiar with some of the downtown streets, but only on the far end of downtown where the Integon building was located. I felt like I was in a maze, but wanted to memorize the route we were taking, across railroad tracks, the street signs, Highland Avenue, and other landmarks.
Although it had only been a few minutes since I was kidnapped, it seemed like much longer. I fought the terror that gripped my heart. I cried and pleaded over and over again with the man, hoping to find some spark of compassion and understanding in him. I kept asking him, “Why are you doing this to me? I haven’t done anything to you.”
With each statement, I cautiously glanced over at the man beside me, and he would push the gun deeper into my side and say, “Don’t look at me B–ch. I told you to stop looking at me.”
Pleading and crying, I begged him to release me, but he refused. Finally, he instructed me to stop the car on Old Greensboro Road near the Flamingo Drive-In Theater. It was a wooded, secluded area, and I frantically looked around, searching for some sign of other people that I could signal to help me. There was no one there.
I was terrified, crying, and confused. Who was this black man that abducted me, and was he going to kill me? I cried out of fear and tried to plead with him, begging for my life. “Why are you doing this to me? I haven’t done anything to you, why are you hurting me this way?”
As he instructed, I pulled the car over in the woods, down a muddy pathway and over a big mound of mud and trash. I told him it was very wet down in the woods, and the car might become stuck in the mud. He told me to drive down there anyway.
When I turned off the ignition, he reached over, grabbed the keys, and threw them onto the floorboard on the passenger’s side of the car.
As my abductor began to rob me, flashes of my family, especially my baby sister, moved through my mind, like a movie depicting my life. I had heard that this happened just before a person dies. Rebecca, my blond-headed baby sister, was so young and innocent. Thoughts of leaving my Mom, Dad, Fred, Tom, and Patricia, never being able to marry Scott, the man I loved, and dying at 19 years old, were excruciatingly real. I knew I had to survive, for me and for the people I loved. I also knew I was facing a tremendous fight, and I prayed to God for deliverance and protection.
He forced me to hand over my purse, and began ransacking it, dumping everything out. He robbed me of $300, all the cash I had, and threw the change on the floor.
I began to pray in earnest, and approached the Throne of Grace boldly, expecting God to answer me. Psalms 34:4- I sought the Lord, and he heard me, and delivered me from all my fears.
It felt like my prayer was transported from the edge of the seashore through space directly into the heavens, and that my mind connected with God’s mind, and we were one in prayer.
This was so comforting, and I knew that if it was God’s plan for me to leave the world this day, that it was okay. I knew I was in God’s hands, and trusted Him to direct the events that were about to happen. Such warmth and peace filled my soul, as God assured me of His presence, and prepared me to fight for my life.
I wanted to be in the center of His will, whatever that might be. Whether I lived or died, I was prepared to accept God’s plan. The connection between God’s mind and my heart was so strong, that in the midst of this vicious and evil attack, I knew I was His child and that He would be with me until the end.
Meanwhile, there was no reasoning with my attacker. He stated, “You know what I want B—ch,” and made me get out of the car, and climb into the back seat.
He saw my watch, and demanded that I give it to him, and I did; however, it hurt my heart to give this watch to him because my Grandmother had bought it for me in Hawaii. However, I took off the watch and handed it to him.
With his gun pointed in my face, he told me to take off my clothes, starting with my blouse, the jeans, and finally my undergarments. I did as he instructed, all the while praying to God to deliver me from this situation.
The black man told me to loosen his belt, which appeared to have a slide clasp similar to a military belt. I refused, and told him I did not know how to unhook that type of belt. He also told me to unzip his pants and he put the gun to my forehead. I was determined not to fully cooperate and calmly submit to the atrocities that were surely about to happen.
My mind raced, trying to think of a way to escape. I thought about using both feet to kick him backwards, but I knew that I would not be able to close the door, grab the keys from the right floorboard, get back in the front seat, and start the car before he broke the window. He would have grabbed me again.
Angrily, he called me a “stupid B–ch”, and proceeded to take his pants partially down, exposing himself to me.
He instructed me to turn over, and get on my hands and knees, which I did. He pushed the front passenger seat forward until it touched the front windshield. Then, he told me to lie down on the upturned seat, with my head near the windshield and my legs in the back seat of the car. This was an impossible position to assume, and I was unable to comply.
He flipped the seat up, and tried to rape me by kneeling at the side door of the car; however, his knees would not balance. Then, he climbed into the back seat with me. I braced myself for his attack, all the while praying to God for help.
He forced me to lie on my back on the backseat, and he got into the backseat with me. It was there that he raped me. I prayed for strength and deliverance.
I NEVER EXPECTED NOR DID I WANT TO BE RAPED! Something I said to him made him stop his attack, and he told me to get out of the car. As I stepped out, he demanded that I turn around, bend over, and place both my hands on the roof of the car. With his gun still in his hand, he kicked my legs apart, like an officer making an arrest.
He tried to rape me from behind, but I would not hold still. He was furious that I would not willingly submit to him, and told me if I did not cooperate with his demands, he would “put this somewhere that you don’t want it to go.” I knew there were only two other openings to my body. I was prodded in the left buttocks, but I refused to submit, moving three more times to stay away from him.
Faced with the evilness of his attack, and believed that the Lord was there with me. I never stopped saying positive, encouraging words to myself, and believed that when I could make my break, I was going to escape and get through this alive or die trying!
Bolstered by these thoughts, my strength was renewed. I knew I would not give up, and would continue to struggle and fight against this vile and horrific assault.
He was unable to rape me outside the car. At that moment, I grabbed his gun from the roof of the car. In anger, I told him that I was going to “blow his black ass off the face of this earth!”
I fired the pistol twice, but it did not discharge. He stopped, and began to pull up his pants, bouncing like a pogo stick. The attacker laughed at me and said, “Stupid B–ch, it’s not loaded, but I have a knife that is going to kill you dead.”
He then pulled out a long butcher knife, and snatched the pistol away from me. As he did, he forcefully struck me with the butt of the pistol on the crown of my head. Another blow to my face, near my left eye, and I thought I would lose consciousness. Feeling my knees wanting to buckle, I knew I could not pass out. I could not go down or he would surely kill me. I knew I had to fight until the end.
I prayed for strength and power, and as I prayed, I remembered that God was with me.
Psalms 22:19 – O my Strength, come quickly to help me.
I had to stay alert now and fight for my life. A tremendous inner strength sprang up within my soul, and I knew it was the presence of God. I fought fiercely to get away, but he grabbed me and came from behind, over my head with a slicing motion with the knife. I caught a glimpse of the blade, and reacted instinctively. Tilting my chin down as he tried to cut my throat, he sliced open my chin instead of my throat.
I wanted to scream but grunted instead, feeling the pain that was inflicted on me. My hand reached up to feel the cut on my face.
He stabbed and slashed me, and I continued to pray to God for miraculous strength to defend myself.
Then, he placed the knife to my throat. I fought hard to keep the knife from cutting me, and grabbed the blade and the handle of the knife with my bare hands. I knew that my fingers could be sewn back on to my hand, but that I would be dead if I released my hold on the knife.
He continued beating my hands and arms with the pistol butt; yet, I never let go of the knife. I remember being slung in a circle, still gripping the knife. My attacker had me pinned down with my bare back on the hood of the car. He was leaning over me, both of us vertically gripping the butcher knife. He was able to once again, slash my face in the chin area. I was holding on for dear life.
We struggled and fought for control of the butcher knife, and fell down a small embankment together. We landed with me laying face down on the ground, and my attacker lying on top of my naked back.
Both of us were still holding the knife, and he was desperately raking his gloved hand through a trash pile looking for anything sharp. With his right hand, he picked up several pieces of broken glass, and slashed away at my face and neck. He raked the shards of glass up across my neck with his grey-gloved hand, but I still would not let go of the knife.
I continued to talk positively to myself, and tell myself that, with God, all things are possible. He was my defender and my strength. I reached into the depths of my being, and found the resolve to continue the struggle.
Isaiah 49:29 – He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Using my elbows, and sheer force and strength, I pushed both of us up off the ground and stood face-to-face with my attacker. He was wearing a burgundy jacket, and a sweatshirt underneath it with the hood pulled up over his head. I could only see his face. I observed every detail of his face, his eyes, his nose, and mouth, and I tried to capture his image into my mind.
The fight continued, and I was able to keep the knife away from my throat by extreme determination and force.
With both of us still clinging to the knife, he ordered me to let go. I told him, “No, you’re going to kill me”, and refused to release my grip on the knife blade or the handle.
Realizing I could now identify him, he increased his demands that I relinquish the knife. “Let go of the knife; let go of the knife”, he said.
I told him he was crazy, that I would not let go of the knife so that he could use it to kill me.
I gripped the wooden handle with one hand, and the tip of the blade with the other hand. His hand, with the grey glove, was holding onto the middle of the knife.
My hands, arms, and body were beaten and bleeding. He had repeatedly hit me with the butt of the pistol trying to hurt my hands and fingers enough that I would let go of the knife. Nevertheless, I held on.
Confident that he could coerce me into releasing the knife, he told me that, on the count of three, we would together throw the knife away. He did not believe that I could possibly continue to fight him, and that he would regain his hold over me.
He made a swinging motion with his arms as he proposed throwing away the knife, trying to wrestle it away from me. However, with every swing of his arm, I countered with a swinging motion of my own.
He began to count to three, and suddenly, with my every being, I jerked the knife with my left hand, and he lost his balance. His eyes were wide and startled in disbelief as he realized that I had wrestled the knife away from him.
He bowed his back, like a cat on two legs, instinct telling him that I would try to slash him as he had cut me. I had the knife!
I turned and started running for my life, and he followed me. I did not look back, but knew he was there, chasing me. With every ounce of remaining energy and strength, I fled out of the woods, naked and barefooted.
He intended to kill me; I had seen his face and could possibly identify him.
As I ran out of the wooded area, I saw a nearby apartment complex. I ran crying toward the nearest house and beat on the door. I did not know if anyone was home.
I saw a curtain move at the window, and a man’s face appeared. Just as quickly, the curtain dropped and the man was gone. My heart sank, not knowing if the man inside the house would have the courage to open his door to a naked, bleeding woman holding a large butcher knife!
In a desperate voice, I cried, “Please help me! Someone is trying to kill me!”
Then, I heard a sound, and the doorknob jiggled. Then, the door opened slightly. A black man stood there, and he quickly looked to the left and right. Then, he opened the door fully, and pulled me inside to safety.
Once inside, he took a bedspread and wrapped it around my exposed and bleeding body. Leading me to the first bedroom, he left me there long enough to call the police.
I sank to the floor and sat there immobile. I had fought my attacker like a man would fight, and escaped. I was totally drained, my strength was gone, and I was unable to move. I knew I could not fight again.
I had been kidnapped and savagely beaten. I had been robbed of all my money, and even my jewelry. I had been raped and pistol-whipped. I had been stabbed 12 times in the face and neck, with my attacker literally trying to cut my head off with a butcher knife. My body was slashed and bleeding from other injuries and multiple cuts to my upper body.
Yet, PRAISE GOD, I was alive. I quietly praised God and thanked Him for delivering me from a certain death. He was my salvation and my strength.
Psalms 46:1 – God is my refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble.
As I sat bleeding on the floor, wrapped in a bedspread, I thanked God for protecting my life, and for providing this kind and gentle stranger to take me into his home.
My attacker had stopped at the edge of the woods when he saw me beating on the door of the house. He waited to see if anyone would have the courage to help me. When he saw the man pull me inside to safety, he turned and fled. I would most surely have died that day if no one had been home or if this stranger had refused to give me shelter.
There was also a fear that swept through my body wondering whether the man opening the door would hurt me, just as he may have feared the same about me.
God miraculously intervened that day to save my life. His power became my power, and His strength, my strength. God’s word is true. “I will never leave you nor forsake you.” God was faithful, Thank God, I lived.
Exodus 15:2 – The Lord is my strength and salvation. I will praise Him…I will exalt Him.
Regina Lane lives life close to her family, where she and her husband Scott have raised their sons. Regina still works in the PMI insurance industry with many of her friends from 26 years ago. She considers this a testimony of God’s work in her life as she prayed and believed that God would do something awesome.
Dr. Linda F. Felker is the owner and president of Felker Consulting, Inc. She provides professional development analysis, leadership training, authoring, career guidance, and counseling. She holds a charter certification to administer the Myers Briggs Type Indicator and conducts couples, individual, and group sessions on psychological and personality type in relationships
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