• Relatives describe '4 days of terror' after woman jumps from truck on I-40

    By: Ken Lemon

    Updated:

    MCDOWELL COUNTY, N.C. - Investigators said a Lincoln County woman was so desperate to get away from a kidnapping suspect that she risked her life and jumped from a truck on Interstate 40 in McDowell County to escape.

    In February, Lori Hull took out a restraining order against Brian Leatherman, who she said kidnapped her before and threatened to kill her.

    Brian Leatherman

    Hull is alive but her wounds from jumping from the truck are so severe that doctors told her family members to be prepared because she may not be recognizable.

    "He was determined to get with her no matter what," Hull’s sister-in-law Tanja Peeler said.

    Tuesday, Bret Hull came to court to look into the eyes of the man accused of kidnapping his sister, beating her with a tire iron, and attempting to rape her.

    "I wanted him to have to look at me after what's happened," he explained.

    Relatives said Hull befriended Leatherman and the two lived in the same neighborhood in Vale. Hull's family said Leatherman became obsessed and threatening when Hull pulled away.

    "Hurt my child, hurt her, her mother and tell lies (to) us,” Peeler said. “He will make sure she pays if she (didn’t) come see him.”

    Hull said Leatherman held her captive at his home for 17 hours. She wrote in the protective order that he forced her to do things against her will. Her family members said Leatherman would even crawl under her home and listen to her phone conversations.

    Hull lived in constant fear.

    "He is in a different world and he is dangerous," Peeler said.

    Hull ran to a home in Catawba County pleading for the strangers inside to help her. Investigators said Leatherman knew the people there. He grabbed Hull, dragged her away and threatened to kill her, and then threatened the people at the home.

    Bret Hull said she told him at times she feels sorry for Leatherman before she remembers what relatives call the four days of terror.

    Last Sunday, Leatherman reportedly shot Hull in the leg with a homemade arrow, which remained lodged in her leg for the next three days.

    He reportedly beat Hull with a tire iron and kept her tied up at times as well.

    Bret Hull said his sister was in the backseat of Leatherman's truck, beaten and worn down, riding on I-40 when Leatherman said one phrase that gave her the strength to jump out into traffic.

    "He told her, 'See the top of the mountain? This is where you are going to die.' And she said to herself, 'I'm going to live.' And she fought to get out of the backseat," Bret Hull told Channel 9.

    She tumbled into the road with traffic moving at 70 mph, the arrow still in her leg.

    Several drivers saw it happen and called 911, while the vehicle kept going. Investigators then went to Leatherman's home and found blood outside the door.

    They suspect Hull was held at the house and assaulted before she jumped from the truck.

    Leatherman was found sleeping in the basement of his parent’s home and arrested without incident.

    Leatherman is charged with one felony count each of attempt first-degree forcible rape, assault with a deadly weapon with the intent to kill and inflicting serious injury, first-degree kidnapping, restraint of an adult without that person’s consent, possession of stolen goods, larceny of a motor vehicle, felony probation violation, and obtaining property by false pretenses. 

    He is also charged with two counts of misdemeanor domestic violence protective order violation.

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