Woman Writes About Almost Fatal Ax Attack

ByABC News
May 3, 2006, 10:42 AM

May 3, 2006 — -- Terri Jentz was a young woman on a quest for adventure. In the summer of 1977, Jentz and a female companion started on a cross-country bike trip from the Willamette Valley in Oregon .

At the time, both women were undergraduates at Yale University, and they'd planned to follow America's bicentennial bike trail, discovering the country and themselves along the way.

"I really had no clue what America was about," Jentz said. "But what I do remember is what you hear from the rock songs of those times, you know, like the Eagles or Fleetwood Mac -- go your own way. It was a sense that anything was possible and you just go out and make it happen."

On June 22, 1977, after a long day biking into the high desert, the two women rolled into Cline Falls State Park, near Redmond, Ore.

They pitched their tent near a stream. But Jentz said something unnerved them -- she called it a premonition. The women felt as if they were being watched.

"It was an animal instinct of danger, and we both had it, we both had it separately and we shared it with one another," Jentz said.

But the women stayed anyway, thinking they were just being paranoid.

The women bedded down but Jentz said she woke up suddenly about a half hour later.

She said she realized there was a truck above her body.

"I first thought it was an accident, because it's preposterous to wake up under a truck, and I know there were kids cruising the park road, and I would assume they had been drinking, so what if somebody accidentally went off the curve and over our tent," Jentz said.

She expected to hear a lot of noise, maybe a group of drunken teenagers. But instead she heard what sounded like a single person get out of the truck.

"And at that moment I hear my friend scream sharply, 'Leave us alone,' and then I hear a blow. Then I hear six more, just like that," Jentz said, clapping her hands.

Then, Jentz said, she heard nothing. "And then at that point I knew we're being murdered by a single psycho."

After his attack on Jentz's companion, the stranger turned back to her.

"He's above me, I'm thrashing from side to side. ... I catch a glimpse of a piece of wood, I feel a hunk of cold metal, and I then start losing consciousness," Jentz said.

At that point, Jentz said, she knew she was dying, but then a voice inside her said, "I'm too young to die."

She opened her eyes and she said standing over her was a "meticulously dressed cowboy ... straddling me on each side I could see the boots, the pant legs, the shirt meticulously tucked in his pants, but his head disappeared in darkness."

But most horrifying, Jentz said, "I could see poised above me was an ax or a hatchet."

"I looked up at him and opened my eyes and I said, 'Take anything but leave us alone, please leave us alone,'" she said. "He brought the ax down slowly, and I caught it in my hands right above my heart, grabbed the blade in my hands ... and then he withdrew it."