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Man charged with kidnapping, rape of relative

John Thompson • Dec 28, 2012 at 9:52 PM

ELIZABETHTON — A Carter County man was arrested Thursday afternoon on charges he held a relative against her will and raped her.

The victim reported the crime to Investigator Larry Vaughn of the Carter County Sheriff’s Department on Wednesday. She said that on Dec. 20, Leonard Rosco Winters, 66, 120 Flora Dugger Road, threatened to kill her.

She said she attempted to flee from him, but Winters caught up with her, knocked her down and began striking her in the face with his fists. She said he then began choking her. She said he choked her to the point she thought she was going to die.

She said Winters then pulled her into his residence by her hair. Once he had her inside, he told her to shut up and tell everyone that she fell down if they inquired about the injuries to her face.

The woman told Vaughn that Winters then told her to go into a bedroom and remove her pants and underwear. She said Winters told her he would kill her with a knife if she did not do what he told her.

The relative said Winters then pushed her onto the bed, pulled her to the edge and began to rape her. She said she told Winters to stop numerous times and he continued to rape her.

When he stopped the assault, the victim said he allowed her to get dressed and made her sit on the couch, police said. She said he told her not to leave nor talk on the telephone and not to tell anyone what happened.

Two days later, on Dec. 22, the victim said Winters left his residence. She then called a relative, who came and helped her escape.

While interviewing the woman Wednesday, Vaughn said he observed and photographed bruises on her face and neck that seemed to be consistent with her story about the first assault.

Following the interview, Vaughn and Sheriff Chris Mathes entered Winters’ residence and recovered several items of evidence.

The victim was examined at the Johnson City Medical Center by a registered nurse specializing in sexual assault cases. She photographed bruises on the victim’s chest, back, legs, neck, ears and face. She also reported bruising and tearing on the victim’s genital region, which she said was consistent with forced sexual activity.

Vaughn said he interviewed Winters. He said Winters told him he did remember causing some injury to his relative, but did not remember anything else about that day or the following two days.

This is not the first time Winters has had legal problems. He was convicted on June 29, 1987, of second-degree murder and two counts of aggravated assault in a traffic accident that took the life Pearl Smith.

The accident took place on Aug. 9, 1986, on U.S. Highway 19E at Jim’s Transmission Shop near Biltmore. According to an affidavit by Tennessee Highway Patrol Officer Steve Galyon, Winters entered the highway from a side road at a high rate of speed without stopping. He collided head-on with a vehicle driven by Paul Smith. In addition to the death of Mrs. Smith, Paul Smith and another passenger, Micah Lewis, were injured in the crash.

Galyon said Winters was driving under the influence of alcohol and had two previous convictions for DUI.

Winters was sentenced to 15 years on the second-degree murder charge and four years each on the aggravated assault convictions. According to the Tennessee Department of Corrections, Winters’ sentence was completed on Sept. 8, 2000.

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