A Conway man has come forward in a recent alleged stalking case to say he’s innocent of all he’s been accused of.
Travis Hanson was listed in an incident report with the Conway Police Department regarding a customer at Hobby Lobby stating that he stalked her through the store and out to her vehicle; the victim took photos of the man’s vehicle plates, which came back in Hanson’s name.
After reading a recent Log Cabin Democrat article, Hanson contacted CPD to clear up any misunderstanding.
“Our investigators recently dealt with a case where a woman thought she was being followed around a store,” the CPD wrote in a Facebook post. “The woman filed a police report and we started investigating.”
The CPD wrote that while the woman, “truly thought she was being followed by this man,” they since found out that was not the case.
After contacting the CPD, it was determined that he was simply going about his business shopping, “not even aware that he e[n]countered this woman several times in the store and then leaving the store,” the CPD post stated.
The LCD learned from CPD spokesman LaTresha Woodruff that the victim no longer plans to follow through with charges and according to the post, “expressed great remorse from any harm this may have caused.”
The LCD reached out to the alleged victim for an update.
She said the officer on the case spoke with her and told her Hanson’s story.
“At the end of the day, if this wasn’t what I thought it was — I’m still sticking to my gut — but if this wasn’t what I thought it was, I couldn’t go to sleep at night knowing this man would be charged with something he didn’t mean to do,” she wrote in a Facebook message. “I don’t wish bad on anyone, that’s just not who I am.
“After discussing my feelings towards dropping the charges, the prosecuting attorney chuck had told me that I always need to stick with my gut and even though I want to drop charges with this case, if I were to feel uncomfortable tomorrow in a similar situation, to always call.”
According to the updated incident report, after the officer spoke with the victim, he viewed footage from Hobby Lobby, which showed Hanson entering the store eight minutes before the alleged victim. Nine minutes after she entered, she is seen leaving with an employee and Hanson is seen leaving after them.
From there, CPD was able to put together a photo line-up where the victim was unable to correctly identify Hanson.
“After the lineup, [the victim] admitted she was so concerned during the whole incident that she never looked closely at Hanson’s face and did not think she would ever be able to identify him,” the report reads.
On Monday, an officer spoke with Hanson who said he was made aware of the situation by a coworker. He was concerned about the situation and said he was only there to purchase new items for his office.
Hanson contacted the LCD on Tuesday and said he was also made aware of the situation when his sister notified him that through doing some online research, realized there was a warrant out for him.
Hanson said he recently started a new job and was in the process of organizing his office, cleaning and decorating it to be more of a comfortable place and decided he wanted to go to Hobby Lobby.
Come Monday morning, he was there, starting with the perimeter of the story to figure out its layout.
He said he walked around the entire store first, then focused on the middle aisles where the plaques and inspirational art pieces were.
Hanson said after some time of not finding what he needed, he decided to leave.
As he was leaving, he said, he remembers there being two people walking ahead of him, side-by-side, and with Hobby Lobby’s exit being some narrow, couldn’t speed up and pass them, so he gave them enough space.
Hanson said he started to head to the parking lot in the wrong direction and then remembered where his car was and headed that way.
“And that was that,” he said. “I was done and I didn’t think there was anything else to it.”
Since then, Hanson said, he’s pieced together what happened and evidently the woman walking ahead of him in the exit was the one who felt like he was stalking her.
He said he passed several people in the store and only remembers a few, including an employee and an older woman with a child or two who accidentally stood in front of something he was looking at and another woman pushing a cart that he came across a few times.
“I never said anything to anybody nor did anyone speak to me,” Hanson said, adding there were no conversations, no long eye stares or anything.
He said he supposed the victim had a different perception of the event and felt like he was stalking her.
In regard to the victim saying he followed her down the aisles, “that is a complete lie,” he said.
“It was just my bad luck that I happened to be leaving at the same time as they were leaving,” Hanson said. “I had no idea what was going on.”
During the process of the report being filed, CPD interviews, conversations with the city attorney and more, he said, he was never contacted. No one called him, stopped by his work, despite how he said he’s lived in the same place for 15 years and has had the same phone number for more than a decade.
“If someone was trying to find me, they could have found me,” Hanson said, adding he didn’t feel much effort was made.
Had he actually been stalking someone, he said, he felt like someone should have contacted him.
“And, probably a lot of this could have been averted,” Hanson said.
He said he feels like he’s been convicted of a crime and now his name’s attached to damning information, despite trying to live his life as a good citizen, being kind and trying to make good choices.
For his name to now be attached to something in such a public way has been “very difficult,” for him.
He said his friends and family have reached out and have shared some of the things that were said about him on social media and having a family himself, now has to worry about his safety and theirs.
In the climate we’re in today, Hanson said, he gets it.
“I just really feel like … people are on heightened awareness,” he said. “I do understand how it maybe could have happened but also at the same time, in this particular instance, it was wrong in so many ways.”
He said he gets it … he has two daughters.
“I’m aware that there’s dangerous people out there and I want people to be aware but at the same time, you know, other people are in this world doing the same things that you’re doing, interacting in the same places and it’s not enough to just be in the same area as someone to accuse them of stalking you,” Hanson said.
He said he wants people to be aware and careful of what’s going on around them but also to use common sense.
“You have to be a little more cautious before making wild accusations,” Hanson said. “I didn’t do anything.”
Hanson said now he’s left to pick up the pieces; even though he didn’t do it, his name is still out there in this context.
“Now, all they have to say is, ‘Travis looked at me funny,’” he said.
Hanson said he feels like he’s in a dream-like state.
“You could call it a nightmare,” he said. “It’s completely turned my world upside down, even though it may be temporary.”