Being a newcomer to Conway, LaDonna Archer has been slowly getting used to her new surroundings and meeting new people as she has been settling in over the last two months.
Prior to Monday evening, she had nothing but positive experiences to tell her family back home in Rison, but after being attacked by a man armed with a knife outside her home on Prince Street, her family is thankful she survived to call home.
Archer left her apartment around 8:30 p.m. Monday to get into her car and go pick up her fiance from work, but before she could get inside her vehicle, she was grabbed from behind. Archer feels like the events that occurred in the next several minutes could have meant the difference between whether she lived or died.
"I was walking to my vehicle and about to get inside when I was grabbed from behind," she said. "The man had a knife held against my stomach and told me not to speak, so I kept quiet."
It wasn’t until the suspect made a motion like he was trying to cut her that Archer ever challenged him.
"He started to move his hand and brought the knife up as if to stab me, and I knew I had to do something," she said. "I had done what he wanted, and he was still going to hurt me, and I just decided I wasn’t going down like this.
"I have three kids, and I knew I had to fight. When his arm came up to stab at me, I hit him hard with my elbow in the face and when he let go of me, I ran."
Archer dropped her cell phone and keys and ran to her neighbor’s apartment, banging on the door and screaming until he let her in. She called the police immediately, but the suspect fled the scene and could not be located when the officers arrived.
Due to the parking lot being dark and the suspect grabbing Archer from behind, her description of him is vague. Her hope is that someone who knows the suspect will be able to provide information the police before the suspect has the chance for another attack.
The suspect is described as a black male, average build who was wearing dark pants and white shoes. The left side of his face may also be bruised where Archer struck him. Officials with the Conway Police Department said they know the description of the suspect isn’t much to go on, but they are asking for the public’s help with any detail, big or small, that may help develop leads in this case.
Days after the incident, Archer praised the officers who came to help her and the emergency operator who stayed on the phone with her until they arrived.
"The lady that answered my call at the 9-1-1 center talked with me until the officers arrived and was great," she said. "She helped keep me calm and reassured me that the officers were getting there as fast as they could. When the officers arrived, they were helpful and kind. They came back to check on me and gave me their cell phone numbers if I needed anything or remembered any other details of the attack. Everyone made me feel a lot better despite what happened."
Since the attack, Archer said she has stopped staying at home alone and is reluctant to be anywhere that isn’t well lit at night. She threw out the shirt the suspect cut during the struggle and is trying to move on.
She said she never questioned her reaction to the suspect and credits her decision to fight as something she learned from her brothers.
"I am the baby of the family, and I have two brothers, I’m used to fighting my way out of just about any situation," she joked. "I’ve always been a bit of a tomboy anyway, so my reaction is probably based on that."
Anyone with information about the incident or the suspect is asked to call the Conway Police Department at 450-6120 or text a tip to 274637 (CRIMES) using keyword "Conway".
(Candie Beck is a staff writer and can be reached at 505-1238 or at firstname.lastname@example.org)