Shortly before 6:30PM on Friday evening, June 16th, a woman was assaulted while walking along the Central Tennessee Heritage Rail Trail bicycle/walking trail in Cookeville. The woman explained she encountered the suspect as they walked in opposite directions. After they passed, the suspect grabbed the victim from behind and began touching her inappropriately while threatening her. He was armed with a knife. The victim realized she needed to resist. A struggle ensued and the victim was able to free herself from the suspect’s hold on her. The victim then ran from the scene and quickly encountered another walker. The walker was off-duty THP Trooper Jeff Brown. Trooper Brown located the suspect, who was still on the trail, and detained him until the arrival of Cookeville police officers.
During the struggle the victim sustained a knife wound to one of her hands. She was treated at the scene for her injuries. Her quick thinking and quick actions to defend herself quite possibly kept her from being more seriously injured.
Thirty-four year old Lance M. Estep, of Cookeville, was arrested after being questioned by Cookeville PD Detective Acuff. Mr. Estep was charged with Aggravated Assault and Aggravated Sexual Battery. He is being held on $50,000 bond.
The Cookeville Police Department wants to stress that this was an isolated incident. The Central Tennessee Heritage Rail Trail provides one of the many safe and family friendly locations throughout the city to enjoy outdoor activities.