Kidnapped church volunteer: 'I knew he was going to kill me'

Ocala woman speaks out after robbery, attack


OCALA, Fla. – The 69-year-old woman who was kidnapped, beaten and robbed by a man hiding in her backseat spoke out on Wednesday, days after the attack.

Police are still searching for the man that attacked Tara Barnes when she was finishing up serving meals to the homeless in the Four Corners area in Ocala on Monday night.

"I was scared to death," she said. "I knew he was going to kill me." 

Barnes, who has bruises all over her body, tells Local 6 she thought she was going to die and is heartbroken that someone could do something so cruel.

"He stuck a knife to my neck and told me to turn right," she said, adding that he forced her to drive 20 miles and told her to pull over. He then beat her with a club.

"He just beat me all over with it," she said. "A man's got a knife up and down my neck, and beats me with a blackjack, that's horrifying."

Barnes said the man planned on leaving her bruised and battered, but didn't know how to drive her stick-shift. Barnes said she drove back into town to a K-Mart parking lot, where he robbed her and beat her until she was unconscious.

"I could have been out there with no money at all and I'd be dead I'm sure of that," she said.

The man stole $850 from her.

"I don't want to see him hurt, but I do want him to pay for what he did, " Barnes said. "It wasn't right."

Barnes, a volunteer with First Love Church in Ocala, said it won't stop her from helping the homeless. She has been cooking food for the homeless for two years.

"I don't want them to look down on the homeless," she said. "It was one person."

Barnes said she believes her attacker is someone she's helped in the past and even possibly watched her routine. He not only mentioned other women volunteers, but also knew some personal information.

"He's somebody that's been out there a lot and when I tried to bite him he knew I had dentures," she said.

Barnes' volunteer group tells Local 6 they plan to continue to volunteer, but will not take precautions and make sure all volunteers are walked to their cars.

For more information on how you can help the homeless in Ocala, contact Anita Crews at 352-843-8901.