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Police and fire

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Police follow trail of Easter morning stabbing to Ohio


A missing woman, a bloodstained apartment and a frantic 911 call from someone who said she was stabbed and held captive in a car.

That’s the information Fort Wayne police had to work with when they arrived Sunday morning at a Lakeside Drive apartment, which they said smelled of bleach and looked as though someone had tried to clean blood from the carpet.

Investigators would find the victim of a stabbing several hours later at an Ohio hospital, and the suspect would end up in custody after he apparently tried to kill himself in a car crash, police said.

What transpired between that first 911 call and the crash later in the day would result in burglary, intimidation, aggravated battery and criminal confinement charges against Tommy O. Townsend Sr.

Townsend, 45, of the 4100 block of Strathdon Drive, is accused of forcing his way into his estranged wife’s apartment and stabbing her twice in the back and once in the chest during a fight before taking her to Ohio.

Police first arrived at the home of the couple’s son, who said he didn’t know where either of his parents were.

But he came to find he had missed voice mail messages from his mother, the last one of which ended with several screams, according to a probable cause affidavit filed Tuesday in Allen Superior Court.

From the son’s home, police and medics raced to his mother’s apartment and found bloodstains and the strong smell of bleach, court records said.

As police tracked phone records and cellphone locations, they learned that Townsend had relatives in Piqua, Ohio, about 90 miles southeast of Fort Wayne, which matched what police found in the phone records.

About 5:30 p.m. Sunday, local police learned that Townsend’s wife had just been brought to an Ohio hospital with two stab wounds to her back and one to her chest, as well as a punctured lung. She was admitted in serious but stable condition.

A half-hour later, Fort Wayne police got a call from the Miami County Sheriff’s Department and learned that Townsend had just been arrested after he crashed into a parked car. He had taken several sleeping pills and told police he wanted to kill himself, according to the affidavit.

Fort Wayne and Ohio police learned from Townsend’s wife that she came home from work Sunday morning and found Townsend in her apartment; the two quarreled, and she forced him out. But he had a key and let himself in again.

Once he was back inside, the woman told police, Townsend hit her several times and stabbed her after he had her on the ground.

The woman recounted that Townsend told her how sorry he was for what he’d done and that he would take her to the hospital. Instead, he trapped her in his car and went to his uncle’s house in Piqua, the affidavit said.

When Townsend’s uncle saw the woman in the car with a bloody towel on her chest, he grabbed her from the car and took her to the hospital, according to the affidavit.

Police in Ohio arrested Townsend on a charge of operating a vehicle while intoxicated. He was still in custody Tuesday evening at the Miami County Jail.