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Samaritan recalls surprise attack after stopping to help disabled motorist

Union Leader Correspondent

November 16. 2012 7:31PM

MILFORD - Mari Chapman spends a lot of time on the road delivering newspapers, so she's used to stopping to help disabled motorists. But after she was attacked by a man she tried to help on Thursday, she won't be stopping to offer assistance any more.

Chapman, 33, was heading to Hollis on Federal Hill Road in Milford around 10 a.m. on Thursday when she came upon a man and a woman in a black Honda Civic on the road with hazard lights flashing.

"I pulled up alongside the car and asked them if they were OK," said Chapman, "and the man said, 'Yeah, but I need a jack for my car."

Chapman pulled over in her Jeep SUV and chatted with the man, whom she described as "the kind of man whose parents raised him to be polite."

"I didn't get the feeling that maybe I should just move along," said Chapman. "They just seemed like nice, friendly people, so I wanted to try and help them."

But as Chapman was bending into her Jeep, reaching for the jack, the man suddenly came up behind her, grabbed the back of her hooded sweatshirt and threw her to the ground, telling her that he was taking her vehicle.

Chapman fought with the man, struggling to get back to her Jeep as he continued to assault her.

"The whole time I was fighting with myself thinking, 'stop fighting and let him take the car,'" she said. "But then I would think, 'hell no, he's not taking my car.'"

When Chapman finally got on her feet, the man punched her squarely in the face and sent her sprawling.

"I have never been punched like that," said Chapman, "and at that moment I decided that he was not going to take my car, so I kept fighting."

Eventually, Chapman said, she was able to make it to her Jeep, get in the driver's side and lock the doors. She took off and immediately called the police, but the Civic was gone by the time officers arrived.

Police are now searching for the attacker.

Chapman described the man as white, 20-30 years old, about 5'-10" tall, with a medium build, black hair, and wearing a black sweatshirt, blue jeans, and a navy blue Red Sox ball cap with a red "B."

The woman passenger was described as white, 20-30 years old, a petite build, and long, blonde hair (possibly bleached) with a small braid on one side of her head.

Police said the car the pair was driving was a newer model black Honda Civic with Massachusetts license plates, possibly with the letters Y and G in the plate number. Chapman said the woman got out of the car a couple of times during the altercation but didn't try to stop the attack.

"She definitely looked surprised, like she couldn't believe it was happening," said Chapman. "She tried to tell the man that they should go, but he just said, 'I got this.'"

Chapman, who carries a tow rope with her because she often helps motorist who get stuck in snow banks on winter mornings, said she won't be stopping to offer help again.

"I'll call the police and tell them there's a car on the side of the road, but I won't be pulling over," she said.

Milford police continue to investigate and anyone having information regarding the assault to asked to contact them at 249-0630.

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