(WTOL) - It was the most traumatic experience of her life, and it happened more than 40 years ago. Linda Boxell was stalked and nearly abducted as a teenager.
Over the years, she was able to put the fear of that incident behind her until just a couple of years ago when she says she recognized the man who tried to grab her and couldn't believe what she was seeing.
Linda Boxell and Patty Jardin have been friends for more than 40 years, and they often talk about the unusual circumstances that brought them together on Haverhill in 1967.
Linda was 19 years old and had just moved into her first apartment downtown near St. V's. She worked at commercial services in a building on Sylvania near Upton. One wintry night she didn't have bus money, so she decided to walk home alone. Just a few blocks up, a man pulled up beside her in a car and offered her a ride.
'You're cold why don't you get in?' That's what he asked, Linda explains. "I said, 'No I don't want to do that.' So I went a little farther. He went around the block and stopped again. 'You sure?' he said. I said, 'No, I don't wanna."
Linda adds, "He was very smooth. He was very persistent -- a business person. He had a suit on, dressed really nice... had all the right answers."
Still, something told Linda she shouldn't get in the car. When he wouldn't leave her alone, she ran into Start Drug Store on Sylvania near Martha and asked the pharmacist for help.
"I went in and said, 'There's this man following me, and I'm really afraid.' He said, 'Wait here for a little while.' So I waited for 10 minutes. When I went out, I went a few more blocks..."
That's when Linda saw the same car following her, so she tried to lose him by ducking into the old Mancy's Ideal Restaurant on the corner of Sylvania and Phillips.
"I went up to the bar, and said, 'Can I have a cup of coffee?' When I went up there, the man came in, and I just about died. He sat next to me and slipped a napkin to me and wrote a number on it. I said, 'What's that?' He said, 'That's how many women I've had.'
"I thought, 'I have to get out of here.' At that time, there was a Weisenberger car dealership and I ran in and I was telling them 'This man's after me.' He grabbed me and said 'That's my daughter -- we're having domestic problems.' So I slipped out of my coat, got away from him, and went through the service department. Around the back of the service department, there was a dry cleaners on Hawthorne St."
Patty tells us, "A young girl came running in and said someone was chasing her and could I help her. I said 'sure' and together we called the police and they came.
"That night when the police took me home, I went to bed with a knife. I told Maureen I'm so afraid he's out there, and we both moved back with our parents right after that," Linda says. "He knew what I looked like, and I knew what he looked like because we were face-to-face at Mancy's."
For the next 40 years, Linda never saw the man again. Not to say she ever forgot about her close call, but she lived a busy life. She raised two sons, became a doting grandmother and started her own interior design business.
Then one night in 2006, Linda's past came back to haunt her. "I was lying in bed watching the news, and there was a picture of this man. They had this man they were looking for that killed this girl in Toledo. I just had chills all over me. Even though, he was a lot older, I said 'That's the man. That's the man who had me."
In 2006, police issued an arrest warrant for Robert Bowman for the murder of a Toledo girl back in 1967 -- a cold case murder that was reopened, and reinvestigated using DNA technology. Police believe Bowman abducted Eileen Adams, held her captive in his basement, raped her, strangled her and dumped her body in a Monroe County field.
Linda remembered how shocking the murder was all those years ago. But as she listened to the news report in 2006, she realized there were some eerie similarities to her case. Eileen Adams was just 14 years old. Linda was 19 in 1967. Police believe Bowman kidnapped Eileen when she got off her school bus on Sylvania Avenue... the same area Linda had been followed. Also, Linda's stalking incident happened sometime in November or early December of 1967, which is right around the time Eileen Adams was murdered.
Last month, after two years of searching, police in California found Bowman and arrested him. He's been brought back to Toledo to face murder charges for a crime committed more than 40 years ago. Linda can't help but think about what could have happened to her if another young lady hadn't offered her help on that desperate night.
Walking today, Linda tells Patty, "I can thank you for my life."