The victim, identified in news reports as Tina Waddell, 42, remained in the hospital today after suffering broken bones in her face. Doctors will have to wire her jaw shut for six to eight weeks, her husband, Jim Waddell, told an Atlanta TV station.
She was taken by helicopter to WellStar Kennestone Hospital after a bicyclist found her lying on the side of the trail near its bridge over Academy Drive and Vernoy Aiken Road at the trail's 19.58-mile marker Tuesday about 6:42 p.m.
Sheriff's spokesman Ashley Henson said in a news release, "The bicyclist called Paulding County E-911 to get assistance for the female who was going in and out of consciousness. Once emergency responders arrived on scene they stabilized the female so she could be airlifted."
Deputies and detectives then arrived and began assessing the crime scene which began on the bridge which crosses Academy and Vernoy Aiken and stretched into an adjacent wooded area, Henson stated.
The victim reportedly was walking east toward Hiram on the trail when the incident occurred.
"The preliminary investigation reveals that the female was severely beaten about the head and face and that she was going in and out of consciousness during the attack. It also revealed that there were no obvious signs of sexual assault," he stated.
Henson said detectives believe the attacker took the victim to the nearby wooded area and left her there.
"The female later pulled herself out of the wooded area where she was discovered by the passing bicyclist. As of now, detectives are trying to determine what the motive for this attack was," Henson said.
The victim was only able to identify her attacker as a white male with dark hair, Henson said.
The sheriff’s office urged anyone who may have seen anything suspicious on the tr ail between the Paulding County Chamber of Commerce and Tara Drummond trail heads Tuesday between the hours of 5 and 8 p.m. to contact the Criminal Investigations Division at (770) 443-3015, he said.
The attack occurred about two and a half miles from the site of the July 2006 murder of Jennifer Ewing of Sandy Springs on the trail. A Hiram man, Michael Ledford, later was convicted of murder and other related charges in the case and sentenced to death.
The 61-mile trail runs for about 17 miles in Paulding from near Hiram in the east to Braswell in the west.