The knife-wielding suspect told Sheryl Powell he'd stab her "if you don't let me have my way with you," she said

By Chris Harris
July 16, 2019 11:15 AM
Sheryl Powell
Inyo County Sheriff's Office

The 60-year-old woman found Monday after surviving for four days in the California wilderness claims she became lost running from a man who’d brandished a knife before threatening to sexually assault her.

Huntington Beach mother Sheryl Powell vanished on Friday from the Grandview Campground in the Bristlecone Pine Forest area of Inyo National Forest, after taking her dog, Miley, a Yorkipoo, for a walk.

The Los Angeles Times, NBC News, and KABC, citing Powell and her son, Greg, report that, while on that walk, Powell was threatened by a man who jumped out from behind a tree.

Greg told the Times Sheryl was chased by the man, who was carrying a knife. The man, the son said, told her “if she didn’t give him what he wanted he was going to knife the dog.”

Powell, an experienced hiker, described the man as “burly” and told NBC News he told her to keep quiet.

“The first thing that’s gonna happen here, I’m gonna use this knife on the dog, and then if you don’t let me have my way with you, I’ll use it on you,” Powell said the man threatened.

Powell played along, waiting for the right moment to flee, she said.

“He was pursuing me,” Powell said, who realized she’d become lost as the fear finally dissipated. After the first day, her focus turned to surviving in the wilderness.

“I had to concentrate on how to get through this,” she told NBC.

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Powell said she survived by eating cactus fruit and drinking water from a spring she found. “It was actually good tasting water,” she noted in her interview with NBC.

RELATED: Missing Hiker Found After Being Lost for 4 Days in Remote Area of Eastern California

In the evenings, Powell wrapped herself with unused doggie bags, and her and Miley huddled together to keep warm.

After days of searching, Powell was discovered around 2 p.m. on Monday by a ground search team — not far from where rescuers had found her barking dog two hours earlier.

Powell initially went missing from a camping trip with her husband Joe when she exited their Jeep to take the dog to go to the bathroom while her husband repositioned the vehicle.

“Mr. Powell could not locate Mrs. Powell or their dog once he parked the Jeep,” reads a Facebook post from investigators. “After searching for almost an hour, Mr. Powell alerted law enforcement through his satellite device.”

Police are now trying to locate the individual who allegedly tried to assault Powell, but have no leads yet.

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