Donna was left on the side of Toledo's Buckeye Basin Greenbelt Parkway, her naked body stabbed multiple times and exposed to the cold November air.
The 40-year-old Decatur, Ill., mother and grandmother later told Toledo police and relatives she was raped by the same man who befriended and then assaulted her.
"She was abandoned and left to die," Verneal Ludy, a niece of the victim, said yesterday at St. Vincent Mercy Medical Center, where the victim is recovering.
Donna, whose first name was provided by family members but whose last name is not being used because The Blade does not identify victims of sex crimes, was found about 4:15 p.m. Wednesday.
A school bus driver transporting children noticed the victim and drove to the city police maintenance garage downtown on Spielbusch Avenue to report the discovery.
The victim was taken to the hospital while police searched the area near where she was found and where she said the assault occurred, Capt. Ray Carroll said.
He said the suspect was described as black, in his late 20s, thin, wearing glasses and red clothing.
The captain said the victim had been traveling with a male truck driver at the Pilot truck stop off I-280 in Lake Township. She told police she hitched a ride to Toledo with a female truck driver, to whom she was introduced, to buy clothes.
Ms. Ludy said her aunt and the male truck driver, a friend, had been traveling together for about two weeks.
The two were on their way back from Pennsylvania and were expected home Wednesday. They stopped at the truck stop, where they had been for about two days.
Ms. Ludy said the female truck driver took her aunt to a bus stop, where she apparently got on a TARTA bus and met a man aboard who later attacked her. The man told Donna he could show her where a dollar store was located, the niece said.
Police said Donna and the suspect got off the bus close to where the victim was found. She told police the man walked with her, stabbed her, forced her into a wooded area, stabbed her again, and raped her, Captain Carroll said.
He said the woman was stabbed in the back and chest, and had collapsed lungs. Relatives said she was stabbed five times in the back and once in the stomach area and also was beaten.
"She was there two days," Verneal Ludy said of her aunt. "She [dragged] herself to where she was seen. It was less than 20 yards distance and it took her two days to drag herself."
Captain Carroll confirmed the victim was wounded "a long time before she was found." He said police believe the victim came from the area of the bike path off Lagrange Street in North Toledo because the weeds in that area were knocked down.
Police were not sure yesterday when the assault occurred, where the victim boarded the bus, and what happened to the woman who drove her to the city, the captain said.
In addition to the school bus driver who saw Donna, family members said a homeless man heard her calling for help.
Krystal Ludy, another niece of the victim, said the homeless man apparently lives in a wooded area off the Greenbelt Parkway. He found her aunt and was walking to a phone to call police when the bus driver passed by, she said.
Relatives said the victim didn't know her name when she first arrived at the hospital. They said she gave hospital personnel the Ludys' phone number in Illinois before losing consciousness.
Donna was described by her relatives as a strong woman with a big heart and very trustworthy of people. Her 17-year-old daughter, Nichole, called her mother's assailant "a monster."
"He needs to be found and take responsibility for his actions," Krystal Ludy said.
Verneal Ludy agreed: "He needs to feel the way she did - abandoned and alone."
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