Georgia police received a frantic phone call at 5:30 a.m. Sunday from inside an Athens hotel room.
The 19-year-old woman on the other end had been kidnapped hours ago, Athens-Clarke police would later learn, enduring sexual assault and abuse at the hands of the man now trying to get into the room with her — who promised he’d kill her if she called for help.
Hours earlier, the woman had been closing up at the Golden Pantry where she worked as a clerk, just before midnight on Saturday, according to a police report.
Melvin Allison, 51, who authorities say is homeless, was outside in the parking lot. He often hung out by the store, and the clerk “tried to be kind to him when she could.”
As she was leaving, Allison rushed the clerk. Insinuating he had a gun, he told her “if you cooperate, nothing will happen,” and demanded she empty the money out of the cash register.
He then took her into another part of the store and sexually assaulted her, the Athens-Clarke police report says.
Allison forced the clerk to order a ride from Lyft. Once inside, he started calling the clerk names like “baby,” telling her to pretend they were a couple. He had threatened to kill the driver if she tried to escape or arouse suspicion.
Over the course of the kidnapping, they headed to a laundromat, four fast food restaurants during a single Lyft ride, and a hotel.
When in public, the clerk tried to make eye contact with people and openly cried, hoping someone would notice and do something to help. No one did, she told police.
During one ride she described Allison and the driver laughing and joking while she cried in the backseat. Allison paid the $24 fee and was “very apologetic” to the driver.
After arriving at the hotel, Allison threatened to assault her again. She asked to be let go and he replied “What if I can’t let you go?” the report said.
Later, Allison said he needed to meet a drug dealer in the parking lot to make a purchase, and took the clerk along with him. When he was distracted, she ran back to the room, locked it, grabbed the landline and made the 911 call.
As she was speaking to police, Allison was getting a spare key from the hotel’s front office. As the new key slid in, she ended the call. She told him she had called her roommate.
Police rushed to the hotel, and Allison took the clerk into the hallway to avoid being seen.
Finally, he said “I’ll let you go, but tell them I left,” and ran toward the front office, the report said.
Police were able to track Allison down using the phone he stole from the clerk.
GPS tracking narrowed down his general area, but then officers activated the iPhone’s “ping” feature and followed the noise to a trash bin in the parking lot.
“Officers lifted the lid and the audible ping became more pronounced,” the report said. “At this point, officers noticed a body laying underneath the multiple bags of garbage.”
Police ordered Allison to climb out of the trash bin and found the cell phone in the pocket of his pants.
No gun was found.
According to police, Allison was located and arrested within 45 minutes of receiving the 911 call.
He has been charged with sexual battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, aggravated sodomy, armed robbery, and battery.
Police are still investigating and anyone with relevant information is encouraged to call Detective Schmidt at (762) 400-7308, or email email@example.com