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Posted: 11:47 a.m. Tuesday, Aug. 12, 2014

69-year-old Ocala woman kidnapped, beaten after feeding the needy


Feeding the homeless photo
Feeding the homeless

OCALA, Fla. — 

A 69-year-old Ocala woman was kidnapped at knifepoint while volunteering with her church group Monday, authorities said.

The group was providing meals to those in need on NW 3rd Street and N. Magnolia Avenue.  Police said after all the people in need were fed, the victim, Tara Barnes, loaded her equipment into her car and got in the driver's seat to go home. However, that is when police said a man appeared from the back seat, put a knife to the woman's neck and told her to drive.

Barnes, at the direction of the man, drove east on State Road 40 toward the Ocala National Forest.  Upon arriving at the intersection of State Road 40 and 314A, police said the man told her to pull over to the side of the road, where he then put a rope around her neck and dragged her out of the vehicle. 

Authorities said he then brandished a weapon known as a"blackjack" and began to beat her with it.  While beating Barnes, police said he stated, "You rich b****** think we need your help?" 

Police said that afterward the attacker put Barnes back in the car and demanded her money, while again holding the knife to her throat.

Authorities said the man ordered her to drive back to Ocala. During that time, he put his other hand over Barnes' mouth and she tried to bite him, but police said that resulted in him removing her dentures and throwing them out of the car. 

The man then directed Barnes to pull into the parking lot of a Kmart on State Road 40, police said.  At that time, he beat Barnes again with the blackjack until she lost consciousness, police said. 

Authorities said that when Barnes woke up, the man was gone. Barnes was able to make her way to a Metro PCS store on Pine Avenue, where police and medical personnel were called.

Barnes had bruising to the face, arms and abdomen as a result of the incident and was transported by ambulance to a local hospital, police said.

The man's identity is not known. The description from the victim is that he is a white man, measuring at about 5 feet 9 inches in height, wearing a dark shirt, gloves and a mask. 

Anyone with information on the identity and/or location of the man is asked to contact the Ocala Police Department at 352-369-7000 or to send tips via its mobile MYPD app. 

Additionally, tips can be sent through Crime Stoppers of Marion County at 352-368-STOP, or by texting to 274637 using keyword 368STOP.