DAVENPORT– According to the Polk County Sheriff’s Office, Frederick Eugene Whitten of Haines City has no criminal record.
A search of his background did not reveal any previous run-ins with the law. He even looks like he could be someone’s sweet grandfather.
And yet, on Thursday, Polk County Sheriff’s Office deputies took the 58-year-old Whitten into custody, and he now faces very serious charges: second degree attempted murder, kidnapping, inflicting bodily harm, and terrorizing his victim.
The victim in this case, noted Donna C. Wood, the public information officer for the sheriff’s office, was a woman out for a morning jog. She got totally blindsided by what happened to her that morning.
“The female victim,” Wood noted in her report, “was jogging on the shoulder of the roadway in the area of Old Lake Wilson Road, Davenport, when she was struck by a red 2011 Chevrolet pick-up truck. Whitten was the driver.”
While the motive for the attack remains a mystery, the sheriff’s office reported that the woman was jogging and then got struck by the car that Whitten was driving — but that wasn’t the end of it. What happened next was even more shocking.
“After hitting the victim from behind, causing her to fall to the ground along the shoulder of the road, Whitten stopped his vehicle, retrieved a hammer from his truck and walked toward the victim,” Wood wrote. “Whitten then sat on the victim’s legs and attempted to strike the victim in the head with the hammer.”
At that point, the sheriff’s office noted, the woman decided not to be a helpless victim.
“The victim was able to pull the hammer from Whitten’s hand as she defended herself,” Wood noted. “Whitten then began to choke the victim and pushing her toward a patch of tall grass in the area.”
The two struggled for several minutes, when another car stopped and asked if the woman needed help.
“Whitten stood up and walked to the passenger side of his own vehicle at that time,” Wood said. “The victim then asked the witness to call 911.”
She also reached into Whitten’s truck and grabbed the car keys, so he couldn’t drive off. Moments later, deputies arrived and placed Whitten under arrest.
Whitten was booked into the Polk County Jail on no bond. The second driver who stopped to help did not wait for deputies to arrive, and Polk County detectives are now asking for help in locating that witness.
They are also researching Whitten’s background to see if he had other incidents of attacking joggers or pedestrians.
Whitten had his first appearance in court on Friday at the Polk County Courthouse in Bartow.
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