Case proceeds against man accused in attacks

Prosecution will proceed against an Appling man accused of violent attacks in three counties, a Columbia County judge decided Tuesday.


At a preliminary hearing in Evans, Magistrate Court Associate Judge Jason Troiano decided there was enough evidence to move ahead with the case against Michael Claude Maxwell.

Maxwell, 46, of Ray Owens Road, is accused in attacks and abduction attempts on three women in Richmond, Columbia and Edgefield counties on the night of July 23.

"He encountered three women that night," Columbia County sheriff's Investigator Tom Digsby said. "All three of them were fighters (who) absolutely refused to be victims."

Maxwell is charged in Columbia County with aggravated assault and kidnapping in the July 23 attack of an Evans woman in her driveway. He's being held in the Columbia County Detention Center, according to jail records. No bond has been set.

According to police, Maxwell followed the 31-year-old woman along several Columbia County roads to her home on Blair Street about 9 p.m. After blocking her in the driveway with his Ford Ranger pickup, he violently attacked her, threatened to shoot her and tried to force her into his truck. She escaped and Maxwell left. The woman was able to give a detailed description of her attacker and his vehicle.

"Less than 30 minutes (prior), he was attacking a woman at the Augusta Mall," Digsby said at the Tuesday hearing.

In coordination with Richmond County deputies, investigators determined Maxwell also tried to attack and kidnap a woman or steal her car in the Augusta Mall parking lot about 8:30 p.m. She fought back and got away, according to Richmond County authorities.

About 10 p.m., an Edgefield County couple discovered a man hiding in a closet. The woman said she recognized Maxwell because he'd worked on their home. He is believed to have broken in and cut electrical power to the residence.

Maxwell beat the husband unconscious with a tire iron and kidnapped his wife. She escaped on a dirt road in Aiken County.

After seeing bulletins from the involved counties describing Maxwell and his truck, McDuffie County authorities located him at Love's Truck Stop and detained him. The Evans woman identified Maxwell as her attacker.

In addition to Columbia County charges, Maxwell faces charges of kidnapping in Richmond County. In Edgefield County, he faces charges of burglary, attempted murder, kidnapping and attempted sexual assault.