Survivor of hatchet attack confronts her past
By Ted Rowlands
CNN's Ted Rowlands interviews Terri Jentz about her search for the man who attacked her and a friend nearly 30 years ago.
REDMOND, Oregon (CNN) -- Terri Jentz was a 19-year-old college sophomore in 1977 when she and a friend were attacked by a man with a hatchet.
Seven days into a cross-country bike ride, the young women were camping along the Deschutes River in central Oregon, near Redmond. That night, a pickup truck crashing into their tent startled Jentz out of sleep.
"The tent was a piece of bloody nylon," Jentz says, as she describes a man getting out with a hatchet to attack them. "I heard my friend screaming 'leave us alone;' then I heard a sharp blow, then I heard about six more blows."
The attacker left the women for dead, but minutes later they were saved by two teenagers on a midnight drive, who saw Jentz signaling for help.
"She was just covered in blood; she had a hack mark in her head; blood was dripping down her face," says Boo Isaak, one of the teenagers.
The attack received national attention and stunned people in central Oregon, but police never made an arrest.
Jentz and her friend recovered from their injuries, and for the next 15 years, Jentz says, she went on with her life.
"I felt like I wasn't interested in who attacked me," she says. "I wasn't interested in the place where I was attacked."
But after years of reoccurring nightmares, that all changed, and in 1992 she started to investigate the attack -- 15 years on.
"I didn't have any idea who attacked me, and I didn't think I would ever find out," she says.
But in 1997, with help from Isaak and Sgt. Marlen Hein, a retired detective with the Oregon state police, Jentz found the man she thought was responsible.
He was just 17 at the time of the attack. His name is Dick Damm, and according to Hein, he was a suspect from the beginning, and not only to the police. Hein says the locals started calling him "Dick Damm the hatchet man" after the attack.
"I definitely feel that he did it, and I wouldn't hesitate to take that information to a grand jury," Hein says.
But he won't be able to because of the statute of limitations.
Damm, who is in jail waiting trial on unconnected robbery and assault charges, has told reporters and police since 1997 that he had nothing to do with the attack. He refused to talk to CNN.
Jentz has written a book, "Strange Piece of Paradise," about the attack and her quest for the truth. She says going back to find what happened to her has allowed her to move on with her life.
"I realized that in order to move on to the future I had go back and face my past."
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