GLOVERSVILLE — The owner of a butcher shop who allegedly turned away a woman — who, police said, had just escaped after being kidnapped and enduring days of torture — last week said he attempted to assist her but wishes he had done more.
Eddie Franco, owner of Bowman’s Market, recalled the victim — who police say was disfigured, tortured and sexually assaulted by her estranged husband and his girlfriend for nearly a week — was “bouncing off the walls” and covered in bruises when she first entered the East Pine Street store.
“At first I thought it was makeup,” he said, noting he thought maybe she was in a goth-style outfit and that she was covered in a large hoodie.
Franco said the woman never indicated that she had been kidnapped when requesting that he call a cab. He said he would have taken additional measures to ensure her safety if he knew what she had been through at the time.
“I wish she did,” Franco said. “I felt terrible for her.”
State Police last week arrested 31-year-old Justin Wilson and his girlfriend Nicole Elmore, 35, both from Gloversville, for allegedly abducting the woman at gunpoint on New Year’s Eve and holding her for several days at a residence in the town of Perth.
There, “the pair physically and sexually abused the victim causing significant injuries,” according to a police news release.
A disposition filed by the victim with police describes a heinous scene in which the alleged torturers repeatedly beat and sexually assaulted her over a six-day period, locking her in a filthy room with a pit bull. The pair also cut off the victim’s pinkie finger and then attempted to cauterize the wound with fire, according to the disposition.
Wilson and Elmore are being held at the Fulton County Jail without bail.
The woman was finally able to escape on Jan. 6 and sought help at Bowman’s Market, which she told police refused to help, according to documents.
Franco, however, said he was in the process of calling a cab when he asked the woman to put on a face mask or wait outside since he and his father, who was also working at the store at the time, have underlying health issues.
He said if he had a better understanding of the circumstances, he would have locked the store doors to keep the women safe until police arrived.
Before Franco could get the cab ordered for the woman, he said she disappeared, noting everything happened quickly in the span of four or five minutes.
The woman managed to secure a cab, which dropped her off near her grandfather’s home on Fruit Street. Her grandfather transported her to Nathan Littauer Hospital and called police, according to court documents.
Franco said he called city police afterward, and the department subsequently sent officers to speak with him.
He later spoke with police again and they asked for video footage he had of the woman.
State Police did not return a request seeking comment Sunday. An investigation remains ongoing.
“I’m sick over it,” Franco said.
Contact reporter Chad Arnold at: 518-410-5117 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter: @ChadGArnold.