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Victim in greenway attack fought back, smearing bag of dog waste in attacker's face, report says

Police said the man grabbed her without warning and tried to drag her into the woods -- punching her multiple times, which left her with head and face injuries.

KNOXVILLE, Tenn. — UPDATE 11 AM THURSDAY: The victim in Sunday's South Knoxville greenway attack told police she fought back against the man, smearing a plastic bag of dog waste in his face after he punched her and knocked her to the ground.

The man, identified by police as Michael James Ward, 47 and homeless, backed away and apologized, according to an incident report. The woman told him to go away, but he advanced again on her, pulling a small knife from behind him, the KPD report states.

"(The victim) said she began screaming and kicking the suspect and took her cellphone out of her pocket to call 911," the report states. "(The victim) said that the suspect then grabbed her cellphone and fled into the woods toward the river.  (The victim) said she then ran down the trail and used another walker's phone to call the police."

It appeared Ward escaped by a boat he had on the water, according to authorities.

"We did locate the suspect's shoes and a towel in a small clearing that the suspect had cut in the woods, which CrimeLab confiscated," the report states.

The incident happened south of Ijams Nature Center on the greenway in the Forks of the River wildlife area.

The victim this week was able to identify Ward from a photo, according to records. Ward's next court appearance is Friday in Knox County General Sessions Court.

(Update 8/24 at 9:37 a.m.) The Knoxville Police Department arrested a man suspected of attacking a woman who was walking her dog on a greenway at the Forks of the River Wildlife Management Area.

KPD said officers were searching for 47-year-old Michael Ward, who now had warrants out for his arrest for aggravated robbery and aggravated kidnapping.

According to KPD, a 30-year-old woman was walking her dog on one of the trails Sunday around 1:40 p.m. when she was approached by Ward. Police said he grabbed her without warning and tried to drag her into the woods -- punching her multiple times, which left her with significant face and head injuries.

Police said the woman fought back, and the suspect ran into the woods toward the river after two people saw what was happening and tried to help her.

Police said the man took the woman's phone during the attack. A K-9 team was called to attempt to track the man, but the dog lost his track near the river.

His last known location was in the area of the Forks of the River industrial park. 

Credit: KPD
Michael James Ward, 47