Kathy Shaw: Exclusive Interview with NC Abduction Victim
Updated: Apr 6
It was the summer of 1981, Kathy Shaw, 23, was with her sister and friend in the rural county of Rockingham, North Carolina. What happened that summer haunted Kathy all her life and led her on a mission to find a monster.
Kathy and her sister were residents of Jacksonville, Florida. She and her sister drove seven hours north to Reidsville, North Carolina, to visit her sister’s friend.
It was a warm afternoon, and the rain was drizzling as Kathy, her sister, and her friend approached a small tavern located at 1086 NC 65. It was loud there, with patrons yelling and cussing, and it sounded chaotic inside. Kathy turned to her sister and told her she didn’t want to go in.
Ignoring her plea to go somewhere else, Kathy’s sister and friend went inside, leaving Kathy outside. As the rain continued to come down, Kathy angrily began walking on Highway 65 to find a payphone.
As she passed a church, she prayed for God to guide her to a payphone but she was in the country and there were no houses or stores in sight. It was now getting dark.
As Kathy walked up the street in an unfamiliar town, she could suddenly hear the loud noise of a truck motor behind her. The truck was bluish-green but looked like the paint had oxidized. It was similar to a 1969 Ford Farm & Ranch long-bed pickup truck. It had a silver toolbox in the bed, a lot of black dust, and what looked like rulers and paint supplies in the back.
A rough-looking man in his thirties pulled up alongside her and began asking Kathy if she needed a ride. He was wearing a backwards red cap, a white T-shirt, and blue jeans with black stains. Immediately, she could smell the odor of alcohol coming from inside the truck as he drove alongside her. His brown eyes seemed evil and felt like they looked right through her.
Kathy’s instincts immediately kicked in. She refused the ride and started to run but the man quickly jumped out of his truck and began pursuing her. He grabbed her by the hair from behind and pulled out a knife. He put the knife to her neck and told her she was coming with him, quickly dragging her to the truck. He pushed her into the passenger side, then got in, pulling her close to him.
He drove very fast for about 25 minutes, then put on his right signal light. It was loud and Kathy says she can still hear it today. He turned right and drove over big bumps as they passed by several black towers surrounded by dead grass.
Just past the towers, the man slowed and pulled up to a white house with a fenced-in yard. There were two diapered toddlers eating popsicles and wandering the yard.
The man told Kathy he had a gun and said, “I will blow your brains out if you get out of this truck.” He quickly went inside. Kathy was terrified and frozen in shock. There was nowhere to run. The house was isolated with no neighbors on a dead-end road.
He returned carrying a bag with rope inside that he threw in the back of the truck. The man got back inside the truck and they began to drive again.
When they reached Highway 29, he accelerated. Kathy prayed he would get stopped by the police. They drove for about 20 minutes and as he slowed, he turned right onto another dirt road.
The road was bumpy and Kathy saw a sign that said, “Rock Quarry,” now known as the Shelton Rock Quarry off I-29, on the North Carolina and Virginia border.
As they entered the quarry, Kathy saw a couple drinking on the side of the road. Kathy tried to jump from the truck but the angered man continued to swear and threaten her.
He continued to drive toward the bottom of the quarry to a rock overlook, then suddenly stopped. He pulled his gun out, took a sip from a bottle of whiskey, and yelled, “I’m going to count to three”, then counted “1–2–3.” He then demanded, “You better take your clothes off!”
She wanted to stay alive, so Kathy complied with his every order. He sexually assaulted her, pulling and spitting in her hair. The strong smell of whiskey on his breath made Kathy want to vomit.
For the next four days, she was raped multiple times and only allowed to wear her panties. At one point, Kathy had to go to the bathroom. He ordered her to urinate in the gravel while he followed her and continuously loaded and unloaded his gun. Meanwhile, he verbally tortured her.
She saw no way out. She had never been so afraid of someone.
On the fourth day, Kathy was tired, dehydrated, and starving. The drunken man was looking tired and he eventually started dozing off inside the truck where they had been sleeping. She thought this moment was her only opportunity to escape. Like those with Stockholm Syndrome, she felt he owned her — like he had won her over. However, despite her fear, she resolved to escape.
Kathy grabbed her clothing and contemplated for over an hour how she would run. She worried the old truck door would make a noise and wake him.
Thoughts swirled through her mind. If she ran, in what direction would she go? What about snakes? What if he chased her? Fear was gripping her, but she counted to three, opened the door, and ran.
The sun was just coming up as she ran upwards out of the quarry to the main road. She saw a white SUV coming and threw her hands up. The couple stopped and asked if she needed the police or a hospital, but Kathy told them to please just take her to a pay phone.
Kathy was taken to a convenience store. She refused to call the police and instead called her sister to pick her up. She felt ashamed and embarrassed and blamed herself.
Kathy spent years keeping this deep, dark secret. She became depressed and angry. Suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), she struggled.
The trauma was overwhelming and suicide seemed like the only way out. She tried two times to take her own life.
“I felt so ugly, dirty, sinful, and insecure,” Kathy said. “I went through divorces and found medicine was the only key.”
Years passed as Kathy continued to suffer from the trauma of those stolen nights and the fear that he might come for her again.
One day in 2007, Kathy was discussing what had happened to her with a friend.
The friend said, “Kathy, you are not to blame. Get in your car, pack a suitcase, and go to the sheriff’s office and turn this in.” What her friend said next continues to replay in Kathy’s mind 42 years later. The friend told Kathy if she did not report it, it wasn’t fair to other women who may also have been potential victims of the same man.
Kathy walked into the Rockingham County Sheriff’s Office on June 8, 2007, and made the report.
Police had a composite sketch completed of a man in his thirties, with tanned skin and brown eyes.
Due to jurisdictional issues, Kathy’s case has fallen through the cracks over the years, but her desire to find her abductor has never waned.
Recently, Kathy was online and came across North Carolina Cold Cases on Facebook. What she read shocked her.
It was a beautiful Saturday afternoon on June 30, 1979. Tammy Sue Aldridge, 20, decided to go jogging along her normal route on the rural Deep Creek Church Road in Alamance County, North Carolina.
Hours passed and Tammy’s mother Shelby Aldridge became worried.
“After a few hours, I knew something was wrong,” said Shelby.
A witness told investigators he had seen two white men in a bluish-green colored truck around the time Tammy was last seen.
After she was abducted, Tammy called home on both Sunday and Monday evenings and told her family that she could not tell them where she was but she was okay and would be home soon.
Tammy never came home.
On July 3, 1979, Tammy’s body was found at approximately 3:45 am on the side of NC 54 near Jim Minor Road, in Alamance County, about 20 minutes south of where she vanished. Her ankles were bound by rope and her body was still warm.
Investigators confirmed she also had a rope around her neck and wrists at one time as verified by the autopsy report. The cause of death was manual strangulation. Gray and red human hair was found on her body and clothing, along with dog hair. DNA was also collected but a match has never been found.
Whoever had kidnapped Tammy had kept her alive for three days.
“My husband went to his grave without knowing who did this,” Shelby told Fox 8 News. “As a mother, you just never give up hope that somebody might make a call to solve this case.”
A representative of Kathy’s called Alamance County Sheriff to discuss the parallels of both cases but the call was never returned.
Kathy believes the same man committed both crimes.
“The similarities are eerie,” said Kathy.
It is Kathy’s hope someone may recognize the truck or the house with towers from years gone by and be able to help solve these cases.
“Of course, I would like my own case solved as there is no statute of limitations for rape in the state of North Carolina,” said Kathy. “But to see Tammy get justice would be a mi
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