Editor's note: The Douglas County sheriff's office said the Mattoon woman has recanted her story.
ARCOLA — The Douglas County sheriff's office is trying to find a hitchhiker who sexually assaulted a woman over the weekend.
Peter Buckley, chief deputy of the sheriff's office, said a 32-year-old woman was driving from Mattoon toward Arcola on Saturday afternoon when she picked up a male hitchhiker on a rural road.
Since the woman had groceries in her front passenger seat, the hitchhiker, who called himself "Charlie," sat in the back seat right behind her.
As the woman drove, the hitchhiker put a rope around her neck and began to strangle her.
The man directed the woman to drive to an area in the country where there were two grain bins close together. He forced her out of the car and between the grain bins.
When the man ripped the woman's top, she hit him back in return.
The hitchhiker then knocked her down and began to sexually assault her.
The attack was interrupted when several cars passed by, and the man used a box cutter to cut the woman's throat.
Buckley said the man punched the woman multiple times in the face, causing one eye to swell shut and cutting her lip, which required several stitches.
While the woman was dazed, the man ran away in an unknown direction.
The woman later managed to drive to the Casey's General Store in Arcola, where she reported the incident to police at 5:39 p.m. Saturday.
According to Buckley, the woman had a black eye, her face was swollen, she had a bloody lip and her throat had been cut. She was taken to Sarah Bush Lincoln Health Center in Mattoon, where she was treated and released.
The woman described the attacker as a white man in his late 40s or early 50s. He is 6 feet 2 inches tall, 150 pounds with a skinny build, salt and pepper colored mustache and hair, which was tied in a ponytail.
The man's front teeth were crooked, and he was wearing tight bluejeans and a black colored T-shirt with the insignia of a rock and roll band on the front.
The man also had a faded tattoo on one forearm, and a mole between his eye and his nose.
Persons with information about the incident are asked to call the Douglas County sheriff's office at 253-2913 or Douglas County Crimestoppers at 800-280-8316.