The 25-year-old woman had known William Thomas Parrish III since they were about 16 and had started seeing him romantically in December after he was released from jail.
A couple of months later, Parrish was holding her against her will in a modest brick home owned by his grandfather in Finksburg, according to court documents. By the time she managed to escape, the woman says, Parrish had beaten, burned and assaulted her, gagged her with socks and tattooed her with his name.
Parrish was arrested Saturday after authorities searched the house and is facing charges of first- and second-degree assault, false imprisonment, reckless endangerment and malicious destruction of property, police said.
In and out of the court system since his teens, Parrish has a record of violence against women, with previous convictions in Baltimore and Carroll counties, according to court records spanning nearly a decade. He has been convicted at least three times for assault and once for false imprisonment, and he has violated a protective order issued for his former wife at least twice, among other charges against him.
Parrish is being held without bond at the Carroll County Detention Center. His preliminary hearing is scheduled this month, court documents state.
Court records do not name an attorney in the current case, and calls to former legal counsel and county public defenders were not returned.
Former girlfriends and Parrish's family described the 25-year-old, who was raised primarily in Reisterstown by his paternal grandparents, as someone who could be charming and whose frequent incarceration seemed to affect his ability to live in "a normal world."
"He doesn't know what real life is no education, trade," an aunt wrote in a letter to the court in October, which she sent to the judge to provide background on her nephew. "I don't want you to think we think Tommy is an angel. ... [But we've] never seen the bad side of Tommy. Troubled Tommy yes."
That "Troubled Tommy" is the one some women in his life said they became all too familiar with in their often brief and tumultuous relationships.
In February 2000, Parrish forced then-girlfriend Allison - who asked that her last name not be used to protect her family - to drive him "from place to place in her parents' vehicle against her will," threatening her and her family if she didn't obey, according to court documents. As she drove the Chevrolet Cavalier to Florida, the records state, "she was allegedly repeatedly assaulted ... by being punched, slapped, bitten, and on one occasion [Parrish] pressed his knee into her stomach while threatening to kill her."
It was not until Florida authorities stopped them as she drove that Allison, now 26, managed to get help.
'I was afraid'
"I was afraid he was going to kill me," she said, explaining why she felt she could not alert people they encountered.
Parrish was later convicted of second-degree assault.
Allison said she had known Parrish since elementary school in Reisterstown. She started dating him at 18 and married him in 2000. Parrish was in jail at the time of their civil ceremony. She filed for divorce shortly after the ceremony, and it was made final in 2002, she said.
Parrish's former wife said she knew the woman in the latest case, as well as two girlfriends before her. Even though those women might have heard about the abuse Allison described, Parrish would convince them that she was lying about him, she said.
"He made people believe that I was the crazy one," she said.
But the Parrish whom Allison said she knew growing up did not show what she called his "Hyde personality." He was known to be wild, fighting with other men and getting into spells of trouble, she said, but "up until me, I've never known him to hit a woman."
"He did crazy things, but he was just fun," she added.
Allison and another former girlfriend said Parrish would become controlling as time progressed, and he regularly checked their cell phones to see whom they had talked to and listen to their messages.
"He would shove his finger in your face when he was talking to you," Allison said, repeatedly jabbing a cheek.
She recalled one night when he was drunk and angry. He head-butted her, leaving a gash by her left eye that required six stitches, she said.
Convicted in 2004
In 2004, Parrish was convicted of second-degree assault and false imprisonment in Baltimore County. All but three years of his eight-year sentence were suspended, said Marsha Russell, a Baltimore County assistant state's attorney. He also served three years of probation after his release.
In that case, Parrish's then-girlfriend told police that they were arguing in front of a friend's Reisterstown home when he picked her up and carried her "against her will" to her Ford Taurus, and had her drive them to another location to "work things out," according to Baltimore County court documents.
Another former girlfriend, who dated Parrish last year, filed charges against him in August and was granted a protective order. She also asked her name not be used to protect her family.
"In the beginning, he had my whole family convinced that he was just this great guy," she said. He would bring her roses and cards, she said, and come over for family cookouts.
"He was like Prince Charming," she said.
But then it all "withered away," she said. "You never knew what he was going to do."
In June, the former girlfriend said, the couple were cleaning the backyard when she got shocked by the lawnmower and bumped into Parrish. In response, she said, he threw the propane tank he was holding onto her foot, injuring her toe.
The woman in the latest case told police that Parrish pulled the ignition wires out of her Chevrolet Beretta while it was at the Finksburg house and also poured sugar into the fuel tank to prevent her from leaving, according to court documents.
A black Beretta was parked this week in the driveway of that house, which sits on a quiet single-lane road off Route 140. A small pond for birds was in the front yard and an American flag waved from a pole. Family members at the residence declined to comment on Parrish.
During the month and a half she spent mostly in a second-floor bedroom, the victim told authorities that Parrish abused her physically, "striking her head, face, arms, legs, back and chest area" and hit her in the face with a "large glass bottle," which caused "extensive bruising and abrasions to the victim's scalp and face," according to court documents and police. Parrish would shadow her every move, police said, not allowing her to speak for herself.
The exact details surrounding her escape Friday were unclear.
Carroll County Deputy State's Attorney David Daggett said the facts of her case "are very unique."
"This is more torture," he said, referring to photographs that showed the victim's fresh bruises and faded bite marks, along with with a cigarette burn and tattoos scratched out with tattoo ink.
Allison and Parrish's former girlfriend said his frequent time in jail seemed to have become part of his life.
"He always says that when he's out, it's his vacation," said Allison. "When he's in, that's his home." He didn't know how to live any other way, she said she remembered him telling her.
"It's all he knows," his former girlfriend said. "He means well. He just doesn't know how to act in society."
The letter last year from his aunt made a similar observation.
"Tommy needs rehab, job training," she wrote. "He has never lived in a normal world."
Despite his violent actions toward them, the women who have clashed with him said they question the criminal justice system in all of this.
"This is four women now, and they keep letting him out," Allison said.
"The system has failed Tommy," said his former girlfriend, adding that she thought Parrish needed rehabilitation along with incarceration. "They didn't keep up with him, they didn't make him go to anger management like he was supposed to. ... They think putting him in jail is going to solve it."
Sun reporters Laura Barnhardt, Laura McCandlish and Julie Scharper contributed to this article.