Report: Shotgun wielding man makes woman read Bible

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 16, 2012

By Nathan Hardin
CHINA GROVE — Holding a double-barreled shotgun to a woman’s head, a China Grove man made the woman pray and read her favorite scripture, authorities said.
Jonathan Alan Morton, 20, was taken into custody when deputies arrived at his Dusty Oak Trail home shortly after midnight Sunday, according to the Rowan County Sheriff’s Office.
Authorities said he held 19-year-old Elizabeth Nichols against her will inside his bedroom, pressing a shotgun to her head and, at one point, a screwdriver against her throat.
Nichols told officers she went to Morton’s house Saturday night because she owed him $70, an arrest report said.
Morton didn’t come to the door when she knocked, she said, and after several attempts she went into the home and found him in his bedroom.
“He wanted to talk about it and wanted her to sit down,” the arrest report said.
Nichols told deputies that Morton began slapping and punching her in the face. Arrest reports said Morton then grabbed Nichols by the hair and dragged her through the house.
The full report details one violent assault after another.
After hitting and kicking Nichols for several minutes, the report said, Morton told her he was going to get a gun, but returned with a screwdriver.
“He held it to her throat and said if she moved he would stab her,” the report said, “and continued to assault her.”
Then Morton went into his roommate’s room and grabbed a double-barreled shotgun, Nichols told deputies, and made her read her favorite scripture from the Bible at gunpoint.
“He stood behind her and held the gun to her head as she read,” the report said. “During this, he said to make sure ‘“she was right with God.’ ”
The report did not say what scripture Nichols read, and officials said today they didn’t know.
Officers noted at the scene, according to the report, that Nichols had a laceration on the back of her head.
At least three different times during the incident, Nichols said, Morton pulled the trigger on the gun. Each time, he told her he had only loaded one shotgun shell. After the last time, he told her he never loaded it.
While holding the gun, Nichols said, Morton struck her with the barrel and butt several times.
Morton then said this “didn’t have to happen,” the report said, and went into the bathroom.
He came back into the bedroom with a shoestring and began choking Nichols with it, she told authorities.
Morton told her he would let her live if she got him the $70, the report said, or she would need to come up with what she owed him “in valuables.”
Morton told Nichols they were going to her house to get the rest of the money, but he told her to “go clean her face” first, the report said.
Nichols told him she was going to get a change of clothes, the report said, then she fled in her car. She called 911 from a relative’s house.
Deputies initially obtained warrants for arrest on charges of felony assault by strangulation, assault by pointing a gun, assault with a deadly weapon and communicating threats.
Morton was found near his home walking in a ditch beside the road, deputies said.
He refused to stop when officers told him to, the report said, and turned around to face officers when they drew their Tasers on him.
“What the f— did I do?” he asked officers, according to the report. “I’m just walking around.”
He then placed his hands on the hood of the officer’s car, but tried to run away and was stunned by Lt. G.N. Smitley.
Morton was then charged with resisting, obstructing or delaying a public officer. Authorities later charged him with an additional count of felony kidnapping.
He was in jail Monday morning under a $35,500 bond.
Morton was released from prison in November after being convicted of two counts of misdemeanor violation of a protective order.
Contact reporter Nathan Hardin at 704-797-4246.