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JONESBORO, Ark. – Five months after a woman suffered life threatening injuries, she explained why she believes she was brutally attacked and why police don’t.
Her ex-husband, whom has been accused of attacking her before, made several conflicting statements about events leading up to finding her near death in blood.
But the case is still closed.
Reporter's note: This woman is my mother, whom I have covered since last September. I deeply love her now more than ever but will be objectively discussing several sensitive topics out of necessity to find the truth.
Like millions of other Americans, my mom had an addiction to opiates which had detrimental effects on her life. Some of that will be mentioned in this story. As of this publication, she has been clean for months and is participating in a daily rehab program.
On September 16, 2018, Freda Foster was found in her home at 4800 East Perry Drive, Apartment B. She was covered in dried blood with her front teeth knocked out, her jaw broken on both sides and in the middle, her lip busted, below her jaw lacerated, the top of her head severely lacerated, and bruising on her eyes, cheeks, hands and arms. She also had dried blood and teeth in her esophagus and stopped breathing that night during an MRI. NEA Baptist managed to save her with a tracheotomy. She was initially catatonic and couldn’t speak. Slowly but surely, she has recovered her senses and functions today almost normally, except for almost total memory loss of events from July, 2018 until she woke up in September, 2018 in the ICU.
The story has been covered by NEA Report only, which will be explained in this report. The following details are factual events and testimony as outlined in incident report 18-08302 from Jonesboro Police Department.
September 15, 2018 (Day Before She Was Found)
7:53 AM – Freda calls her son, Stan Morris. She is coming to his home that morning but her son notices she appears under the influence of something. This causes a conflict that results in Freda leaving.
10:22 AM – Freda responds to text messages from her son about being under the influence.
Approximately 10:45 AM – Freda accidentally “butt-dials” her son, who listens to her speaking to a man while agitated about the morning conflict. The man says almost nothing in return. He responds with single syllable answers.
2:41 PM – Garry Foster Jr, Freda nephew, texts her to “Call me when you get a free min.” Freda responds “Who’s this?” and he identifies himself. A short call takes place, which is outlined below.
Approximately 3 PM – The last time ex-husband David Ishmael “spoke” to Freda, according to his initial statement to Officer Jonathan Haggans. She was supposed to come to his residence that evening and did not, he said.
4:25 PM – A text message from Ishmael is received on Freda’s phone. The text was never opened. “Hi Freda, need anything from the store?”
10 PM – A neighbor notices Freda’s garage door is up while her car is parked by the road. He had noticed her working in the yard earlier in the day, he said, but there is a discrepancy about what time.
September 16, 2018 (Day She Was Found)
12:22 PM – A text message from Ishmael to Freda is received on Freda’s phone. The text was never opened. “Packing your things, you going to come and get them or I can leave them at your front door.”
1:00 PM (approximate) – Neighbor calls 911 and asked for a welfare check on Freda at 4800 E. Perry Drive after her garage door was still seen open from the previous day, along with her car parked in the road. This was unusual for her, Hughes said. Toward the end of the call, he states he sees her possible ex-husband pulling into the residence and he has seen him over there before. He said he would call back if he needed the welfare check done.
Around 1:27 PM – Ishmael arrives at Freda’s home. He enters the garage, which is already opened, and finds her on the “bathroom floor” he said to the responding officer. In his 911 call, he said she was covered in blood and there was blood all over the floor. He said she stood up but she did not know what she was doing. He said he did not know how she was hurt.
1:27 PM – Officer Jonathan Haggans is dispatched to 4800 E. Perry Drive, Apartment B. He finds Freda seated in the garage in shock, covered with dried blood. She is unable to speak. She will spend 34 days in the ICU recovering. Haggans does not seal off the crime scene. Ishmael does not go with paramedics or follow them to the hospital. He never visits the hospital.
Reconstructing the Crime Scene
Because the crime scene was not secured, this reporter ordered family to stay out and immediately went to the home to take photos and video before even going to the hospital.
Blood was spread from the living room to the dining area and well into the kitchen. Three rooms. The blood appears to begin in the living room, in front of a fabric chair – but not on the chair, itself. The droplets appear to be vertical, as though they started while someone was seated in the chair. Detectives reported all droplets appearing to be “passive” and not blood splatter.
One area of the droplets is smeared toward the office. This smear is consistent with the location of a foot if someone was seated in the chair that pivoted to walk in the continued direction of the blood droplets.
Droplets become smears toward the office.
Foster would be in the rear area of this photo (above), where the desk and area rugs in cellophane are. As the blood trails toward the desk, a massive impact appears to have taken place on the corner of the desk. This is the area police say they think her face made contact with before she then crumbled to the floor.
From the corner of the bloody desk, Foster appeared to fall down to what could have been her final moment alive. At the base of her desk and at the entrance to the kitchen, Foster appeared to lose consciousness and lose a significant amount of blood.
Hand prints matching Foster’s hands are visible. A bare footprint matching her foot was also found, aimed toward the desk.
One reason she may have tried to go from the living room into her office after the sudden flow of blood began could have been her cell phone. Her smart phone was found on the floor under her office chair.
At this point, Foster has sustained massive trauma but not just to one side of her head. From the top of her skull to under her chin, Foster had lacerations. Her arms and hands were badly bruised in what was described as “defensive wounds” by nurses, doctors, and even veteran Fox News Channel Anchor Julie Banderas, who took an interest in the case.
In several photos, area rugs in cellophane are seen in Freda’s office. She said these had been at Ishmael’s home.
The door to the garage leads directly into the laundry area and straight into the kitchen, which leads straight to the office. The neighbor reported seeing Freda’s garage door open since he had come home the evening before, around 8 PM. Her car was parked in the street as well.
With Freda’s memory presently fractured, she can’t remember when the rugs were delivered but she told a reporter she believed Ishmael backed his truck up and unloaded it that day. She said she thinks he used his trailer, which might explain why she was parked in the road in front of her neighbor’s yard, rather than her’s.
Detectives noted her house was kept in immaculate order. Both she and others who know her say it would be unlike her to leave rolled up rugs in the floor for long.
“About 30 minutes,” Freda said on Monday, estimating how long she would have taken to place the rugs.
She never moved her car back or closed the garage. She was found the next day near death and covered in dried blood.
Two suspects were interviewed according to the incident report: David Ishmael and Steven Parnell.
Ishmael was brought in by Detective Wiiest to be interviewed on September 18. Ishmael said Freda was at his residence on Saturday, Sept. 15, “helping him move.” He claims she left between 3 PM and 4 PM to go home. He said he went to the store and text her asking if she wanted anything but she never responded. Ishmael’s version is that he was never at Freda’s home on Sept. 15.
On September 24, Parnell came to JPD to be interviewed. He said their relationship had ended in June, 2018. He also told authorities Ishmael had physically assaulted her in the past.
The detective also called Freda’s nephew, Garry Foster Jr., the last person to speak with her on the afternoon of Sept. 15. Garry told NEA Report he called his aunt but quickly had to get off the phone because she said Ishmael was coming over to her apartment.
“She said ‘I’m going to have to get off of here. David is going to be here any minute and I don’t want to be on the phone when he gets here,’” said Garry. “She said something else, which I can’t remember exactly. I know she said at least three times, ‘I have got to go before David gets here. He should be here any minute.’”
NEA Report reiterated the question to Garry, who was logged by police as being on the phone with Freda at 2:45 PM.
“She told me she was at her apartment,” Garry said. “She had said she had been over there and they had been moving some stuff around. She had came home and I believe she was going to make supper or cook for him. I know he was definitely coming to her apartment.”
However, Ishmael told the detective Freda left his house between “3 and 4,” stating he was not at her house. His text, sent at 4:25 PM to Freda, specifically asks if she wants anything from the store. She never answered.
For those who have never met Freda, the first encounter is almost always a wonderful experience. She is a sweet lady who cares more about others than herself. Unfortunately, she inherited several tendencies that make her challenging to speak to at times, especially when under the influence of opiates. She may say some of the most harsh, vile comments. She has a way of identifying a weakness one is sensitive about and attacking it. Because of this, she has had extreme conflicts in her love life. Some of those conflicts were physical including a prior incident with Ishmael.
This first is mentioned in the incident report during police interviews with the victim’s ex boyfriends, Parnell. He told the detective David Ishmael had “physically assaulted her in the past,” the incident report reads.
NEA Report conducted an interview with Freda on Feb. 25, 2019 to specifically explore the prior incidents of alleged domestic violence. She explained she began seeing Ishmael in 2007 and the two wed in 2012. By 2013, a love triangle began with her leaving Ishmael for Parnell.
“Steve was the only willing person who would take me,” Freda said. “No one in my family would let me stay with them. My finances were in shambles and he was the only one who wanted me to stay.”
The night she stayed at Parnell’s house, Freda alleges Ishmael busted her car windows out including the front windshield, the back window, and a side window. She didn’t witness him doing it but was told he had boasted about it the next day.
“I just know it was (David),” Freda said. “His sister-in-law told me he went over there and bragged about it the next morning.”
Freda said she didn’t fit in with Parnell or his friends. While there are often valid excuses each time, this would continue a trend in the story where she moved out from one and went to live with the other. Freda went back to Ishmael.
“He claimed he didn’t do it,” Freda said. “He claimed it was a “love triangle” and tried to make light of it. He had remorse for doing that so the first payment on the house, after I came back, he told me I didn’t have to make that payment. I knew he was doing that to make up for busting out my windows.”
Freda said the two did not get along after she moved back in. She indicated the split was unstoppable after she left Ishmael for Parnell. Both Freda and Ishmael exchanged vile text messages, she recalled, but as is her trademark, Freda took it to another level of cruel.
“I went from bad to worse saying all the women in your family are whores and your granddaughter would be too except she’s too ugly,” Freda said, presently ashamed of her words.
As is too often the case in this story, the two tried to make amends despite the unhealable wounds. During this time, Ishmael would be gone for the workday. She doesn’t have the precise date but the events she remembers and has told family about for years are impossible for her to forget.
“The entire 9 hours he was gone, he was stewing about me and what I had done,” Freda said. “He had mental problems and it was really bearing on his mind. He came home one night. Things weren’t good, I could tell he was in some kind of mood. He couldn’t shake it. I was in the bathroom doing my hair and makeup for bed. He came in there and I don’t know exactly what he said to me. Some words were said. He came toward me in a threatening manner and I backed up toward the bathtub and lost my balance. He was still reaching out for me. I wound up falling in the bathtub, backwards. There was a small office chair in between us. He didn’t even acknowledge that. He kept on coming at me. That lightweight chair landed on one of my arms. David was leaning over the chair, leaning down to me, with his thumb over my windpipe pressing it down with a menacing evil looking smile on his face. I was trying to pull his fingers, one at a time, with my hands, to keep his fingers from suffocating me. I was screaming. He was screaming. Finally he got up and I was pretending i was hurt a lot worse than what I was. I looked at my arm and it was awful. It was blood red and awful. He said ‘You ain’t hurt.’ This went on for 50 minutes, this fight.”
Freda alleges the violence did not end in the bathroom that night.
“This ordeal. He started coming at me now and saying ‘Say it now. Say it now.’ I was begging him ‘please stop, please stop.’ He threw me up against the towel rack with one hand around my neck. I was screaming ‘David! Please calm down. Please calm down.’ It went on for 50 minutes. Somehow or another, he began to calm down. He took his hand and arm and raked off everything that was on my vanity, including a $500 Bose stereo. He knocked a hole in the wall. That was the worst night of my life.”
Freda never filed a report with police. She said she had him served with divorce papers twice before while at work and felt guilty about police showing up to his job again. She did show her wounds and tell her story to family and friends. She left Ishmael after this incident, once again going back to Parnell. In 2014, she finalized her divorce with Ishmael.
In October, 2017, Ishmael was riding his motorcycle with others, including his son, John David Ishmael, 49. A motorcycle in front of the two hit an animal on Highway 141, causing both Ishmaels to collide with the bike in front of them. John was killed at the scene after striking a sign and then a tree. Freda said the incident was devastating to her now ex-husband.
“John David was his pride and joy,” Freda said. “He was like a beaten man.”
She felt sorry for him. In June, 2018, Parnell and Freda broke up again and immediately after, she began seeing Ishmael once more.
“David said he had changed completely and that losing a child had brought him into a different perspective,” Freda said. “I did see a change in him.”
But her memories end there. She kept her apartment on Perry Drive, clearly, but at some point, she went back to Ishmael’s residence (now in a different location). She can’t remember how and only knows it happened because her brother, who knows Ishmael independently, got her hair care and make-up products from his house to return to her after she was released from the hospital.
She doesn’t remember going back but knowing all he knows now, it is a decision her nephew can’t forget.
“When she first told me she was getting back together with him, I said ‘Freda, you’re a grown woman,’” Garry said. “’You can do what you want. But I want you to think about something. God got you out of that situation before. You know what [David] did to you. You need to think about that before you get back in it.’”
While Freda was hospitalized on Sept. 16, a Sunday, a detective was not assigned to the case until Sept. 18, which was a Tuesday. Because the crime scene was not sealed off, the only evidence collected was from under Freda’s fingernails. As of Feb. 25, that DNA evidence has yet to be processed by the State Crime Lab.
Detective Wiiest closed the investigation pending new evidence, determining it to be a fall. During this conversation, he also told her son he should be thankful that his mother was still alive. While his decision came at the end of October, evidence suggested police reached this conclusion long before then.
On the week of Sept. 16, 2018, The Jonesboro Sun requested the incident report for an investigation into a possible sexual assault/rape of Freda. The week of her injuries, a police source told The Sun she wasn’t attacked but had suffered a fall, according to Chris Wessel, editor of the paper. Even though Region 8 News had also met with family at the hospital, they too, oddly, would not touch the story.
NEA Report asked public information sources and the detective if they had communicated this to certain media sources. The answer was firmly no and Wiiest said the case was a very active investigation, giving family the impression he had not formed his conclusion.
During the same time, as this reporter posted updates on the personal situation to readers, local man replied with a curious comment that stood apart from well wishes and hopes for justice. Eric Turman, who has a documented close association with members of law enforcement NEA Report has reported on negatively before, made a curious comment about the “public finding out more” about the investigation into Freda’s case. When confronted directly, Turman denied knowing or being told anything. It would most certainly result in the termination of the officer responsible if he admitted it.
There were notable omissions in the investigation, too. Although the detective checked security footage on Sept. 16, which was the day Freda was found, he made no mention in his report of checking footage on Sept. 15, which was the day Ishmael claimed he was not at her home – a claim contradicted by her nephew’s conversation. The detective seemed resistant to look at the footage when pressed.
When the detective contacted Freda’s nephew, the conversation was brief without much substance, Garry told NEA Report. Even though Garry told a reporter he had explained to police how Freda said she had to get off of the phone before Ishmael arrived, there was nothing in the police report mentioning this.
“When I talked to that detective, he was just seeing who I was,” Garry said. “That’s what he was trying to establish – who’s number was this that she talked to. I told him and that was basically it.”
Another absence from the incident report is any mention of conversations with doctors. Dr. Jeremy Guirand, the hospitalist who first began treating her injuries on Sept. 16, was the physician who demanded police investigate the case. When family told him police were suggesting it was a fall, he said someone would need to be dumb to believe this. He said someone did this to her. Dozens of nurses, other physicians, and hospital staff all agreed during the 34 day stay at NEA Baptist. None were interviewed or cited in the report.
The Jonesboro Police Department did work hard to give family the impression that they were diligently investigating this case but there is question among most family members of how earnest police were in the search for the truth. With evidence of leaked conclusions to the media in the first week, a contaminated crime scene, security footage not being checked, and doctors being ignored, the investigation seemed less than conclusive to family and to Freda, herself.
The final sentence of Incident Report 18-08302 states “This case will be closed pending further developments or positive crime lab results from ASCL.” Police have the option to investigate this case further – especially if DNA evidence returns positive.
Although Freda wants to feel closure in this nightmare chapter, she has recovered and is rebuilding herself as a stronger person than before. She moved to another home, she’s getting around on her own, she’s healthier than she was, and she’s even smiling thanks to generous donations from the community.
It’s a smile no one expected to see again.