She escaped the unthinkable and lived to tell her terrifying tale.
In an exclusive sneak peek at Snapped Notorious: The Cleveland Killer, premiering Saturday, July 24, survivor Gladys Wade-Thomas opens up about her near-fatal encounter with serial killer Anthony Sowell. While Sowell murdered eleven women and lived with their decomposing bodies inside his house before being arrested in 2009, six women including Wade-Thomas survived his horrors.
The former Marine approached Wade-Thomas as she was leaving a convenience store around the holidays. "He said, 'Merry Christmas,'" Wade-Thomas recalled of the chilling encounter. "All of a sudden, I was hit from behind."
Sowell then dragged Wade-Thomas to his Mount Pleasant home. It was a bold move that highlighted just how cocky his crime spree became, noted forensic neuropsychologist Dr. Diana Goldstein, saying, "He has incredible confidence at this point that he's going to get away with everything he does."
And that was nearly the case for Wade-Thomas, who awoke to find herself on the third floor of Sowell's house.
"I tried to get out but the door was locked so I started screaming," she hauntingly revealed. "He came in and said, 'B–––h you can scream all you want. Nobody can hear you. You're about to die.'"
Wade-Thomas remembers his "red eyes" all these years later: "It's like he had a demon in him or something."
But she possessed a heroic amount of strength: As Sowell was beating her, Wade-Thomas grabbed him and they went tumbling down the stairs, eventually breaking through a glass door. "I grabbed his testicles and I twisted them all the way around until I couldn't twist them no more," Wade-Thomas shared. "I tried to take his eyeballs out."
Once out of Sowell's deadly grip, Wade-Thomas ran to a local pizza parlor. Yet there, she found little help from bystanders, and had to take matters into her own hands.
Hear more of Wade-Thomas' gripping survival story ahead of the two-hour special in the clip above.
Snapped Notorious: The Cleveland Strangler premieres Saturday, July 24 at 9 p.m. on Oxygen.
(E! and Oxygen are both part of the NBCUniversal family.)