- Oops!Something went wrong.Please try again later.
Nov. 1—A Waynesville woman's night of domestic violence horror has resulted in justice being served following multiple guilty verdicts at a Haywood County jury trial last week.
Bryan Tadlock, 44, was found guilty of several charges for the attack of his then-wife last year and will serve at least 29 years behind bars and be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life.
"Domestic violence is a hidden crime," District Attorney Ashley Hornsby Welch said. "It's a crime that no one wants to talk about. This is not love. This is abuse."
Tadlock's convictions included first-degree kidnapping, two counts of assault by strangulation resulting in injury, assault with a deadly weapon inflicting serious injury and first-degree forcible rape.
On the night of the incident, Tadlock assaulted the victim numerous times with a pistol, hit and choked her and tormented her emotionally before raping her.
While the five-hour assault and the lead-up to it began that night, his abusive nature had been simmering. The couple got married in May 2021, with this violent incident coming less than a year after saying their vows.
The night of the attack
The events occurred one night in March 2022, after the victim picked up Tadlock from his job as a security guard at Haywood Community College at 11 p.m.
Once the couple arrived home, Tadlock began drinking and the victim headed to bed. Around 1:30 a.m., Tadlock — who is 6'2" and at the time weighed around 300 pounds — came into the bedroom with headphones on playing loud heavy metal music.
He began screaming at the victim, who is just 5'2", about her daughter. Tadlock had gone into his stepdaughter's bedroom and destroyed numerous items. He ripped posters off the wall and cut them up, pulled neon signs off the wall and cut their power cord, and cut up her backpack, resulting in damage to a school laptop that the victim had to replace.
He demanded the victim produce a diamond necklace that the couple had bought for her daughter on her 16th birthday.
The victim convinced Tadlock to leave the room and go on, but she could hear him continuing to yell in the other rooms of the single-wide trailer that the family lived in. She heard a glass break and then heard him leave the house and come back inside.
The assault begins
He re-entered the bedroom and continued yelling, this time holding a pistol with a loaded magazine.
"In the past when he was upset, he'd have the gun, but he wouldn't point it at me or use it," the victim said on the stand in court, further alluding to Tadlock's violent nature.
After coming back into the room with the handgun, Tadlock pressed the gun against her hip and leg and told her to "get up or I'll make you get up," according to the victim's testimony. "He held the gun against my head and told me to go get [the necklace]."
Tadlock then told his wife to put the necklace on the counter. She pled with him, begging him to drop whatever was going on and let it go. Tadlock refused and dragged the victim by her hair to grab a hammer.
After retrieving the hammer, the victim attempted to hand it to Tadlock, but he told her to bust the necklace. After she refused, he grabbed her by the head and shoved her skull into the stove, while shoving the barrel of the gun into the side of her head.
He then forced the gun into her mouth while still holding her head on the stove, knocking out her top set of dentures. She gave in and hit her daughter's valuable possession with the hammer. After she hit it, Tadlock demanded that she "hit it again," repeatedly.
"It felt like forever," the victim said about how long the gun was in her mouth.
The victim said she began to taste blood from the gun cutting the inside of her mouth. The blood soon began flowing from her mouth as Tadlock continued to yell for her to break the necklace.
"I was afraid he was going to kill me," the victim said at this part of her testimony. "He started choking me and just wouldn't stop."
She began to do anything she could to get help. She knew her neighbors often sat on their porch and smoked, and began screaming.
"She screamed hoping someone would hear her," Welch said during closing arguments. "But no one came."
At this point, Tadlock was choking the victim and striking her multiple times with the pistol, leaving bruising and abrasions on various parts of her head until she fell down.
"He had one hand around my throat and then the gun — just kept digging it into my head," she said.
The victim tried to grab the gun before Tadlock laughed and said, "Go ahead and pull the trigger."
Tadlock eventually laid the gun down while continuing the assault. The victim reached for it and was able to at least knock it out of reach.
"I didn't want to die," the victim said. "I didn't want him to have it."
At some point during the struggle, the victim suffered a cut on her finger so deep that the tendon could be seen. The tendon had disconnected from the bone and continues to cause issues for the victim to this day over a year later, even after six months of physical therapy.
While being held down and choked, the victim said she began to see flashes and then became unconscious.
"I remember opening my eyes and everything hurt," the victim said.
After she woke up, Tadlock seemed to realize what he had done. He helped her up and to a chair where he attempted to clean her up with a washcloth. He also gave her some pain relief medicine.
When Tadlock went to get the washcloth, the victim covered the gun that had been thrown with a sheet, hiding it from her attacker's sight.
Tadlock continued to rant and offered his form of justification for the attack.
"I'm sorry you had to go through that, but I had to teach you a lesson," the victim said Tadlock told her. "He told me to call him sir."
He also told the victim that everyone else was out to get her and he was the only one who could keep her safe.
"Even though he vowed to protect me, he was the very one who hurt me," the victim later said during a victim impact statement.
Finding an escape
After this, Tadlock proceeded to rape the victim. While she did not say no in the moment, it was only because she was still in fear for her life.
"I thought I wasn't going to live, so I said whatever he wanted, did whatever he wanted," the victim said.
This meant saying yes to the sexual intercourse that he had proposed, but as the state pointed out, this is not consent.
"When fear is in the room, consent is not," Welch said in her closing arguments.
After he had been asleep for a little bit, the victim got up and attempted to sneak out of the room.
She got up and began making coffee, giving herself an excuse if Tadlock had woken up. Once she realized he wasn't waking up, she grabbed the gun from where she had hidden it and stuffed it in her purse. She then got in their truck and drove to Haywood Regional Medical Center, a location both had previously been employed.
Once arriving at Haywood Regional Medical Center, the victim told the security guard, who she knew from her time working there, that she had a gun.
"She was in shock," the security guard, Greg Helsel, said on the stand. "She looked disheveled."
He was going to lock the gun up in a separate room, until he saw the blood on the gun. That's when he retrieved an evidence bag to place the gun in before locking it up.
She went back into the emergency room where she was seen by nurses and doctors. She had multiple hematomas on her head, swelling of her upper lip, bleeding inside her mouth, the cut on her finger and bruising and abrasions from her head to her chest.
"She looked like someone who had been assaulted," said Dr. Jan Feltowicz, who was the ER doctor at the time. "She was upset."
Waynesville Police officers arrived on scene and took statements from the victim. During this initial time, she said multiple times that Tadlock had not raped her, still trying to protect her abuser, something that Welch said is common.
Tadlock was found guilty by a jury of his peers on four of the original six charges.
All of his sentences were given consecutively, resulting in a minimum of 29 years and a maximum of 43 years in state prison. He will also be a registered sex offender for the rest of his life, pay a $25,000 for the rape offense and have a permanent no-contact order in relation to the victim and her daughter.
After sentencing, Tadlock gave his notice of appeal.