MISSOULA - A Hamilton man accused of bludgeoning an employee of an escort service with the claw of a hammer has been charged with attempted murder.
Thomas W. Allen, 24, was charged Monday in Justice Court for an attack on Stormie Cooke late Friday in a Missoula motel room. Allen's bail was set at $500,000.
Cooke, 37, said she works for an escort service and had arranged a date with Allen on Friday night. Shortly after arriving at his hotel room, she told him she needed $200 up front.
Cooke said she was talking on her cell phone and assumed Allen was getting ready to hand her cash when he came toward her with the hammer.
"I had my hand out thinking he was going to hand me cash, but instead he swung at me and the hammer went through my face," she told the Missoulian in a telephone interview. "I could spit blood out through my cheek."
Cooke said she fought back during the assault and then ran from the room, but Allen followed, repeatedly striking her on the head, neck, shoulders and back. Cooke said she suffered numerous wounds, some that required metal staples to close. She said her broken jaw must be wired shut.
Cooke's roommate, Joseph West, was waiting for her outside and ran to her aid when he heard "bloodcurdling" screams and saw a man chasing her. West said he punched the man in the face and detained him until authorities arrived.
"I feel like I did what anyone would do," West said. "I've never heard anyone scream like that in my life."
Cooke said she visited with Allen for about five minutes before the assault began. She said he inquired about rates and asked whether she could spend the entire evening with him.
Still, she said, she would not let the attack dissuade her from continuing to work for an escort service.
"I'm not just an escort, you know? I am a mother. I'm a daughter. All I'm trying to do is support myself and my family," Cooke said.
"I went from being homeless three years ago and now I have my own place. I bought a car. I'm able to support my son."
Allen told investigators he never called an escort service. He said he woke up in his hotel room, discovered a stranger in his room and started swinging. Investigators say the evidence doesn't corroborate Allen's story.