TAMPA — Alisa Summers remembers the February night her estranged husband waved a machete at her, held her captive for hours and threatened to bind her with rope and tape.
She also remembers calling 911 as she fled to a nearby gas station. She stood in shock, she said, as Hillsborough County sheriff's deputies warned they could throw her in jail if she was filing a false report.
They knew she had asked for domestic violence protection from Trevor Summers on Halloween, she said, and they knew she had an evidence problem. They knew about the pending divorce and asked if her claims were an attempt to gain sole custody of the couple's five children.
But Trevor Summers, 39, said this week that his wife was telling the truth that night, according to court records.
His confession came only after deputies charged him with kidnapping his wife a week ago. He is being held in a Hillsborough County jail, with a bail hearing set for Monday, and faces a litany of charges including kidnapping and attempted murder.
"They messed up protecting me and my children," Alisa Summers, 37, said in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times. "The day I started saying 'this is domestic abuse,' I got out. I called 911 every time there was an issue, and I've hit a roadblock every single time."
Hillsborough sheriff's spokesman Larry McKinnon said he couldn't comment on Alisa Summers' interactions with deputies that night, Feb. 18, but said a report was filed and an investigation is still ongoing. No arrests were made because there was no proof, only her story and his rebuttals, followed by dueling requests for domestic violence protection.
Alisa Summers said she has done everything she could do to protect her family from her husband as he pitted her word against his with each call to authorities.
Neither Trevor Summers nor his parents could be reached for comment. An attorney name is not listed in his jail record.
However, public records document Alisa Summers' requests for help, as well as the court's dismissals. She never wanted to be a victim, she said, and still doesn't want to be viewed as one in the aftermath of her 54 hours in captivity with Trevor Summers, which ended Monday.
"I'll do whatever it takes, jump through whatever hoops they need me to, so this can finally be over," she said.
Her first call for help was to the Department of Children and Families on Oct. 30. She mentioned it the next day when she filed a domestic violence petition against Trevor Summers, describing his conduct that month.
On Oct. 11, he had refused to go to work, she wrote, because he suspected she was planning to leave. He prevented multiple attempts to escape, she wrote. She even tried "to get the attention of the man cutting our grass but he kept restraining me."
On Oct. 24, he came home early while she was calling a domestic violence shelter for help. She said he kept her from leaving, taking her keys and cellphone. When she ran outside, he pulled her back in, she wrote.
After a while, she convinced him to let her "cool off" and she left the home with the clothes on her back and four of her five children, she wrote.
On Oct. 28, he followed her car into the driveway of the friend's home where she was staying with her children.
Two days later, she awoke to flowers in the friend's mailbox.
A judge dismissed her permanent injunction request Nov. 10, citing a lack of evidence, and Alisa Summers filed for divorce a month later.
She and her children spent multiple nights in a domestic violence shelter, she told the Times. With help from friends and family she found a house and a job.
She and her husband have both sought counseling from Pastor Matthew Grise of RiverStone Community Church in Gibsonton, the pastor said. Alisa Summers also attended classes for survivors of domestic violence and for women going through a divorce.
"Trevor was more reserved, quiet, introverted, and Alisa was the extroverted one who thrived on relationships with other people," Grise said.
Alisa Summers' second domestic violence petition came Feb. 21, describing the Feb. 18 machete incident. She wrote that she went to Trevor Summers' home in Riverview to collect a $25,000 check and work on their marital settlement agreement.
When she gathered her belongings to leave that evening, he pulled out a machete and told her to sit on the bed and keep talking, court records show. It was an incident that he would deny for a month. He claimed it was a false report until this week when he was interviewed by detectives in the kidnapping case.
"Nobody dismissed the case," McKinnon said of the Feb. 18 report. "All the deputies had to go on were conflicting statements."
Alisa and Trevor Summers have been married since 2001.
She was 15 and a dancer on the color guard team when she first met the popular and outgoing boy two years ahead of her at Garnet Valley High School in Glen Mills, Penn.
They began dating when she was 19, and got married at 22.
He is the only real boyfriend Alisa Summers has ever had, she told the Times. When they met, she said, he was "spontaneous, very charming and so romantic.
"There was always something happening and life was always an adventure," she said.
Her parents weren't as impressed. They thought he was smooth talker who tended to exaggerate, said Alisa's mother, Donna Waryga, who calls her son-in-law "Teflon Trevor."
"He's gotten away with a whole lot for a really, really long time," Waryga said.
Shortly after getting married, her daughter became pregnant and left college just short of a business degree, her mother said. The family moved between Pennsylvania, Texas, California, Nevada and Florida, and babies kept coming.
Now, Alisa Summers faces a battle to reclaim them.
Court records don't yet explain why she doesn't have them. Many questions remain unanswered.
Hundreds of pages of reports on the family are not public, either because they relate to child custody matters or because law enforcement investigations have not concluded.
During five hours in a closed court hearing Thursday, Alisa Summers and her attorney argued she should have custody. Her husband participated in the hearing by video conference from jail, according to the court administrator's office.
Her motion was denied, and the children are still in the care of Trevor Summers' parents, where they were placed by the state in a sheltering action after the parents disappeared.
The days that followed her kidnapping have been "disappointing," Alisa Summers said, but the legal battle is one she's determined to win.
"I'm still fighting for healing for myself and my children, for the life we had," she said. "I'm still fighting to be free."
Contact Anastasia Dawson at firstname.lastname@example.org or (813) 226-3377. Follow @adawsonwrites.