When Rejection Turns Violent

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This episode of “Your Worst Nightmare” which aired on Investigation Discovery was based on a true story.

Lois Peterson was a 62-year-old Texas resident who was independent, lived alone, and kept to herself. She had a neighbor named Jeffrey Alan Maxwell who would visit her and do nice things for her. He even asked her out a couple of times, but she told him that she would prefer to remain neighbors. Frustrated by her rejection, he told her that she’d be sorry for turning him down. Jeffrey disappeared for a while and the talk of their small town was that he’d purchased some farmland a hundred miles away in another town. Six years later, he paid Lois a visit and asked how she was doing. His tone of voice and overall demeanor seemed really eerie. Jeffrey asked Lois to go out with him again and she refused. Next thing I know, he sprayed mace in her face. Lois ran into her house and he followed her in, hit her over the head with a rolling pin and dragged her out the house.

Jeffrey took her to his home 100 miles away and held her captive for 13 days. He beat, tortured and raped her; he also put her on a deer skinning device which strung her high up in the air, put her in a wooden box and shoved it under a work bench, and also chained her to his bed.

During this entire ordeal, Lois prayed nonstop despite him mocking her faith. One day she was reported missing because her home had been burned down, but the police couldn’t find her body (Jeffrey told Lois that he burned her house down; I believe he did it to hurt her since she rejected him and wasn’t dependent on him). No one knew to look for her because she was a loner and kept to herself. The police ended up coming to Jeffrey’s house because he had forced her to write a check to him and state that it was a loan so he could have money to spend. When the police saw that Jeffrey had cashed the check, they decided to question him.

Jeffrey told Lois to remain quiet when they knocked on the door; as they questioned him about Lois and whereabouts, they could tell that he wasn’t being honest with them. Lois started shouting “Here I am!” and the police didn’t even recognize her, but she was finally rescued.

Here’s what stood out to me:

  • I admired that Lois’ faith was unwavering in such a terrifying situation; there are times when my faith is unstable and I’m not trusting God with things that I worry about. Lois believed that God was going to help her and even said if it was God’s will for her to die, she would accept it. But I don’t think she was ready to die because she kept praying for help and reciting psalm 23: “though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil…” I pray that my faith is firm when I reach her age; I’m still working on strengthening my faith and asking God to help me with this.


  • Jeffrey’s actions were disgusting! He only pretended to be a “nice guy” and did things for Lois because he hoped she would want to be with him. If he tortured her for rejecting him, how would he have treated her if she was actually in a relationship with him? If you do something from the kindness of your heart, then you shouldn’t expect anything in return. Some men claim to be “nice guys” and moan about how women want men who treat them poorly but yet these “nice guys” end up acting like Jeffrey or doing something similar. They feel entitled to a relationship or sex just because they paid for dinner, gave a compliment, etc. You can’t make someone want you by being nice to them or by “punishing” them. Rejection sucks but you have to find a way to move on.