Court documents reveal gruesome details of man's brutal attack on girlfriend

Ryan Cameron
Carleigh Hager interview
Domestic violence victim
Brutal Attack 5pm

INDIANAPOLIS (WTHR) - An Indianapolis man accused in a brutal attack on his girlfriend appeared in court for the first time Wednesday.

Ryan Cameron tried to hide his face as he was led away from court, but Carleigh Hager wants the world to see her face - and see what she says Cameron did to her.

Cameron, 26, faces two counts of aggravated battery and one count of strangulation after reportedly attacking his girlfriend, 25-year-old Carleigh Hager, Saturday night at the couple's home.

"I feel like I'm not going to shut up about it either, I feel like I'm just gonna keep preaching it so long as I live," said Hager from a hospital room where she's recovering.

She says after two years together as a couple, trouble started a few months ago. It culminated on Saturday when verbal abuse turned physical.

"He tried to bite my fingers off. I have bite marks up and down my back, on my butt, he bit my neck, I don't know...I was unconscious for all of this," she said.

"It kind of makes me nauseated," said Amy Ballard, Carleigh's mother, "to think how many times I told him I loved him and thank you for taking care of my daughter."

The progression from kindness to emotional abuse and finally physical violence is not uncommon, according to those who work with victims of domestic violence.

"You never want to cut someone off who you believe is experiencing violence," explained Chris Handberg, director of programs and research at the Domestic Violence Network. "You never want to say,'this is too much for me, I'm going to cut off ties with you.' Instead, to always be that lifeline for them, even though it can be exhausting."

It's exhausting because oftentimes, victims like Carleigh stay in relationships, even when a partner is trying to control their every move.

"I just want people to know that that's not good, that's toxic. It's not a good relationship when you can't have freedom other than that person. It's just gonna keep getting worse," said Hager.

It will be a long road to recovery for Carleigh, and a lengthy legal process for the man accused of abusing her.

"I hope he is there for a long while, and, that's where he needs to be," said Ballard.

Cameron faces up to 34 years in prison if he’s convicted of all of the charges. A trial date has been set for December 19.

Cameron ripped out most of Hager's tongue and attempted to suffocate her with her own blood.

According to court documents, police responded to the couple's home late Saturday on a domestic battery call.

The documents say that Cameron spoke with police through the front door, but would not open it. Police could hear a woman crying inside.

When police threatened they would force entry, Cameron unlocked and opened the door. He was covered in blood.

He told police that he and his live-in girlfriend of two years were arguing about a wedding. He was then taken into police custody.

Upon entering the home, police found large amounts of blood. They found that a back bedroom door had been kicked open. There was blood on the carpet in the bedroom. They observed what appeared to be human hair on the busted-up door frame. A handgun sat on top of a safe in that bedroom.

A second door leading to a bathroom near that bedroom had also been forced open. Police say they found a "massive amount" of blood on the bathroom floor, walls and tub. It appeared that Hager had tried to escape through a bathroom window.

They found Hager inside the bathroom. She had multiple facial injuries and was covered in blood.

Court documents state that officers observed that the tip of one of Hager's ears appeared to have been bitten off, she had a deep laceration to her scalp and forehead and she had bite marks on her right forearm. Her eyes were bruised and swollen shut.

She told officers that Cameron attacked her.

She was transported to Eskenazi Health.

Police have recorded Hager's account of what happened.

She said she and Cameron had argued much of the day at a friend's wedding. She said Cameron got upset when she wanted to leave, but he wanted to stay. She said he was intoxicated.

The couple left with several friends who came back to the couple's home. Hager said Cameron began insulting her and calling her names, so she went to the back bedroom to escape. The couple's friends told police that they then smoked marijuana with Cameron in the living room.

Hager said Cameron later entered the bedroom, hit her and tried to strangle her.

She said their friends came and took Cameron back to the living room.

Hager told police that she doesn't remember much after that, but she does remember Cameron coming back into the bedroom and attacking her a second time.

That's when one friend described hearing a loud bang and all three witnesses described hearing a "choking" sound. They all ran to the back bedroom again and found Cameron with his hands around Hager's neck. They observed a large amount of blood coming from her her nose and mouth.

The witnesses were able to get Cameron outside into the yard. They said that one of them called police and Cameron began to fight with the other two. He then ran back inside the home and locked the door.

After calling police, the witnesses left the scene.

A GoFundMe page has been set up to help pay for Hager's recovery.