ZANESVILLE, OHIO (Times Recorder) -- She was lying naked in the road, with a rope around her neck, her body covered in fourth-degree burns.
The agony in her voice can be heard in the background of the 911 call placed by a motorist who found her about 8:30 a.m. Sunday on Ohio 208.
"She's got a rope around her neck," the man told dispatchers. "I've got her lying in the grass. She's in so much pain. She's a mess."
Despite the burns, the 29-year-old woman was able to tell the man she had been assaulted, possibly raped and then set on fire.
The man tried to maintain his composure while talking to dispatchers, guiding them to Steel Hill Road near the Tri-Valley Wildlife area while helping the woman the best he could.
His call gave her a chance, but with burns that go as deep as the muscle, she is in critical condition at Wexner Medical Center at Ohio State University in Columbus.
The Muskingum County Sheriff's Office is investigating how the Canton woman, whose identity is not being released, ended up here, in an area that is unfamiliar to even some local residents.
One thing they are certain of is that it wasn't random.
"In my 24 years in law enforcement, it's the most gruesome thing I've ever seen," Sheriff Matt Lutz said.
When deputies arrived at the scene, they immediately began looking for evidence that could lead them to the woman's identity and discovered what they think is the crime scene in a wooded area near where she was discovered.
Lutz declined to release what evidence deputies have found so far.
Sheriff's deputies are continuing to work in the Canton area after a vehicle was discovered there that might be linked to the woman, Lutz said.
Investigators with the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification are processing the vehicle, Lutz said.
Lutz is not releasing many details, saying the investigation is in a crucial stage, and there are several scenarios detectives are looking into, along with several suspects.
The woman had a lot of contacts in the Canton area, Lutz said, and detectives are putting every effort into finding out exactly how she got from that area to Muskingum County and how she ended up in such a brutalized condition.
"The next 48 hours are critical," Lutz said. "These burns have gone to her muscles, and I can't imagine the pain she's in."
Lutz also is turning to the public for help, asking anyone who might have seen anything in the Tri-Valley Wildlife area to step forward.
"Sometimes people see something, and they don't realize how important it is," Lutz said. "The public can sometimes be our best eyes and ears in these matters."