Woman Fights Rapist and Suspected Serial Murderer

The press is filled today with stories recounting how a West Virginia woman named Heather was able to turn an assailant’s gun on him. This recent event holds some excellent martial arts and self defense lessons.

After opening her door to greet a stranger, Heather found herself with a gun held to her stomach. She heard the stranger, Neal Falls, utter three words “Live or Die?” and knew she was in trouble.

The stranger grabbed Heather by the throat, strangled her, and dragged her around the house. “I was telling him to please just let me breathe, but he wouldn’t,” Heather said. The man said: “I’m going to call the shots and you’re going to be quiet.

Heather grabbed a nearby rake, and when Neal Falls put his gun down to take the rake out of Heather’s hands, Heather grabbed the gun and shot the assailant, killing him instantly.

Little did Heather know that the man who assaulted her was a serial murderer, wanted in connection with the murder or disappearance of 9 women in Ohio, Illinois and Nevada. In the trunk of Neal Falls’ car, police found handcuffs, axes, knives, a machetes, plastic bags and a shovel.



In looking at the event from a martial arts perspective, a quote from Heather is worthwhile to note:

“I have been preparing for a long time for that split second where I have to save my own life.”

This serves as a good reminder for the self defense and martial arts principals we teach in Carmel Valley / San Diego:

1. Begging for your life will not help. When in danger you must be prepared to fight!

2. Mental preparedness is as important, if not more important, than physical preparedness. Prepare your “warrior spirit” in advance, for that moment of need.

3. Fight, and don’t stop fighting until you have repelled the attack!


As regular students of Full Potential Martial Arts can attest, developing the correct mindset and attitude is a large part of martial arts training. Still, even if you have had little or no formal martial arts training, you can and should defend yourself. Heather was not an accomplished martial artist by any means (in fact, the press does not mention any martial arts training whatsoever), she was able to defend herself.

Remember that in putting up a fight you are helping not just yourself. You are also helping future victims of the assailant. Assailants who encounter resistance are less likely to continue in their ways. By putting up a fight to Neal Falls, Heather saved countless future victims.


Self Defense is an attitude. Keep on training!


Brian is a life-long martial artist, athlete, and serial entrepreneur. He teaches martial arts and self defense to adult and teen students in San Diego, at the Full Potential Martial Arts dojo in Carmel Valley.

One comment on “Woman Fights Rapist and Suspected Serial Murderer
  1. Briana T. says:

    Scary stuff! Remind us to train to be vigilant and ready.

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