CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The woman who planned to meet up with Neal Falls after communicating on an escort website never knew how her life would change when the pair had their encounter.
On July 18, investigators say Falls -- now a man whom investigators in several states are looking at as a possible serial killer -- attacked the woman named Heather.
Heather fought back, grabbed the gun Falls had and fatally shot him.
"She had visible scratch marks on her neck, her voice was raspy during that interview, she had been choked so much that her throat was affected by it," explained Kanawha County Assistant Prosecutor Mary Claire Akers. "She wasn't able to sit up very well because her back hurt, which turned out she had a broken vertebrae and she wasn't able to demonstrate fully what she did as far as shooting behind her back because her shoulder was separated and we didn't know that at the time."
In his pocket that night was a list of other women who investigators believe could have met a similar fate, which is why one woman says she believes Heather is a hero.
Laura Gandee has started a crowd-funding effort where people can donate to Heather to help her get her life back on track.
"She's extremely appreciative and humble about the outpouring," Gandee said. "She's kind of surprised by it."
The effort has already raised more than $1,000.
Gandee only met the victim a week ago but says she is impressed by her strength and will to live. She believes that Heather saved the lives of other women by fatally wounding Falls.
"All we want to do is say thank you for being a hero and here's some help to get you started on your way," Gandee said.
She says they will be monitoring the money they give her, explaining that Heather said she doesn't want it until she reaches a certain point of recovery.