"When I saw the body I though, 'My Lord, is there something we could have done to prevent it!'" said Rev. Jimmy Johnson.
Reverend Johnson lives less than a block from Saint Joseph's Catholic Church. Between six and seven o'clock Saturday morning Reverend Johnson was one of the first to arrive on the scene.
"Just as I turned the corner here an elderly gentleman waved me down," Rev. Johnson said.
It was then that Rev. Johnson says he could hardly believe his eyes.
"We really thought it was a large doll," said Johnson. "It really looked like a dead corpse. It just looked like a person that was dead!"
Lying just yards from the church, what Rev. Johnson first thought to be a doll or corpse was instead a woman. Brutally beaten, he says the woman was wearing only a t-shirt covered in blood.
"We saw her move and we were elated that she was alive," said Johnson.
Since Saturday the victim has been transferred from a local hospital to one in Jackson. At last check she was still listed in critical condition. Meanwhile, investigators in Meridian say they are checking out some leads.
"At the time she was at the hospital, she didn't offer a whole lot of information she was obviously in pretty bad shape," said Lt. Lee Currie, Meridian Police Department.
Although not yet confirmed, investigators say the victim was able to tell them that she had been raped by a black man, but nothing else.
Anyone with information on this case is asked to call Crimestoppers at 485-1860. If your information leads to a conviction you could receive up to a $1,000 reward.
Meanwhile, for residents such as Reverend Johnson the big question now is, "Why!?!"
"I've seen that picture over and over in my mind," said Rev. Johnson. "To think that a person could be out in the open all night like that, beaten by someone and no one know who did it or why. It could have been me. It has shaken me up. It makes you wonder if we're not doing enough to help people!"