Tatum picked up a 16-year-old girl that was trying to hitchhike home. Instead of taking her home, however, he took her to his apartment and demanded that she have sex with him. When she refused, he beat her about the head and face. He raped her and then beat her again. He ordered her to get dressed and then beat her again, this time into unconsciousness. At some point during all of this, he choked her.
He then carried her unconscious body to a dumpster behind his apartment. He threw her in and then began beating on her again, this time with a club. He then buried her in newspapers and tried to light her on fire. When this failed to work, Tatum went to a nearby gas station and got gasoline. After dousing her body, he lit her on fire. When the fire burned out, he beat her yet again. He also threw large rocks in the dumpster, aiming them at her head.
A neighbor that was taking out her trash saw the young girl and called the police. Amazingly, the girl survived. She suffered burns over the majority of her body and spent 60 days in a hospital burn unit and underwent over 30 surgeries. Two of her fingers and part of her thumb had to be amputated. A Silverton Police Officer who investigated the crime said, "It was a very vicious attack. It is probably one of the most heinous attacks that I have ever seen perpetrated by one human being on another and that includes murder cases with which I've been connected."