An 80-year-old woman is alive after enduring a terrifying home invasion by a bloody, naked man who broke through her front window, thanks in part to a popular online word game.
The incident happened on Feb. 5 in a suburb of Chicago in the US.
Police say Denyse Holt was taken hostage by 32-year-old James H. Davis III, a homeless man with a history of mental illness.
“I was in shock,” said Holt in an interview with CBS 2 Chicago.
“I didn’t think I was going to live.”
Holt said Davis first climbed into bed with her, as she clutched a pair of scissors in her hands.
“Just threatened me,” she said. “I was trying to survive, that’s all.”
“He said, ‘I won’t harm you or molest you.’”
Davis next ordered Holt to take a shower with him, then a bath.
He then dragged Holt around the home in her water-soaked nightgown, picking up knives in the kitchen along the way.
Davis then took Holt to the basement bathroom, where he barricaded her inside.
Over that 17-hour ordeal, Holt’s family noticed she hadn’t answered any of her texts.
In particular, Holt did not respond to an online puzzle game she played with her daughter, Meredith Holt-Caldwell, who lives in Seattle.
“I didn’t send my older daughter a Wordle in the morning, and that was disconcerting to her,” said Holt.
That triggered her family to call the police, who responded to the home for a welfare check.
“I never thought in a million years this is what was happening, but it was,” said Holt-Caldwell.
After an hours-long standoff with police, Holt’s family said the SWAT team used a stun gun through a hole in the door to subdue Davis.
He now faces felony charges of home invasion, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault against a police officer.
“I figured I could stay alive by not confronting him in any way, by making him in charge, by not disturbing him,” said Holt.