Police rescued an elderly woman who was held hostage in her home for 21 hours by a naked, crazed man after the woman’s daughter notified police that her mother did not update her about her daily Wordle score.
According to police reports, 80-year-old Denyse Holt woke up at 1 a.m. in her suburban Chicago home to a naked and bloodied intruder with kitchen knives who was threatening her life.
Holt said the man barricaded her in the bathroom of the home’s basement using a chair to block the door. She was left there for 17 hours.
“I was trying to survive, that’s all,” Holt told WBBM-TV.
Meanwhile, her oldest daughter, Meredith Holt-Caldwell, became worried after her mother failed to update her on her daily score from the popular online word game Wordle and was not reading her texts.
Holt-Caldwell immediately knew that something was wrong, as her mother would always send her results from the daily game. Holt was also not answering her phone.
“I’m across the country and I noticed this,” Holt-Caldwell, who resides in Seattle, said.
She first was able to notify a neighbor of Holt’s, who saw that her car was parked outside but was not answering the door.
The daughter then phoned Lincolnwood police and requested they conduct a welfare check.
When they arrived at the residence, police noticed a broken window with blood, suggesting a break-in. They entered using a neighbor’s key and asked if anyone was home. “I’m here,” Holt called.
Holt-Caldwell commended her mother for remaining calm and composed during a tense and dangerous situation. At one point, Holt told her captor: “You’re the captain. I’m on your team.”
“She just kind of played along and made him feel as though he was in charge,” Holt-Caldwell told the Chicago Tribune.
Officers discovered the man, 32-year-old James H. Davis III, armed with knives and scissors in an upstairs bedroom, and rescued Holt from the basement bathroom. A SWAT team eventually responded to the incident and used a Taser to subdue Davis.
“She’s amazing. She doesn’t really know how she was able to remain that calm,” Holt-Caldwell added.
She also credited Lincolnwood police for making her mother “feel so safe,” and said “they’re part of the reason she’s here today.”
Davis remains in custody at the Cook County Jail. He faces felony charges of home invasion with a dangerous weapon, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault against a peace officer. Police believe he was having a mental health crisis.
Lincolnwood Police Chief Jay Parrot noted that the incident serves as an important reminder.
“If something seems not right, please call us and let us investigate,” he urged. People may be reluctant to bother police, he said, but he added, “Please bother us.”