Denyse Holt, an 80-year-old Chicago woman, was rescued from a horrifying home invasion over the weekend — all because of the popular mobile web game Wordle.
According to reports in local media, Holt was sleeping in her bed Saturday when a naked man broke into her house and took her hostage while brandishing a pair of scissors.
The 80-year-old said she was forced to take a shower with the intruder and was locked in her own basement for almost 24 hours when police arrived at her home.
They were tipped off by Holt’s daughter, Meredith Holt-Caldwell of Seattle, who asked for a wellness check when her mom didn’t text her about that day’s Wordle puzzle.
32-year-old James Davis III was subdued with a stun gun arrested at the scene following an hours-long standoff, reports added. He was charged with home invasion, kidnapping, and assaulting a police officer.
Denyse Holt Caught in Home Invasion
The terrifying ordeal began late Saturday night, local station WBBM-TV reported, when Holt was lying in bed at her home in Lincolnwood, an inner suburb on Chicago’s north side.
At some point in the night, the 80-year-old said she awoke to find an intruder standing before her bed: a naked man holding a pair of scissors and issuing bizarre commands.
“I was in shock,” she told the outlet. “He just threatened me.”
Holt said the nude man then got into bed with her, as she did her best to remain calm.
“I was trying to survive that’s all,” she recalled. “He said ‘I won’t harm you or molest you.’”
Before long, Holt said, the man instructed her to get in the shower with him, kicking off the first leg of the hours-long hostage situation. Her captor reportedly led her through the house and to the bathroom at scissor-point.
“Then he said, ‘No, I’m not warm enough,” she told reporters. “‘We have to take a bath.’”
The pair bathed together. Holt said she got into the tub in her nightgown, which was still soaking wet when they got out and the intruder began “dragging” her through the house.
She said her assailant walked around disconnecting her phones, leaving a trail of blood from the cuts he’d apparently suffered while breaking into the Lincolnwood home. In the kitchen, Holt said the man stopped to pick out a new weapon.
“He took two knives from my kitchen,” the 80-year-old told WBBM-TV. “He told me he liked those.”
Eventually, the naked man led Holt to the bathroom in the home’s basement, ordering her inside before blocking the exit with a chair, according to the report.
In the dark basement, hour after hour passed with no sign of help. Holt said she kept busy doing exercises in the pitch-black basement, but that she was beginning to lose hope.
“I was doing […] marching and stretching as much as I could,” she recalled. “I didn’t think I was going to live.”
Wordle Saves Hostage
Meanwhile, in Seattle, Holt’s daughter Meredith was starting to grow concerned.
Her 80-year-old mother still hadn’t opened any of her text messages from the last day, she said — and if that wasn’t strange enough, she hadn’t sent her score from that day’s Wordle puzzle, as she had every day for weeks.
“I’m across the country and I noticed this,” the daughter told reporters. Holt chimed in, ““I didn’t send my older daughter a Wordle in the morning. And that was disconcerting to her.”
Along with friends and family in Chicagoland, Meredith called police and asked them to check in on her elderly mom at her house in Lincolnwood.
By 9:40 p.m., almost a full 24 hours from when the hostage situation began, authorities arrived at Holt’s Morse Avenue home. Reports indicate police were involved in an “hours-long” standoff before subduing the burglar with a stun gun and taking him into custody.
James Davis III, 32, was charged with home invasion with a dangerous weapon, aggravated kidnapping with a dangerous weapon, and assaulting a peace officer — all felonies under Illinois law. It’s not clear if he’s been arraigned as of Thursday, and his bail information was not immediately available.
Police added that Davis appears to suffer from mental illness.
At the end of the horrific episode, Holt and her daughter said they were just thankful no one was hurt.
“I never thought in a million years this is what was happening, but it was,” Meredith said.
Holt agreed, “I’m very lucky.”