SKOKIE, IL — An 80-year-old Lincolnwood woman who was held hostage in her home for 18 hours last weekend may have been rescued thanks in part to her daily Wordle fascination, her daughter recently said, according to published reports.
Denyse Holt discovered a naked man lying in bed next to her last weekend, beginning a lengthy ordeal that finally ended Sunday night when police conducted a wellness check on the woman at 9:40 p.m. and arrested a Chicago man.
Holt’s daughter became concerned when Holt wasn’t responding to text messages and after her mother hadn’t passed along her Wordle score for the day, ABC reported.
Wordle is the online word game that has captured the nation’s attention and involves players attempting to guess a mystery five-letter word in six attempts.
James Harris, 32, Chicago was ordered held without bond after he was arrested and charged with Felony X home invasion and aggravated kidnapping with a dangerous weapon after he was arrested following a lengthy standoff with police.
Harris also faces two counts of aggravated assault against a police officer, a class 2 felony, after he stabbed the ballistics shield of a member of a suburban SWAT team after barricading himself in a second-floor bedroom in the woman’s home, according to police and prosecutors.
Police said the ordeal started when Holt woke up around 1 a.m. to find the man who was naked in her bed holding a pair of scissors. Police said he demanded the woman’s phone and threw it across the room.
Cook County Assistant State’s Attorney Jenna Reinhardt said that Harris told Holt that his clothing had trackers on them and said he wouldn’t hurt her if she remained truthful with him. When Harris was unable to warm up in the bed, he grabbed the woman and forced her into the bathroom, turned on a hot shower and made her lie on top of him in her nightgown, the prosecutor said. Afterwards, she gave him dry clothes from her closet, but he refused to allow her to change out of the wet clothes.
A neighbor called 911 that evening when Holt did not come to the door when her doorbell rang. With Holt’s car was in the driveway, the neighbor was uncertain why the woman didn’t respond. But police didn’t arrive until her daughter called from Seattle saying she was unable to reach her mother.
Officers soon found the woman in the bathroom and took her to safety about 18 hours after Harris left her there. Harris had previously barricaded himself in another room and continued to refuse to surrender. Eventually, police cut a hole in the wall and were able to shock him with a Taser as he stabbed a police riot shield, officials said.
Harris is due back in court on Feb. 23.
Holt, who returned to her home to find it splattered with blood after her captor had cut himself with the knives, told the Washington Post that she remains traumatized by the ordeal.
“I came back, and it didn’t look like my house. It just looked disgusting. … It just made me terribly sad, because I like my neighborhood,” Holt told The Post. “I like my neighbors. I like my house. And I know I couldn’t live there anymore. That’s just taken away from me.