Naked stranger holds 80-y-o woman hostage for 20 hours

(CMR) An eighty-year-old woman in the United States was held hostage in her home for 20 hours by a naked stranger who broke in while she was in bed.

Denyse Holt woke up about 1 a.m to the naked stranger standing just feet away. The man, armed with scissors, got into bed with Holt, warning: “If you talk, if you yell or you scream, I’m going to cut you.”

The elderly woman, who thought she would have been brutally murdered in her own home, agreed to do as he said to prevent him from hurting her.

According to the Washington Post, Holt saw that the intruder was shivering and bleeding profusely. The man told her he was cold and needed all her blankets.

The intruder questioned her about phones in her home and threatened to cut her if she lied to him. When she expressed fear, he threw away the scissors and promised not to hurt her.

Still shivering under the blankets, the man said he needed to get in the shower and took Holt with him, she told Washington Post. When that didn’t warm him up enough, he made Holt, still dressed in her nightgown, lie on top of him in the tub. She recalled:

“I said, ‘Listen, you are the captain, and I’m on your team. Whatever you say, we will do.’ ”

His reply: “I like that.”

The man then locked Holt inside the small bathroom in her basement, where she waited for hours before she was recused. The woman waited in pain without food and her medication. She was also cold, still wet from the shower and bath with her intruder.

The elderly woman told The Post that she motivated herself with some “tough love” by thinking of the suffering others had gone through: Prisoners endured the horrors of concentration camps for years during the Holocaust. Climber Aron Ralston cut off his arm more than five days after a boulder had fallen on it.

The elderly woman recalled motivating herself, stating: “I don’t want to die like this, and I don’t want my kids to hear that their mother was murdered.”

She started doing the meditative breathing her daughter had taught her and marched around and stretched every 20 to 25 minutes.

According to the Washington Post, Holt considered her options of trying to escape, but after weighing the risks, she decided not to. She stayed put, despite feeling that the longer she and her kidnapper stayed in the house together, the less likely she would survive.

The woman was rescued after her daughters failed to hear from her. Her older daughter, who lives in California, was concerned that her mother hadn’t texted her score from that day’s Wordle, a daily puzzle in which solvers have to figure out a five-letter word in six guesses. Her other daughter, who lives in Portland, Ore., was confused that her mother hadn’t responded to, or even read, some texts she had sent — again, unusual behavior.

Efforts to contact Holt were futile as she didn’t pick up her cellphone, and they got a message that her landline had been disconnected. Holt had also not shown up for an event.

The daughters suspected something was wrong: Their mother had fallen, had a heart attack, or suffered some other medical emergency. They called a neighbor, Dave, and asked him to check in on Holt, which he did. Dave rang her doorbell — no answer. But, he told Holt’s daughters, her car was at the house.

That led the daughters to call Lincolnwood police to request a wellness check. Officers found and freed her.

Officers also came across a man, whom they identified as 32-year-old James H. Davis III, in an upstairs bedroom, armed with several knives. After unsuccessfully trying to Taser him, police called in the regional SWAT team, which arrested him.

Davis, who police believe was going through a mental health crisis when he broke into Holt’s house, has been charged with four felonies: home invasion with a dangerous weapon, aggravated kidnapping while armed with a dangerous weapon, and two counts of aggravated assault against a officer.

Holt has since decided that she won’t be staying in the house where she lived for decades, reared two children, hosted family and friends, threw parties and settled into retirement after teaching middle-schoolers for about 25 years.

“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. I like my neighbors. I like my house. And I know I couldn’t live there anymore. That’s just taken away from me,” she said.

“In one night, it is just all washed away by one person,” she added.

Despite that “trauma,” Holt got out of her ordeal with more than she thought she would and said she’s grateful for that.

“I still feel lucky to be alive,” she said. “I never thought I would come out of that alive.”

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Renae Stampp

Renae Stampp

A regional writer with almost 10 years of experience working in various news media including two major media houses in Bermuda and Jamaica. Renae provides professional content for our regional and international audience.

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