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A missed game of Wordle may have saved a woman’s life

A Chicago-area grandmother had a habit of sending her daughter a Wordle game every morning. When she didn’t send a game on February 6, her family knew something was wrong.  

Denyse Holt, who is 80 years old, had woken up to a real-life nightmare the night before. A naked stranger had crept into her bedroom — with scissors in his hand. He was covered in blood, Holt told CBS Chicago.  

“I was in shock,” she told the station of the 17-hour ordeal. “I was trying to survive — that’s all.” 

She stayed calm when the man got in next to her. She was even ordered to take a shower with him, then a bath — all while wearing her nightgown. 

Holt said he told her he had cut himself while breaking into the house. Leaving a trail of blood, she and the man went around the house, while he disconnected her phones. 

“He took two knives from my kitchen. He told me he liked those,” she said. “I didn’t think I was going to live.” 

After forcing her into a windowless bathroom in the basement, Holt said he barricaded the door with a chair. To pass the time, she began to do exercises, marching and stretching as much as she could.  

Her daughter, more than 2,000 miles away in Seattle, was worried after she noticed her mother had not read her texts and did not played their daily game. 

“I didn’t send my older daughter a Wordle in the morning. And that was disconcerting to her,” Holt said. 

So Meridith Holt-Caldwell called Lincolnwood police, requesting a welfare check.  

“I never thought in a million years this is what was happening, but it was,” Holt-Caldwell told CBS Chicago. 

Officers responded to the home at 9:40 p.m. and following an hours-long standoff, a SWAT team took the suspect into custody using a stun gun. Holt was taken to safety and was physically unharmed, according to police. 

Police believe the suspect, identified as 32-year-old James H. Davis III, has mental issues. He is now facing felony charges including home invasion, aggravated kidnapping and aggravated assault, CBS Chicago reports.  

Holt’s family hopes people learn from the ordeal — namely the importance of staying in close touch with loved ones. 

“I’m very lucky,” Holt told CBS Chicago. 



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