Sign up to our newsletter
A quick-thinking Florida mother used an online takeaway order to raise the alarm, after her partner took the woman and her three children hostage.
Time reports that Cheryl Treadway was captured while trying to leave her house following an argument with boyfriend Ethan Earl Nickerson. At this point, Nickerson became violent, confiscating Treadway’s cellphone and prevented her from leaving the home.
When it came time for Treadway to collect her three children from school, Nickerson insisted on accompanying her at knifepoint, to ensure she would return as a captive.
Treadway used quick-thinking to persuade her hostage-taker to allow her to order pizza, briefly regaining access to her phone. Cunningly, she was able to include an SOS message in the area reserved for delivery instructions writing, according to Hack Read, “Please help. Get 911 to me,” and “911hostage help!”
The message came through loud and clear, and was picked up by chef Alonia Hawk, who passed the cry for help onto her Pizza Hut manager Candy Hamilton. Recognizing the address as a regular customer, Hamilton immediately trusted the call as genuine and dialed 911.
Highlands Country Sherriff’s office dispatched police and a hostage negotiator, who successfully convinced Nickerson to leave the house, where he was promptly arrested and charged with ‘aggravated assault using a weapon without aiming to kill’, ‘false imprisonment’, ‘battery’ and ‘blocking justice by rejecting communication with law enforcement’.
This quick thinking was a clever example of steganography – concealing secret messages in plain sight. By turning technology against her captor, Treadway’s story also makes a ‘just deserts’ companion to news of the ‘epidemic’ of partner tracking spyware, as reported by We Live Security here.
Author Alan Martin, ESET