A Florida woman alerted police that she and her children were trapped in a dangerous hostage situation by hiding a message in her pizza order.
In May of 2015, Cheryl Treadway and her boyfriend, Ethan Earl Nickerson, were in an argument when Nickerson pulled out a knife, reports The Washington Post. Treadway says that Nickerson threatened her, took her cell phone, and refused to let her and her three children out of the house.
Eventually, Treadway convinced her boyfriend to let her use her cell phone to order pizza for her kids. As soon as she had finished ordering from her Pizza Hut app, Nickerson snatched back the cell phone before she could use it to call for help -- not knowing that she already had.
When employees at the Avon Park Pizza Hut saw the order come in from Treadway, a frequent customer, they prepared to make her large pepperoni pizza as usual, reports USA Today. That’s when chef Alonia Hawk noticed the comments added on the order.
“Please help. Get 911 to me,” read the special instructions under the pizza order. Another comment said, “911hostage help!”
“I was kinda scared. I was scared for the person,” Hawk told reporters.
Store manager Candy Hamilton says she immediately felt the situation was serious. Hamilton immediately called 911, giving dispatchers the name and address from the order. She also quickly printed out the order slip, shown below in a photograph from WPTV.
Highlands County authorities were quickly dispatched to Treadway’s house. CNN reports that Treadway was able to flee the house to carry one of her children to safety.
She told officers that her other children were in the house with Nickerson, who was still wielding a knife. She described Nickerson’s behavior to the officers, who suspected Nickerson was under the influence of methamphetamines at the time.
After a 20-minute hostage negotiation, Lt. Curtis Ludden convinced Nickerson to come out of the house peacefully. Nickerson was immediately arrested, and Treadway and her three children were all unharmed.
Ludden credits Treadway’s quick thinking for ending the dangerous situation. “I don’t know if I ever would have thought of it ...,” he said. “The boyfriend never knew about it until he saw us coming around the corner.”