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Kidnapped woman calls for help via online pizza order, say police

Technically Incorrect: Tapping an app and begging for Pizza Hut to call 911 may have saved a Florida woman and her three children from her knife-wielding boyfriend.

Technically Incorrect offers a slightly twisted take on the tech that's taken over our lives.


Pepperoni and police, please. Quick thinking by a hostage sent help her way, say officers. WFLA-TV; screenshot by CNET

You're being threatened by your boyfriend at knifepoint. You have three children in the house. You're scared.

You're trying to leave the house. Your boyfriend has taken your cell phone.

What do you do?

These were the circumstances confronting 26-year-old Cheryl Treadway on Monday afternoon, say police.

They say Treadway persuaded her boyfriend to let her use the phone briefly to order a pizza with the Pizza Hut app. She ordered a pepperoni. But as WFLA-TV reports, she also added two messages: "Please help. Get 911 to me" and "911hostage help!"

WFLA News Channel 8

The manager of the local Pizza Hut, Candy Hamilton, said she's worked there for 28 years and never seen anything like it. The staff called the Sheriff's Office and deputies immediately went to Treadway's home.

Lt. Curtis Ludden told WTSP-TV: "She comes running toward us, but two kids are still in the house with a person who's on narcotics, and you don't know how their mindset is with a knife, and we need to get them out."

Ethan Earl Nickerson was arrested without further incident. He's been charged with aggravated assault with a weapon without intent to kill, battery, false imprisonment and obstructing justice by depriving communication to law enforcement.

Ludden was full of praise for Treadway's quick thinking. "I don't know whether I would have ever thought of it," he told WFLA.

The Sheriff's Office offered this statement: "Chief Deputy Mark Schrader credits the quick thinking of Cheryl Treadway in sending the text message for help."

How many, faced with such a terrifying situation, would have thought the Pizza Hut app might be their salvation?

And how many Pizza Hut employees would have acted as promptly as did Hamilton and her staff?