A central Florida woman helped save herself and her children by sending a message in an online pizza order that asked employees to call 911 because she was being held hostage.
The Avon Park Pizza Hut employees spotted what Cheryl Treadway wrote in the comment section of her online order. Employees recognized Treadway as a regular customer and called the sheriff's office.
Highlands County Sheriff's deputies went to the home, where they were greeted by Treadway, who was carrying a small child. She told them her boyfriend, Ethan Nickerson, 26, was inside the home, armed with a knife. Her other two children were also inside.
Treadway and the child were escorted to safety.
WFLA-TV reports Lt. Curtis Ludden started talking to Nickerson through a closed door.
"His first words were, of course, 'I'm not coming out because I know I'm going to jail,'" Ludden told the TV station.
It took about 20 minutes for Ludden to talk Nickerson into coming out peacefully. The children were not harmed.
According to an arrest report, the couple had been arguing throughout the day, as Nickerson carried a knife. When Treadway started to leave to pick up her children from school, Nickerson grabbed her and took her phone away. He went with her to the school.
Deputies say she eventually talked Nickerson into letting her use her phone to order a pizza. But immediately after sending the request, Nickerson took the phone back.
Nickerson was arrested and now faces multiple charges including aggravated assault with a weapon without intent to kill, battery and false imprisonment. He remained in the Highlands County Jail on Wednesday and bond has been set at $45,000. Jail records didn't indicate whether he has hired an attorney.
Authorities credit Treadway's quick-thinking and the fast response by deputies for a peaceful conclusion.
"I don't know if I would have thought of it," Ludden said of the message in the pizza order. "I mean it's just something she did so naturally. The boyfriend never knew about it until he saw us coming around the corner."
The cry for help was also a first for Pizza Hut manager Candy Hamilton.
"We've never seen that before," Hamiton said. "I've been here 28 years and never, never seen nothing like that come through."
A similar incident occurred about a decade ago when a woman called 911 and pretended to be ordering pizza. Keith Weisinger worked as a police dispatcher from 2004 to 2006. Last year, he posted a script of the conversation he had on reddit.com.
I had a call that started out pretty dumb, but was actually pretty serious:
“911, where is you emergency?”
“123 Main St.”
“Ok, what’s going on there?”
“I’d like to order a pizza for delivery.” (oh great, another prank call).
“Ma’am, you’ve reached 911”
“Yeah, I know. Can I have a large with half pepperoni, half mushroom and peppers?”
“Ummm…. I’m sorry, you know you’ve called 911 right?”
“Yeah, do you know how long it will be?”
“Ok, Ma’am, is everything ok over there? do you have an emergency?”
“Yes, I do.”
“..And you can’t talk about it because there’s someone in the room with you?” (moment of realization)
“Yes, that’s correct. Do you know how long it will be?”
“I have an officer about a mile from your location. Are there any weapons in your house?”
“Can you stay on the phone with me?”
“Nope. See you soon, thanks”
As we dispatch the call, I check the history at the address, and see there are multiple previous domestic violence calls. The officer arrives and finds a couple, female was kind of banged up, and boyfriend was drunk. Officer arrests him after she explains that the boyfriend had been beating her for a while. I thought she was pretty clever to use that trick. Definitely one of the most memorable calls.
That conversation, almost verbatim, became the basis of an NFL domestic violence public service announcement aired during the Super Bowl in February.