Bound Robbery Victim Types Help Message Using Toes
Atlanta Journal Constitution via YellowBrix
August 04, 2010
ATLANTA – Atlanta police Wednesday were looking into the possibility that Tuesday morning’s attack on a woman who was tied up and used her toes to type a computer message to her boyfriend is connected to a similar incident last month just a couple of miles away.
Tuesday’s home invasion and armed robbery happened around midnight in the 700 block of Glenwood Avenue, according to Atlanta police dispatchers.
Atlanta police spokesman Curtis Davenport told the AJC that police recovered the woman’s stolen car late Tuesday night in southeast Atlanta.
The chat exchange that Amy Windom had with her boyfriend early Tuesday.
Just before 5:30 a.m. Tuesday, the victim’s boyfriend, John Hilton, called 911 to report that 39-year-old Amy Windom had just contacted him and had been tied to her bed since midnight.
Atlanta police Capt. Van Hobbs told the AJC that when officers arrived, they found the victim still tied to her bed.
Windom told police that the intruder, who was wearing a ski mask, “took her around the house and went through her belongings, then bound her to the bed,” Hobbs said. “Her laptop was on her bed with her and she was able to use her toes to type a message to her boyfriend and let him know what had happened.”
Police spokeswoman Kim Jones said that the victim was in bed when the intruder entered, possibly through a basement door that had apparently been left open.
“The victim states that she was held for an hour at gunpoint as the suspect went through her house, going through her items,” Jones said.
“At some point, the suspect struck the victim in the forehead with a handgun, causing a laceration,” Jones said. “The victim was then tied to a headboard by her hands and the suspect left the house in her 2009 Acura TSX, tag number BGU-8496.”
The GBI released a sketch of the suspect.
Windom later used that laptop to send a message to Hilton and orchestrate her release.
“She picked up the bag, she opened the computer, she did control-alt-delete [to unlock the computer], which is tough,” Hilton said. All of it was done with her feet, because her hands were tied to the bed, he said.
“I e-mail her every morning before I go to work. I saw her on AIM, and she ‘pinged’ me first and her first word was, ‘HELP. CALL 911,’” Hilton said. “It was all caps.”
In a late-morning interview with the AJC, Windom said that she was in bed when the intruder came into her bedroom.
“We struggled for some amount of time,” she said. “He hit me on the head with the gun.”
Windom said her attacker tied her to the bedposts by her wrists, then “ended up staying for almost an hour. He went through the house and got various items that he wanted.”
She said she did a “lot of praying” while the intruder was inside her home. “He kept coming back into the room and I kept trying to say calming things and was hoping he wouldn’t hurt me.”
Once the gunman left just before 1 a.m., “I started yelling for help and trying to struggle to get myself free,” Windom said. “But the way he had tied my wrists with shoe strings, it was tightening around my wrists, cutting off my circulation and cutting into my skin. He tied me really well and I wasn’t able to get myself free.”
She said that for about two hours, she intermittently struggled to get free and yelled for help.
“Around 4:15 or so, I realized that he had left my laptop at the foot of my bed,” Windom said.
“I flipped my legs over my head and turned off my alarm clock so my radio wouldn’t be blaring and block me from hearing anybody walking by that might be able to help me, and I was like, ‘wow, I guess I can do more than I thought with my feet,’” so I dragged my laptop over with my feet and I pried it open.”
After struggling to simultaneously push the control, alt and delete keys to unlock her computer, “the wifi popped right up and it was a wonderful moment when I had the screen and realized my internet connection was live,” she said. “I was worried that the guy had cut my phone line, so I was worried that I wouldn’t have an internet connection.”
She said she used one big toe as a mouse, and grasped the end of her power cord between the toes on her other foot, “because my big toe was too big to hit individual keys.”
She typed a message telling her boyfriend to call 911, and police arrived a few minutes later.
“I had a lot of time to think about McGyver moments, because in the movies, they always free themselves from the wrist ties, but that didn’t work in my case.”
Neighbor Ben Speight described Windom as a “sweetheart” known for making baked goods for her neighbors. “She couldn’t be a sweeter person,” he said.
“I’m outraged that it happened in our community,” Speight said. “I wish that some of us could have been here to help.”
He said Windom’s home was also broken into on New Year’s Eve. “Fortunately, at that time, nobody was at home,” he said.
Susan Walens, who lives around the corner, told the AJC that the neighborhood has been plagued by more than a half-dozen break-ins in recent months.
“Twenty-six years I’ve lived here, in the same house, same corner, and never, never have I seen it like this,” Walens said. “And I moved in in ’84, when it was a ghetto.”
“It’s getting worse, with the economy the way it is,” Walens said. “After I got broken into, and every time I see something, I just want to sit in a rocking chair on my front porch with a shotgun. Once they hear that click, they’ll turn around.”
Police said they had no reason to doubt Windom’s account about her toe-tapping rescue.
“We are investigating the complaint as legitimate,” Davenport told the AJC. “We have no reason to believe otherwise.”