Video: Hands tied, woman uses toes to type for help

  1. Transcript of: Hands tied, woman uses toes to type for help

    MEREDITH VIEIRA, co-host: But let us begin with a woman who used quick thinking and her feet to free herself from an armed robber . We're going to talk to her in a moment, but first NBC 's Thanh Truong has the details.

    THANH TRUONG reporting: In this Atlanta home, 39-year-old Amy Windom endured some of the most frightening hours of her life. After midnight Tuesday morning, she woke up and found an armed burglar inside her bedroom with no one to help her. Ms. AMY WINDOM ( Burglary Victim who Escaped by Typing on Computer with Her Toes ): A guy, you know, entered my room. He had a gun. We struggled for some amount of time. He hit me on the head with the gun.

    TRUONG: Fearing for her safety, she initially wanted her face concealed when she spoke out hours after the ordeal. She says the burglar then took shoelaces and tied her hands to the head board. For an hour the suspect held her at gunpoint. He stole some electronics and escaped with her car.

    Ms. WINDOM: And then I started yelling for help and trying to struggle to get myself free, but the way he had tied my wrist with shoe strings, it just -- it was tightening my -- it was tightening around my wrist.

    TRUONG: Hands tied, she turned to her toes.

    Ms. WINDOM: And then around, I guess, 4:15 or so, I realized that he had left my laptop at the foot of my bed.

    TRUONG: After her cries for help went unanswered, Windom eventually took her laptop 's power cord and wedged it in between her toes like this so she could reach the keyboard and type out a message asking for help. Luckily, her boyfriend was online. "Call 911 police," she wrote. "I'm home, tied to bed, typing with toes." "On call now," her boyfriend replied. Police quickly arrived and freed her.

    Sergeant CURTIS DAVENPORT (Atlanta Police Department): Without the computer, it -- you know, we don't know how this -- how this could have ended or exactly when it would have ended.

    Ms. WINDOM: I don't have the world's prettiest feet, but I think I'll keep them. They came in pretty handy.

    TRUONG: It gives new meaning to being quick on your feet. For TODAY, Thanh Truong, NBC News, Atlanta.

    VIEIRA: And Amy Windom is with us this morning along with her boyfriend, John Hilton . Good morning to you both.

    Ms. WINDOM: Good morning, Meredith . Mr. JOHN HILTON ( Girlfriend Was a Burglary Victim who Escaped by Typing on Computer with Her Toes ): Good morning.

    VIEIRA: Amy , as Thanh just reported, at first you wanted to keep your identity under wraps. So why did you decide to come forward now?

    Ms. WINDOM: I think at some point you just -- you kind of want to come out of the shadows and just, you know, tell your story in the hopes that it might give someone, you know, some additional courage in a similar situation.

    VIEIRA: Yeah. I know you're also hoping that they find this guy. He did give you a big whack on the head with his gun. How are you doing this morning?

    Ms. WINDOM: All things considered, I'm doing very well, thank you.

    VIEIRA: I want to go back to Tuesday morning after this stranger, he gets into your apartment, he hits you on the head with his gun, he ties you by your wrists to the top of the bed and then he begins to ransack the apartment for -- the home, for the next hour while holding you at gunpoint. Eventually -- which had to be very frightening -- eventually he leaves.

    Ms. WINDOM: Hm.

    VIEIRA: You spend the next few hours screaming and trying to get yourself freed, neither of which is successful. Then around 4:15 you realize the laptop is sitting at the end of the bed. What went through your mind when you realized it was there?

    Ms. WINDOM: Well, I thought, I've got nothing to lose so I'll give this a shot and I pulled the laptop over and propped it up on top of the down comforter at such an angle that I could see both the keys and the screen and then I just figured out how to type with my toes and I learned very quickly that my big toes weren't going to -- weren't going to work and so I then reached over with my left foot and got the power -- the end of the power cord in between my left toes so that I could use that as a tool to hit the keys while I used my right toe as a mouse sort of device on the touch pad.

    VIEIRA: Incredible calm thinking. I know you have the computer with you right now. Can you demonstrate for us how you got your toes to do this?

    Ms. WINDOM: Sure. Sure. So it took a -- it took a little while to work it out, but I used, again, the right toe on the touch pad to move the mouse around and then I could right or left click with the right toe and then I used, again, my left foot to clamp down on the power cord and hit the various keys as best I could to type out the, you know, the messages.

    VIEIRA: Yeah. And I know at first you went to a 911 Web site. That didn't work out, so then at around 5:00 you e-mail your boyfriend, John . You guys are -- you've been going out since November and every morning you e-mail each other. He doesn't respond immediately to the e-mail, so you start instant

    messaging him. I want to read some of those to you: 5:06, you type, "Help. Read e-mail;" 5:07, he types, "What e-mail?" 5:08, "Call 911 police," you write; 5:09, "I'm home tied to bed;" 5:10, "Rob;" 5:12, "No ambulance necessary police;" 5:13, "Typing with toes." I'm amazed by how quickly you're typing these messages and with very few errors, which speaks to how calm you are and how deliberate, how determined you are to get out the right message to John . John , when you started seeing these come across your computer, what was your first reaction?

    Mr. HILTON: I didn't want to believe it. You know, I was thinking it was -- it had to be a joke, but she's a very serious person and I knew this wasn't something to make light of. So yeah, I just immediately did what she asked and called the police.

    VIEIRA: And I know you called 911. How do you explain to them why you were talking to them as opposed to her?

    Mr. HILTON: Yeah. That was a bit of suspicion there for a while. They were kind of curious why I was calling. I had to -- I had to describe to them exactly what was happening, sadly. And yeah, I just -- I just told them, you know, she's typing with her toes while she's tied up. You need to get over there.

    VIEIRA: Yeah, and Amy , I understand that at one point this burglar in your home or robber in your home was going to take the laptop and you convinced him not to because you said it had a tracking device in it, which is why he left it behind. How did you maintain your calm through all this? Because as I said before, it had to be frightening.

    Ms. WINDOM: It was very frightening and at the time, I wasn't actually thinking about the laptop being my tool to get out of the situation and help me get, you know, rescued. I was just thinking -- I was looking at my work laptop and thinking how much was on there that I didn't want to lose and so I told him, `That's an AT&T laptop , I wouldn't take it if I were you . It's got a tracking device .'

    VIEIRA: And it ended up really being the device that saved you. John , are you surprised in retrospect, at how calm Amy remained and how clever she was, really?

    Mr. HILTON: No. This is just another example of how cool, collected and calculating, really -- she impresses me a lot. So yeah, I'm not surprised how she figured this out and made the best of what she has. No, not at all.

    VIEIRA: Thinks on her feet and with her feet. And Amy , I know you told our producer that the only thing you regret is that your pedicure wasn't nicer. So go out and get a real fancy one.

    Ms. WINDOM: Thanks. I'll get that touched up.

    VIEIRA: Amy Windom , John Hilton , thank you very much .

Image:
By Wilson Rothman
msnbc.com
updated 8/4/2010 10:32:16 AM ET 2010-08-04T14:32:16

An Atlanta woman who was tied up early Tuesday during a home invasion toe-typed her way to freedom, according to news reports. Though the burglar had taken her phone, her iPod — and her car — he left her laptop, and that's what she used to send an instant message for help.

Shortly after midnight on Tuesday, an armed thief broke into 39-year-old Amy Windom's home, hit her and tied her to her bed, according to reports from the Atlanta Journal Constitution, WSB Radio and the New York Daily News. As the suspect went through her belongings, she pleaded for her safety, and asked that he not take her laptop. She said it had files she needed and was equipped with a tracking device.

After an hour casing Windom's belongings, the thief took her cell phone, iPod and digital camera and then made off with her car, a 2009 Acura. Still, it took her several more hours to come up with the idea that saved her.

Using her feet, she opened her bag. "I thought, I've got nothing to lose so I'll give this a shot, and I pulled the laptop over and propped it up on top of the down comforter at such an angle I could see both the keys and the screen," Windom told The TODAY Show.

She navigated to AOL Instant Messenger, but once she had the program open, she found it hard to type with her toes alone. "I started trying to type with the toes and realized that your big toe is just too big to type on keys, and you can't get your little toes curled around to type on individual keys," Windom is quoted as saying.

Her solution was to grip the tip of the power cord between her toes and peck out messages to her boyfriend, John Hilton: "CALL 911 POLICE."

"It took a little while to work it out, but I used the right toe on the touch pad to move the mouse around and then I could right or left click with the right toe and then I used my left foot to clamp down on the power cord and hit the various keys as best I could to type out the messages," Windom told The TODAY Show.

Hilton was surprised when he saw the messages. "I didn't want to believe it," he told The TODAY Show. "I was thinking it had to be a joke. But she's a very serious person, and I knew this wasn't something to make light of. I immediately did what she asked and called the police."

Though police responded immediately, they did question Hilton's call. "There was a bit of suspicion there for a while," he told The TODAY Show. "They were kind of curious why I was calling and I had to describe to them exactly what was happening, sadly."

"Thank God my AT&T DSL was working and that I had Wi-Fi that was working, and that John was online at 5 a.m.," Windom said.

"I don't have the world's prettiest feet, but I think I'll keep them," Windom is quoted as saying. "They came in pretty handy."

The Atlanta Journal Constitution reports that Windom's car was recovered late Tuesday night, and that police are investigating the possibility that the burglar may have robbed and tied up two other women in a similar home invasion last month.

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