Social networking website Facebook has helped a Utah woman to escape a hostage situation with her 17-month-old son.
Both the woman and child were reportedly held hostage inside a Salt Lake City residence for nearly a week, police said.
Utah Police Sergeant Jon Arnold recounted the details of the woman's harrowing situation. Troy Reed Critchfield, 33, held the woman and her son hostage over a period of five days. Every time the woman attempted to leave with her child, Critchfield hit, choked, and sexually abused her.
Salt Lake County Jail records also revealed that the woman claimed Critchfield took her cell phone and the phone of a disabled child also in the home.
When the woman took refuge in a closet, she used her laptop to post her plea for help on Facebook. Her notification stated that she and her son would be "dead by morning" if they were not rescued beforehand.
The post prompted someone to call police. Officers soon arrived at the home to check on the woman's welfare. Salt Lake County Jail officials stated that Critchfield initially refused to let police into the home.
Those same records show that the woman shook her head to indicate "No," when officers asked if she was OK.
"Facebook was her only outlet that she had at the home," said Arnold. "It just happened that she was able to use it."
"She claims that any time she went to go to a door, he physically assaulted her," Sergeant Arnold told The Associated Press yesterday.
Police soon arrested Critchfield and booked him last Saturday. His charges consist of aggravated kidnapping, forcible sodomy, aggravated assault, domestic violence, child abuse, animal cruelty and other charges.
Sergeant Arnold stated that the woman had bruises and other physical injuries consistent with her allegations. However, she refused to go to a hospital for any medical treatment, he said.
The woman also told officers that Critchfield grabbed the boy's arms and abused him as well.
Critchfield is now in a Utah prison. Utah State Court records further indicate that in Dec. 2010, Critchfield pleaded guilty to felony aggravated assault and obstruction of justice charges in connection with a prior domestic violence incident.
A judge sentenced Critchfield to a prison term of five years, but later suspended the punishment for a 120-day jail term and three years of probation.