Trigger Warning: This article is about violence and sexual abuse
A cafe saved a woman from a violent hostage crisis after finding a note on her food order.
The 24-year-old had placed an order for the 24-hour restaurant Chipper Truck Café in New York City at 5 a.m. on Sunday, June 19.
Using the Grubhub app, she was able to leave a note with instructions, asking the restaurant to bring in the police and asking that they “don’t make it obvious.”
Alice Bermejo, who owns the Chipper Truck Café with her husband, said she received a call from a worker who spotted the note.
Asking what to do, the husband said: “Call the police, you can’t take risks, better safe than sorry.”
When they arrived at the property in the Eastchester area of the Bronx, the 32-year-old man who had held the woman hostage answered the door, assuming the food had arrived.
He was identified as Kemoy Royal and was quickly arrested when authorities discovered he was holding the 24-year-old against her will and sexually assaulting her.
The couple had met online months earlier, and became violent after meeting in person. Royal would only allow him to use his phone to order food.
Chipper Truck Café workers praised the woman’s quick-wittedness and thanked the police for their swift action in dealing with the situation.
They also received a call from the woman’s friend thanking them for their instrumental role in her rescue.
Alice’s daughter Alicia said: “They called to thank us and just to say, ‘Thank you so much for helping my friend and just, you know, making sure she was okay.’
“We really had no idea how bad it was until it all happened… Just knowing we were there and being open 24 hours a day gave him a way to go. ‘acquire help.”
Royal has since been charged with a number of offenses including rape, unlawful imprisonment, strangulation, criminal sexual act and sexual abuse.
Reports have since emerged that he was also charged with attempting to sexually assault another young woman days before the 24-year-old was rescued.
It is unclear why Royal was not arrested immediately for the first incident and was instead charged in both cases at the same time.
If you have been touched by this story, you can call Refuge’s National Domestic Abuse Helpline on 0808 2000 247, or talk to them online here. Or call the Men’s Advice Line by Respect on 0808 801 0327 or visit their website here.