Orange County woman uses text message to escape hostage situation
It began with a single word via text massage: “help.”
That’s the message an Orange County woman received from her mother at around 4:30 p.m. on Sunday, along with an Eatonville address.
A cry for help from a family member.
An apparent hostage situation between a husband and wife.
What happened next was a tense, seven-hour standoff.
Deputies with the Orange County Sheriff’s Office arrested 54-year-old Eddie Barton Sunday night after he allegedly held his wife hostage in a home near the intersection of Kennedy Boulevard and Samuel Street in Eatonville.
Officers sought to make contact with Barton hours before but he did not cooperate, causing a standoff with police outside the home that went well into the night as red and blue flashing lights from police cars flooded the neighborhood street.
Local resident Annette Stubbs, who identified herself as Barton’s sister, said that drugs were involved.
“My sister-in-law and my brother are not themselves right now,” Stubbs told News 6 WKMG. “They are on some type of drug and they have mental issues – the both of them.”
The standoff came to a close when an Orange County SWAT team used tear gas to gain entry into the home and arrest Barton just before midnight. WESH 2 News reports that Barton had a history of domestic violence, so his wife and daughter had decided that “help” was their code word in case things became dangerous.
That discreet text may have saved the woman’s life, as Barton reportedly tried to strangle her.
“If she didn’t have that means of communication then nobody would have known that she might have been in danger,” Orange County Deputy Rose Silva told reporters at the scene. “Nobody knew exactly what the situation was, but it did lead deputies here.”
Barton’s wife was taken to the hospital with several injuries, while Barton faces multiple felony charges, including battery by strangulation – domestic violence, aggravated battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, and violation of parole.