NEW YORK -- A young rape victim who was held hostage at a home in New York City is now safe thanks to her wherewithal to place an order on a food delivery app, sending a chilling note pleading for the recipient to call the police.
The Grubhub order for a breakfast sandwich and a burger at 5 a.m. on a Sunday was nothing unusual for the folks at the Chipper Truck Cafe in nearby Yonkers.
What was strange was the note placed in the order's "additional instructions" field: "please call the police his going to call me when u delivered come with the cones please don't make it obvious."
Alice Bermejo of Chipper Truck Cafe said it seemed hastily written, requesting that cops arrive with food in order to disguise a rescue mission.
"She was basically saying to bring the police with the delivery," she said.
Bermejo, who owns the business with her husband, said he got a call from the worker who saw the order come up on the screen.
"They'd seen the note on the order, and they called my husband, said, 'What should we do?' He was like, 'Call the police, can't take any risks. Better be safe than sorry,'" she said.
The order came from an address in the Bronx, where authorities said a 32-year-old man was allegedly holding a 24-year-old woman against her will and sexually assaulting her.
Police said the victim met the man in-person for the first time after first connecting online, and the encounter turned violent. The man, identified as Kemoy Royal, allegedly wouldn't let her use her phone except to order food.
At that hour, her best hope was to send a message to a restaurant three and a half miles away. The Bermejo family is grateful to the employee who called the police.
"[We're grateful] knowing that we were there and that being open 24 hours allowed her to have a way to get help," Alice Bermejo's daughter Alicia said.
Royal opened a door, according to court documents, admitting he thought the woman's food had arrived. But it was the police.
He was hit with a slew of charges including rape, unlawful imprisonment, strangulation, criminal sex act and sexual abuse, among other counts.
Royal is also charged in the attempted sexual assault of another young woman days earlier.
That incident allegedly took place at his home on Tuesday, June 14, and was reported the next day. Somehow, that 26-year-old victim was able to get away. It's unclear why police hadn't arrested Royal for that first incident until Sunday, June 19.
He was charged in both cases at the same time.
Royal was arrested thanks to that Grubhub order, which the Bermejo's didn't know until they received a call from the victim's friend.
"They called to thank us and just to be like, 'Thank you so much for helping my friend and making sure that she was fine,'" Alicia Bermejo said. "We really had no idea of the gravity of the situation until after everything had happened."
They give the victim credit for her quick thinking in a frightening situation.
"I can't even imagine. I hope someday we get to meet her," Alice Bermejo said.