Waldo, WI – A routine pizza delivery turned into a rescue mission for a Domino’s driver on Sep. 27, when he went to drop off an order at a home and spotted a woman wordlessly begging him for help.
“[I] gave him his pizza, and noticed behind him was his girlfriend,” Domino’s employee Joey Grundl told WDAF. “She pointed to a black eye that was quite visible. She mouthed the words 'call police.'"
The 57-year-old woman’s harrowing ordeal began at approximately 1 p.m., when her ex-boyfriend, 55-year-old Dean Hoffman, stormed into her home without her permission.
The woman told Hoffman to leave, but he allegedly tore her phone out of her hands and began dragging her up a flight of stairs inside the house, police said.
During the struggle, Hoffman shoved her onto her back on the stairway, ripped her shirt, grabbed her by the hair, and resumed his effort to drag her upstairs.
The woman fought back by kicking Hoffman in the groin, at which point he punched her in the face.
She suffered a black eye and her nose began to bleed, so Hoffman locked himself in the bathroom with her for approximately a half hour as she tended to her own injuries.
He then forced the woman to an upstairs bedroom, and bound her feet and hands with a vacuum power cord before he stuffed a towel into her mouth so that “nobody would be able to hear her,” prosecutors said.
The victim later told police that the towel limited her ability to breathe, and that she was afraid she was going to die.
Hoffman untied the woman about a half hour later, then held her captive in her own home for several hours.
“If you love me, you will let me go,” she told Hoffman, according to prosecutors.
“You know I can’t do that,” he allegedly replied.
According to the victim, Hoffman told her at one point that he “should have brought his gun in from the car so that he could shoot both of them,” police said.
Hoffman allegedly used the victim’s phone, pretending to be her, and sent messages to her children that she was not feeling well and not to visit her for a few days.
According to police, the woman later said she “truly believed [he] was going to kill her that night,” WDAF reported.
Hoffman eventually decided to order a Domino’s pizza – a move that would ultimately lead to the woman’s rescue.
“Help me,” she mouthed to Grundl from behind her captor. “Call police.”
Grundl said he left the home and immediately called 911.
"I had a delivery,” he explained. “It was a middle-aged couple. The woman clearly had a black eye. She pointed to it, and I swear she mouthed 'help me.'"
When officers arrived at the home, Hoffman attempted to prevent the victim from allowing them inside.
“Help me!” the woman yelled from behind the closed door, according to The Wichita Eagle. “Please come in!”
Hoffman ultimately surrendered and was arrested without further incident, WDAF reported.
He later told investigators that he punched his ex-girlfriend “in the heat of the moment” as they were fighting.
Hoffman also admitted that he had a .22 caliber weapon in the trunk of his car, police said.
Investigators discovered that Hoffman had written a suicide note while he had the woman tied up, and said he also made suicidal comments while speaking with officers, NBC News reported.
He was placed on suicide watch at the jail facility, where he was booked in on charges of false imprisonment, kidnapping, burglary of a building, strangulation and suffocation, and felony intimidation of a victim.
Grundl has not spoken with the woman he helped rescue, but said that her son has stopped by the Domino’s restaurant on multiple occasions to thank him for his heroic effort, Grundl said.
Although an officer later told him that he didn’t think the woman “would have made it through the night” if Grundl hadn’t placed that 911 call, Grundl said he just did what anyone else would have done in the same situation, WSMV reported.
“You saved a life,” a reporter told him during an interview with WSMV.
“I guess, yeah I guess,” Grundl said with a smile.