US woman held hostage is saved after her failure to share her Wordle score alerted her family

Wordle's popularity has skyrocketed since the start of the year, with millions of people playing it daily. PHOTO: REUTERS

WASHINGTON (AFP) - A woman in the US city of Chicago was rescued from being held hostage for hours, after her failure to share her daily Wordle score alerted her family something was wrong.

Denyse Holt, 80, was alone at home on the night of Feb 5 when a man broke into her house and pointed a pair of scissors at her.

The man - identified as James H Davis III, aged 32 - was naked and covered with cuts and blood after he broke a window to gain entrance.

Police suspect Davis suffers from a mental illness.

Holt said Davis assured her he wouldn't harm her, but he did force her, fully clothed, to take a bath with him before locking her in the basement.

"I didn't think I was going to live," she told the local CBS station.

Holt's eldest daughter Meredith Holt-Caldwell, who lives in Seattle, first twigged that something was amiss when her mother did not send her daily Wordle score.

The game consists of guessing one five-letter word per day in just six tries. Its popularity has skyrocketed since the start of the year, with millions of people playing it daily.

Holt said her missing score was "disconcerting" to Holt-Caldwell, who knew her mother never missed this part of their daily routine.

Holt-Caldwell called the Chicago police, who conducted a wellbeing check on her mother on Feb 6, only to discover she was being held hostage in her own home.

An hours long standoff between police and Davis ensued. Swat officers eventually used a stun gun to incapacitate him and rescue Holt.

Police say Davis faces a range of charges including home invasion with a deadly weapon and aggravated kidnapping.

Holt was in shock after her rescue but otherwise unharmed.

"I never thought in a million years this is what was happening, but it was," she told CBS. "I'm very lucky."

The New York Times announced at the end of January it had bought Wordle for an "undisclosed price in the low seven figures."

Other versions of the game have sprung up around the globe, in languages ranging from German to Urdu.

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