It was September 5, 2017, and Jaila Gladden was putting groceries into her car when she first felt the knife press into her stomach.
It was the beginning of what the University of West Georgia student described to Buzzfeed News as a terrifying odyssey from Carrollton, Ga., where she was allegedly raped, stuffed in the trunk of her own car, and wondered if she was going to be killed, to Atlanta, where she was ultimately rescued by police.
What saved her? Her iPhone's location feature.
Gladden told her story in a detailed interview with the site, which also acquired police reports, text messages and court documents related to her case.
It was shortly before midnight when Gladden left to purchase some groceries from a local Kroger. As she walked back to her car, a man allegedly asked her for a lighter, and she said she didn't have one, Buzzfeed News reported. As she arrived at her car, she felt the cold metal of the knife blade against her abdomen, and was ordered into her car by the same man.
A surveillance video, viewable at the top of this story, shows the moment it happens.
The man then allegedly told her to drive to Atlanta, where Gladden said he told her he intended to rob a store and continue on to Michigan, according to Buzzfeed News.
He pulled over behind an abandoned church and raped her in the car before continuing on, according to police and news reports.
He allegedly wanted her to guide him toward a gas station to rob, Gladden told Buzzfeed News, but she told him she couldn't do that unless he gave her back her iPhone so she could navigate to one.
That's when she frantically pinged her location to her boyfriend, according to a report from the Carrollton Police Department.
"Why are you there?" he asked.
"Kid napped," was her response. "Knife. Scared."
"Stop playing," he responded. He said he was going to the police.
"Don't let me die," she sent.
According to a police narrative from the Carrollton Police Department, the boyfriend was stopped by an officer when he entered the police department parking lot. He told the officer what had happened, and texted frantically with Gladden to find out as much information as possible.
Police later discovered that a call of a suspicious incident in a Kroger parking lot had been about the same thing, according to the report. They kept updating officers in Atlanta about the vehicle's possible location.
"We've got help coming," her boyfriend sent her.
Meanwhile, on the road, the man then allegedly told Gladden to get in the trunk while he attempted to rob a gas station and grocery store. He wasn't successful at either robbery, Gladden told Buzzfeed News.
Officer T. Joseph of the Atlanta Police Department arrived at the last-known location of the vehicle, near a parking lot on Monroe Drive NE.
He began canvassing the parking lot and eventually spotted the car, with its engine running and lights off, sitting at the top of a driveway. The man in the car spotted him, and "immediately" turned the car's lights on and nearly hit him and went on to crash into several other cars, according to a police report.
The officer went to head him off, and the man rammed a patrol car, the officer wrote. Police drew their weapons and ordered him out of the car, but he kept backing up out of the parking lot before crashing the vehicle, leaving the car and running away from the scene, according to the report.
Gladden ran to the officers and told them the man had jumped a fence and took off, according to the report. He was caught several hours later.
Police arrested Timothy Wilson in Atlanta and charged him with kidnapping, hijacking a motor vehicle, aggravated assault, rape, aggravated sodomy, false imprisonment and aggravated assault against a police officer spread between Carrollton and Fulton Counties, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
“We offer our support now and in the days, weeks and months ahead. Our counseling and student services staff are available for any UWG student who needs assistance as this case unfolds," the University of West Georgia police chief said in a statement about the case, reported 11Alive.
Her boyfriend Bryant said her phone's ability to send a location may have saved her life - and police agreed. “If I didn’t get the location, who knows what would have happened,” Bryant told Buzzfeed. “Her doing it on her own — she was able to outsmart the bad guy.”
“The police were able to find her because she was able to send her family messages via her iPhone and she was able to get that information to our 911 center,” Capt. Brian Schiffbauer told WSB-TV.