On August 24, 2018, a mystery woman made national headlines when the Montgomery County Sheriff's Office released footage of the her walking from house to house after 3 AM, ringing doorbells.
Police weren't looking for the woman because she was a ding-dong-ditcher, however: from her attire, the way she glanced behind her nervously, and what appeared to be wrist restraints dangling from her arms, they suspected something far more insidious.
Now, nearly a month later, the woman, who was saved from an abusive relationship by police, is speaking out about what drove her to ring strangers' doorbells wearing nothing but a t-shirt on that fateful night.
The woman, who wishes to be identified only as Lauren, said she awoke late that night to find her boyfriend stuffing cloth into her mouth and "duct taping her entire head:"
I truly felt like when that was happening, like, I was going to die there that night.
I'm SO glad the woman from the mystery doorbell girl story from Texas last month is speaking out about how she surv… https://t.co/Pu9chez70o— Naptime Nancy Drew (@Naptime Nancy Drew)1537218773.0
Lauren's boyfriend, 49-year-old Dennis Collins, sexually abused her before allowing Lauren to go get a glass of water from the kitchen. While he returned to the bedroom momentarily, Lauren escaped through the front door into their darkened neighborhood.
Once there, she desperately began searching for help, explaining the doorbell-ringing videos.
@LeighEgan @crimeonlinenews I hope this story helps some people to understand that stories such as these need to be… https://t.co/bmXtP4P1KC— Naptime Nancy Drew (@Naptime Nancy Drew)1537230447.0
The police found Lauren in the Dallas/Fort Worth area after searching for several days. Dennis Collins was also revealed to have shot himself on August 29.
The Sheriff's Office revealed he left behind a suicide note:
Before doing so he left several notes connecting him to the female who appeared to be wearing restraints. The male indicated that he did this in response to the national attention given to the situation among a few other things not yet disclosed.
People were very happy to see that she was safe:
@ABC This scared the crap out me. I felt so sick wondering if she was ok. Thank goodness at least she’s safe.— GoBluWave 🌊🤔👵🏻🇺🇸🌻 (@GoBluWave 🌊🤔👵🏻🇺🇸🌻)1535975516.0
Lauren believes that the doorbell video and its spread on the internet may have been what saved her life:
I worry that if this video hadn't come out, and if he were not gone, that I eventually would be.
Remember that if you ever find yourself in a situation where you need support like Lauren did, there are always people ready to help.
Here at the National Domestic Violence Hotline, we are closely monitoring this story https://t.co/V95xzRM7m1 If you… https://t.co/kxRKdM5jNs— National Domestic Violence Hotline (@National Domestic Violence Hotline)1536887185.0