The text message that came across Margo Roby’s cell phone on Tuesday morning was nothing short of chilling.
"Mommy omg im scard i think were being robbed im hiding help me!" read the digital SOS.
The messenger, 13-year-old Lauren Durnbaugh, was texting her mother from under the covers of her bed while two intruders ransacked the family’s home in Canal Winchester, Ohio.
Roby rushed home and confronted the intruders, but most of the credit for this story with a happy ending went to the quick-thinking teen who thought to use text-messaging technology to summon help, and had the ingenuity to hide in her bed instead of somewhere else.
“When I was walking in my room to find somewhere to hide, I figured if they were coming to rob us, you wouldn’t just look in someone’s bed for something,” Durnbaugh told TODAY co-host Meredith Vieira on Thursday. “You would be going in their closet and looking everywhere else.”
Vieira inquired whether Durnbaugh watched many detective shows. The young girl confirmed she watched “ ‘CSI’ and stuff.”
Scene of the crime
Roby had some advance notice of what her daughter was experiencing when Durnbaugh called to ask if her mother was a expecting a man and woman who drove up in a red car outside of their house. The answer was no.
Durnbaugh, who was home sick from school, heard a knock as she went into the kitchen, but as the uninvited visitors entered through an unlocked door she retreated to her bed unnoticed and curled into the fetal position under her blankets.
That was when the frightened girl messaged her mother for help.
“I was absolutely horrified,” Roby told Vieira. “That’s the worst thing that can happen to a parent, is to actually get a message like that. It was horrible.”
Roby ran from her desk at Ricart Automotive in Groveport, Ohio — almost forgetting to take her purse and two cellular phones. As she raced to her home in her GMC Envoy, Roby told a 911 operator: “My daughter’s home from school and she said there’s thieves in the house and she’s hiding in the closet and she thinks we’re being robbed … They’re in our house right now.”
Roby also called her nervous daughter, but kept losing the call because Durnbaugh feared the intruders would hear something.
“I was panicking because I’m on the phone and all at once it went dead,” Roby said. “I thought maybe they had her. I had no clue what was going on.”
Durnbaugh said that the strangers were actually in her room at one point, sitting on the bed next to her.
“They were talking about what they were going to take and just saying what they were going to do,” she said.
Durnbaugh said she stayed calm, heeding the fast orders left in one quick call from her mother.
“She was very smart,” Roby said. “She definitely used her head the whole time.”
Roby used the head of her car to ram the red Tiburon sitting in her driveway, its engine running and its doors open.
She wrestled with the strange woman who came out of her house as police arrived.
Purses, jewelry and Lauren's laptop were already taken out of the house. Jenna Marie Burns, 20, of Orient, Ohio, and Jeremiah Lee Fyffe, 26, of Lockbourne were arrested and charged with burglary.
Teen scared, but doing fine
Roby found her daughter in the house “shaking like a leaf.”
Now Durnbaugh is on her way back to normal sleeping, after spending the next night in her mother’s bed.
“It’s a little bit [nerve-racking],” she told Vieira. “But I’m fine now. I know that it’s not going to happen every day.”