College Student Escapes Kidnapper by Using Her iPhone's 'Share My Location' Feature

Georgia college student Jaila Gladden, 21, is lucky to be alive — and she has her iPhone’s “Share My Location” feature to thank. She recently spoke about the incident that occurred in September in the hopes that other people can learn from her experience.

Late one night after shopping at a Kroger grocery store, she was walking to her car when she was approached by a stranger. The suspect, later determined to be Timothy Wilson, pressed a knife into her stomach and ordered her into her car as he got into the driver’s seat. You can see Wilson approach Gladden in the Kroger parking lot in the video below:

Wilson began to drive toward Atlanta, but stopped along the way and raped Gladden. “Following the rape, they got back on the road. The man said he was going drive to Michigan, and charged Gladden with finding a gas station for him to rob first,” according to the Daily Mail. Gladden convinced Wilson to let her use her cell phone so that she could find the nearest gas station and direct him to it.

She lowered the brightness of her screen and began to send rapid-fire short texts to her boyfriend, Tamir Bryant. She also shared her location with him. Bryant went directly to the police, who were able to keep tabs on the woman’s location as they sent cars out to help her.

During Wilson’s failed attempt at robbing the gas station, he took the phone back and forced Gladden into the trunk — never suspecting that she had reached out for help. He let her out again to have her find a grocery store to rob, and he again gave her the cell phone. She fired off some more quick texts, letting her boyfriend know that they were traveling in her car. She asked police not approach with sirens. “I don’t want him to kill me,” she wrote.

Bryant and the police tracked Gladden and Wilson’s location the entire time. When the kidnapper stopped in a parking lot, a police officer nearby recognized the car from a description on the scanner. Wilson tried to drive away when he noticed the cop approaching, but crashed into several cars. He finally got out and escaped on foot over a nearby fence.

Police were able to rescue Gladden from the car and they arrested the suspect 10 hours later. He has been charged with kidnapping, hijacking a motor vehicle, aggravated assault, rape, aggravated sodomy, false imprisonment, and aggravated assault against a police officer and is awaiting trial.

Gladden credits the iPhone “Share My Location” feature for saving her life.

If you want to enable the feature on your phone, Apple offers the following instructions:

  1. Go to your location sharing settings.
    • If you’re using iOS 11 or later, tap Settings > [your name] > Family Sharing.
    • If you’re using iOS 10.3, tap Settings > [your name] > iCloud.
    • If you’re using iOS 10.2 or earlier, go to Settings > iCloud.
  2. Tap Share My Location.
  3. If you want to choose a family member to share your location with, tap their name.

(Image via Apple)