SOS message credited with saving woman from abusive situation

Published 10:45 am Thursday, July 11, 2019

By Shavonne Walker

SALISBURY — Police officials credit an emergency feature available on most cellphones with saving a local woman from an abusive situation.

The woman sent an SOS message to her mother, who informed the police of her location. The suspect, who is believed to be either the woman’s husband or boyfriend, was charged with assault.

The Salisbury Police Department on Thursday charged Joshua Paul Long, 31, with misdemeanor assault on a female. He remains in the Rowan County Detention Center under no bond because of the domestic assault charge.

Police Lt. Greg Beam said the victim’s mother called police to say she received an SOS message from her daughter. The daughter was in the 1200 block of Beachnut Lane, and police responded to the home. Police used a public address system to call out to Long, who didn’t immediately respond.

An officer got Long’s cellphone number and persuaded him to come out of the house.

The woman was treated at the scene by a Rowan County emergency medical crew that was on standby. The woman had serious injuries and was taken to the hospital.

Beam said the couple had argued after a trip to Twin Peaks sports bar in Concord. The woman wanted to see Long’s Snapchat account, but he refused to show her on the social media app. The woman told police Long beat her while he drove on Interstate 85 and she tried unsuccessfully to jump out the window of the moving car.

Officials said when the two arrived home, the woman ran to a neighbor’s house but got no response. Long dragged the woman into the house and beat her with a broom handle, according to police.

Long was convicted on a charge of misdemeanor false imprisonment in 2013.

Beam said most cellphones have the SOS feature, which can be found under settings.

“This can be used for anything — if you fall and get hurt and need help, if you’re being abducted or being assaulted and don’t want anyone to know that you’re secretly sending an SOS message. It’s a quick and easy way to send a request for help without alerting anyone that you’ve sent a message,” Beam said.

The phone user can set up emergency contacts. In most cases, the system will allow photos, a GPS location or an audio recording. Officials said in some cases, 911 can be used as the emergency contact.

“In this case ,it was extremely valuable,” Beam said. “The victim was able to send an SOS message to her mother, and the mother was able to contact 911 and alert police to the situation. Police were able to respond and resolve the situation. Without the use of the SOS button, it could’ve been a lot worse.”