COOK COUNTY CRIMINAL COURTHOUSE — Fearing for her life and the lives of her two children during a restaurant robbery, a suburban mother said she sent a secret, desperate text to her husband who had briefly left the cafe:
"Don't come back. Call police."
Moments later, the man trying to rob the Lakeview cafe on North Clark Street Sunday evening ordered the woman and her two children — including a 10-year-old — into the bathroom, authorities said.
The man who allegedly hit Cassava, 3338 N. Clark, even threatened he would shoot the family if they called police, the mother told DNAinfo.com Chicago on Monday from her suburban home.
"We thought we were going to die," said the mother, who asked that her name not be used.
But her husband called 911, and police nabbed the alleged robber when he tried to escape out of the back of the cafe.
William Castle, a 43-year-old convict from Tennessee, appeared in Cook County Bond Court Monday on charges of aggravated robbery, unlawful restraint, kidnapping and attempted robbery.
Castle might still be on the loose if Cassava had been able to offer the kidnapped woman's husband some decaf.
"That place didn't have any decaf coffee," said the woman.
Officials at Cassava didn't not immediately respond to a request for comment Monday.
The family had 45 minutes to kill before their reservation at another restaurant nearby when they ducked into Cassava. Her husband then went to find a cup of decaf somewhere else while she stayed with the children at Cassava, which wasn't very crowded.
"All of a sudden, this weirdo in a hoody comes in. When he said to the waitress 'Don't move,' I thought, 'This is for real.' And we texted my husband," she said.
The woman described the robbery as unreal, "like looking at 'Law & Order' on TV." She said her family is recovering, but one of her kids, who was "shaking like JELLO" during the holdup, is still frightened.
Cook County Assistant State's Attorney Jamie Dickler said in court Monday that Castle burst into the cafe and grabbed a waitress by the collar at 6 p.m. Sunday.
Saying he had a gun, Castle demanded the waitress open the cash register, Dickler said. However, no gun was recovered.
Castle ordered multiple people in the cafe, including the mother and her two children, into a bathroom in the back, officials said. There he allegedly took a cell phones from one victim and an iPhone Touch from another.
"He [told one of the victims] he would shoot them if they called police ... he threatened to choke [another] victim," Dickler said.
Castle served time in a Tennessee prison for aggravated robbery, kidnapping and sexual battery.
Cook County Judge Adam Bourgeois, Jr. ordered Castle held in lieu of $1 million bond. His next court date is Jan. 28.