Had a call for a brother who killed his other brother with a hammer (the pick part) while the victim’s little daughter was watching. The daughter called us from another room and told us her daddy’s eye fell out.
Perp was apprehended, daughter taken by relative. Had to smoke after that one, and I don’t even smoke.
1979 NYC. Got a call from a crying child – a little boy – saying his mom and dad were fighting and his dad said he was going to throw the mom out of the window. I could hear a terrible fight going on in the background – woman screaming, things breaking, man yelling, etc. The poor kid didn’t know his address. We didn’t have the technology for call ID and would have to use reverse telephone books. A trace would take forever. Anyway while I’m trying to get the address I hear a horrific scream and glass breaking. A few seconds later the other operators in the room are getting calls about a woman lying in the courtyard who came out of a window. Very sad. Worst of all is that I am sure someone else in this apartment building must have heard this fight but no one called for help until it was too late. Poor kid. Working 911 in NYC during the 70s/80s was a nightmare. The City had a very high crime rate and shit technology.
The toughest ones for me involve kids. Any time a parent finds their child dead is especially tough. The single worst call I’ve ever taken though was a woman who was calling in that she was hearing weird noises in her house. While walking through her house she started screaming and told me there was someone in her house. There we a couple soft pops followed by a gargling sound. After the officers had cleared the house and found her, it finally came out during the investigation that her adult son had killed her while high and freaking out.
Gunshots don’t sound like you’d think on the phone, they’re rather soft. It’s an eerie sound, something so violent being so soft that if you aren’t paying attention you can miss it.
Another NYC – received an anonymous call that a Patrol Car (RMP) was parked in the middle of a street in Harlem with the doors open and no Police officer in sight. We used to get tons of prank calls but after a while your gut tells you when they’re real. They found the Officer several blocks away. He had been shot and then dragged by the perp’s car for several blocks. Terrible.
STORIES OF SENSELESS VIOLENCE
I had a woman call in who was hiding in her closet and told me her ex-boyfriend was breaking into her house. She told me that they had a violent history. I got her information and told her to do what she needed to do to stay safe and leave the line open no matter what. While officers were en route I heard him come in through a window and start beating her. He heard sirens coming and took off. Luckily, since she left the line open I was able to let the officers know when he took off and they caught him near the apartment.
I think the worst part was the two minutes after he left, I sat there listening to the woman weeping and not being able to comfort her because she was too far away to hear me.
The one that sticks with me the most was a man who was paralyzed from the waist down and had phoned up to tell us that he was mid-way through attempting to amputate his own legs at the thigh using nothing but a hack-saw and a Stanley knife.
He’d laid newspaper down on the floor and everything, in an attempt not to get blood on the carpet.
Naturally not long into the call he passed out due to blood loss… Grim stuff.
I had to stay on the phone with a young man for about 40 minutes, maybe a little more, who had a very disturbed man break into his home, and with a loaded shotgun pointed at his face the entire time, demand that he call the police (he wanted a suicide by cop). I now realize that I didn’t get overly detailed about it in my other mentionings of it, but this young man urinated himself, almost threw up, and was begging me to keep him alive…I haven’t dreamt about it in a long time (it was several years ago), but it stuck with me.
My mom was a 911 dispatcher in the early 90’s (I was 5 years old-ish) in Washington State. When I got older, I remember asking her about some of the calls that she could still recall. One in particular was pretty bad.
She was working one year on Halloween night and around 10 or 11pm she had a call come in that a couple guys were driving around town with a dummy or something dragging behind their truck. The dummy was falling apart and pieces of clothing/plastic were being torn off and scattered around the city. Being Halloween, it seemed like a prank but she had a patrol car try to find and stop the truck. As time goes by more and more people started to call in about it. Eventually the patrol car caught up with the truck and it turns out that it was a person. The guys had gone to a store earlier and when they left, they had backed their truck into an elderly man who’s clothes got caught in the rear bumper or whatnot. The two guys never even knew that they were dragging around another human being all across town, for miles. The elderly man had passed away and those pieces of clothing scattered around town, was his clothing, flesh, and body parts. Still gives me chills.
My father was a 911 operator in the early 80s and used to tell us about some of the crazy calls he received. The one that made him decide to quit and go back to school was when he received a call from a man who had just murdered his wife. My father told me that the most chilling part was the man’s calm demeanor. He complied with my father and gave him a name along with the address then shot himself in the head over the phone. My father says that the sound of the gun going off still gives him nightmares.
A daughter called on Christmas day last year reporting that her father had locked himself in the back shed after an argument with the mother and was trying to hang himself. Told her to bust down the door and cut him down with whatever she could find. She was probably about 15 years old and was yelling at her little sister to go back to the house and get some scissors or a knife to cut the noose as he was swinging from the neck. The thing that sticks with me the most about the call was that she was not panicking and was able to convey my instructions to her (obviously freaked out) family members around her to help save her dad. By the time her father was cut down and the noose loosened from his neck, the paramedics and police arrived on scene and the call was terminated. Shook me up a bit by the fact that a parent can attempt this in front of his family – let alone on Christmas day. I have found that children are the most calm and responsive to instructions whereas adults tend to freak out more and panic to the point of being next to useless in an emergency.
Christmas Eve I answered 911 for a hysterical lady who was crying so hard she couldn’t breathe. I asked her what was going on and she told me these exact words “my boyfriend and I…we were watching a movie.. I fell asleep. I woke up and he wasn’t here.”
I thought this was a little odd so I said, “okay ma’am, do you know where he may have went?” she wasn’t done. She said, “I found him.. in our closet, he hung himself.. with our bed sheets.” I walked her through cutting him down and starting CPR. when, in the middle of it he starts making this long raspy exhale that sounds exactly like something from a horror movie, it’s the rest of his air leaving his lungs.
She starts getting hysterical again begging him, “oh my god, he’s breathing, please breathe baby, please breathe..” But I knew that’s not what he was doing.
Police/fire/ambulance got there and of course the guy was way dead. I felt so bad for that woman. That’s really the only call that has ever stuck with me.
12. Heart attack
Two Christmases ago my uncle (who’s a police officer) was working during the day. He got to work when they got a call from an elderly woman who was having a heart attack and gave him the address. Turns out it was his own mother. He got there and tried CPR before the EMTs got there but there was nothing they could do.
13. Bleak calls
My father was a 911-call taker.
The worst calls he got were suicide calls where pretty much all he heard was someone immediately saying “hello, my name is John doe and I live at 123 abc Street and I’m going to kill myself…bang.”
GROSS AND DISTURBING STORIES
My sister got a call from a woman whose son was out in the yard playing football. He threw the ball over a fence and jumped over the fence to retrieve it. Everything went normal there, but when he landed in the neighbors yard, the guy was on his back porch balls deep in a pig. When the cops came, he said he does it because his wife is a crack whore and he doesn’t want to get AIDS.
I was a 911 call-taker/dispatcher in Portland, OR and received a call from a strung out girl. Story was she said her boyfriend had been doing meth for three days and owned a lab. She was screaming that he had wiggly, purple worms in his arms and there was blood everywhere. Turned out that they were his veins. He was literally out of his gourd on crystal meth, and tearing at his flesh and ripping out his veins! I did not want to live my life on their night shift taking calls like that so it wasn’t long before I switched professions.
I’m not a call taker. Not yet at least, my stress test is today, actually. But during my training I heard one that stuck with me. A boy, approximately 16, called because he was bleeding profusely. He was upset with his sexuality so he tried to cut his penis off with a scissors. He couldn’t cut completely through so he called 911. After a lot of talking and EMS was on the way he decided to try again. I heard the blades cut and heard him collapse to the floor. When EMS got there his penis was only connected by a thread of flesh.
Dead baby in a bucket. On a porch. Turned out the owners of the house were meth cooks without plumbing. They used a bucket for their toilet. The girlfriend was six months pregnant and had a miscarriage. They just left it on their porch for the neighbors to find. This call was so disturbing on so many levels.
I once got a call from a sobbing teenage boy. Turns out his twin brother slipped on some ice on stone stairs and hit his head pretty hard at the bottom. I had to stay on the phone with the kid and attempt to keep him calm while paramedics were on their way. His twin brother died a couple days later in the critical care unit.
This one hit me really hard because I have a twin brother myself. I took the next week off work to spend time with him.
I used to be a dispatcher. I had a guy call from a landline (so the address popped up) and say, “I got them both.” Wouldn’t answer my questions just kept repeating that. So I said alright we have someone on the way. Turned out he killed his mom and step dad. Nearly decapitated them both. He had serious mental problems. I think he was found not mentally able to stand trial and was put in a psychiatric facility.
The worst? I took a call from a mother that had just walked in on her 8-year-old daughter being raped by her boyfriend.
Luckily, we caught the guy despite him running about a mile away. I’ll never forget her voice though. :(
My sister and her husband are both dispatchers in SLC. Between the two of them (25 years in the business) I’ve heard a lot of stories. But the worst was when my sister took a call from a hysterical woman who’s husband had rolled over on their two month old baby sleeping in their bed and smothered him :(
I wasn’t the call taker, but I dispatched a call in which a young man was watching his mentally disturbed mother stab his grandmother to death. He was so traumatized, it was incredibly difficult for my partner to get any information from him, but she did a great job.
For me, it was a lady calling to say she was just raped and beaten, someone had broken in her house. Followed by, “oh my god; he’s back he’s back! Help!” Then the line goes dead. I send officers for an active home invasion, have EMS standing by. She was lying, her boyfriend had broke up with her for cheating on him, and she threatened to call police if he left. He did, and she followed thru. She got arrested.
Ok, so this is actually a story my brother told me when he was an EMT. An elderly woman called in a missing person’s report because she had not seen her husband in a couple of days. The police had helped her search all over town and searched neighbor’s homes, (It was a small town and she lived in the center of a row of town houses) but could not find her husband. A week later, another call came in from her neighbors stating that there were strange smells coming from the old woman’s house. That’s when my brother got the call. The elderly woman who had originally filed the missing person’s report had fainted from shock and bumped her head but was still alive. The police were searching the house and had traced the smell to the attic. When they opened the attic(pull string from the ceiling) the body of the woman’s husband fell out. He had been putting away some keepsakes and his wife had closed him in the attic on accident.
Before the story, I’ll start by saying that I was surprised that the movie “The Call” didn’t COMPLETELY bastardize our jobs. Much of it was actually pretty accurate to what a dispatcher/call taker deals with, except for when she goes all rogue and hunts the guy down herself. Anyway…
Mine wasn’t so much the phone call as much as it was the result. I can’t go into details at this time but it was basically a woman that asked for police, fire, everything we had. She needed help and feared for her life. No further information was given. Upon arrival she had a gun pointed at my officers. She was killed.
I once took a call from a kidnapping victim who jumped out of a moving car in an office park. She had no idea where she was and I couldn’t get a valid location on her cell phone (this was in 2004), only the nearest cell tower. Usually I would ask a caller in her situation to start looking in mailboxes for mail with an address on the envelope. But this was an office park with mail slots that she couldn’t access.
She was literally running for her life while I was on the phone with her, hiding behind dumpsters and bushes while the kidnappers patrolled the office park. The terror in her voice was gut wrenching. She had already been beaten, and she was afraid that if they found her they would kill her.
After about five minutes of this terrifying call, she was finally able to find a business sign on one of the windows in the complex. I frantically searched for the business address and the radio dispatcher aired the location to which at least a dozen officers responded. They found the suspect vehicle pretty quickly and a short foot chase ensued – K9 officer ended that in no time. The first officer to reach the caller ordered a victim’s advocate because of the condition she was in. I had to take a few minutes off after that call.
JOHN LENNON’S DEATH
I was also working the night John Lennon was killed. Call came in as a male shot ifo Dakota. When we learned from dispatch that it was John Lennon the whole floor (200+ people) just went silent. The Beatles were the first album I owned. For me, it was the end of something so ethereal I can’t even name it – possibly the ideal that we might be able to change the world for the better.