The 911 system is a valuable asset to the community and to emergency services, allowing for quick response from police, fire and medical personnel and has undoubtedly saved many lives. The 911 calls themselves can also be a valuable source of insight and information for investigators involved in these investigations. Below is a link to an audio of a 911 call from a father reporting that he believe his 6-year-old daughter was abducted from his house. Below that is a transcript of the call and some of the insights investigators of such cases may gain by taking a critical look at the words used. As an investigator, I would have the father provide a written statement and ask him to write down everything that happened regarding this incident, or another option is to obtain a statement from the time they arrived home from his son's baseball game until he called 911. These types of open questions allow the individual to provide everything they feel is important which really helps investigators gain insight and information into the individual. The information provided in the statement as well as the information in the 911 call from him would be then used to probe his story, develop the information further and make an accurate assessment of his credibility.
To hear the call, click HERE:
Operator: 911, what’s your emergency?
Caller: Uhh, I want to report a missing person, my little girl who’s 6 years old, I believe she was abducted from our house.
[This initial account lacks commitment and urgency. He said “I want to report a missing person” which shows distance (a missing person) and making a “report” is procedural, not urgent like “Send help! My daughter is missing!” Also, his use of abducted is interesting, rather than simply saying “missing” or “taken from”, etc. and also his use of “I believe” lacks commitment to that statement]
Operator: What’s the address?... Ok stay on the line for Tucson Police.
Caller: I will.
Tucson Operator: Tucson Police Department
Caller: Hello, I need to report a, a missing child, I believe she was abducted from my house.
[He was transferred to the police department 911 system. His initial response to this operator is a casual greeting “Hello” which is odd and lacks urgency. He then said “I need to report a,a missing child” which again shows distance (a missing child) but he also changes his language from “person” to “child” for some unknown reason. He also uses “report” again which is procedural, not urgent like “Send help! My daughter is missing!” Also, he again used abducted which is interesting, rather than simply saying “missing” or “taken from”, etc. and also his use of “I believe” lacks commitment to that statement, and he also changed from “our house” to “my house” for some reason]
Tucson Operator: Ok, how old?
Caller: 6 years old
Tucson Operator: Ok, is it your daughter?
[His lack of commitment and distancing from his own daughter apparently prompted her to try and clarify that information]
Tucson Operator: Why do you think she was abducted?
Caller: I have no idea, we woke up this morning, I went to go get her up for her baseball game and she’s gone, I woke up my, my sons, I, we looked everywhere in the house and my oldest son noticed that her window was wide open and the screen was laying in the back yard. We’ve look all around the house, my sons are…
[At this point he was asked “Why do you think she was abducted” and his initial response was, “I have no idea” which seems to address the motivational aspect of why someone took her, rather than say why he believes that she was taken. He also said “we woke up” but does not say who he is referring to which should be checked. Was it he and his wife? It does not seem so because according to him she went to work already. He stated he woke his sons up after he went to his daughter’s room, so the “we” does not include them. The use of “we” without identifying who it includes is a problem and may indicate deception, intentionally suppressing information or a bad relationship. He then changed from past to present tense “I went to get her up for her baseball game and she’s gone” and also had a change of pronouns, “I, we looked everywhere” which are frequently associated with deception ]
Tucson Operator: (interrupted caller) Ok, hang on.
Caller: Yeah, my sons are running around the house looking for her.
Tucson Operator: The screen was on the ground outside?
Tucson Operator: What’s your address?
Caller (withheld from public)
Tucson Operator: What’s your name sir?
Caller: My name is Sergio, S-E-R-G-I-O, middle initial D, last name is C-E-L-I-S.
Tucson Operator: I-S as in sam?
Tucson Operator: Ok, what’s her name?
Caller: Isabel, I-S-B-E-L, er, I-S-A-B-E-L , M as in man is the middle initial
Tucson Operator: Ok, same last name?
Tucson Operator: Ok, what’s her actual birth date?
Caller: (withheld from public)
Tucson Operator: Ok, is mom there also?
Caller: Uh, she had just left for work I just called her and I told her to get her butt home. Ha ha ha.
[Laughter at this point is certainly inappropriate and should be cause for concern]
Tucson Operator: Ok, mother… (talking to self while typing)
Caller: And she was…
Tucson Operator: What kind of vehicle is she going to be in route back in?
Caller: (withheld from public) she’s coming from T&C, so she should just be coming straight down
Tucson Operator: Ok, how tall is she?
Caller: She is 5’2
Tucson Operator: No, the, I’m sorry, your daughter
Caller: Oh, my daughter, uhhhmm, 40 inches, 30, yeah, 36 to 40 inches
[He may be confused because the operator was talking about his wife, but it is reasonable to assume she meant his daughter]
Tucson Caller: Ok, is she black, white or Hispanic?
Caller: She’s, uh, fair-skinned Hispanic, with, uh, clear eyes and light brown hair
Tucson Operator: And what do you mean by clear eyes? Like…
Caller: Uh, well there a little bit green..
Tucson Operator: Are they hazel?
Caller: Green, hazel, sure
Tucson Operator: Hazel, ok, you said she’s about 40 inches tall, do you know how much she weighs?
Caller: Uh, probably I believe she was 30, er, she’s about 40 pounds, she’s probably right about 40 pounds
Tucson Operator: Right about 40 pounds, ok, do you remember what she was wearing last night when you last saw her?
Caller: Uh, before she went to bed I believe she was wearing little navy blue shorts and, and a pink, ah, a pink like little, uh, tank top type for a shirt
[Here he responds specifically, “before she went to bed I believe she was wearing little navy blue shorts, and a pink, ah, a pink little, uh, tank top type for a shirt.” He was not asked what she was wearing before she went to bed, so by responding specifically to the question of “when you last saw her” with “before she went to bed”, this leaves open the possibility that may not be the last time he saw her, and that she may have worn something different to bed.]
Tucson Operator: Pink tank top, ok, navy blue shorts. Has she ever tried to sneak out of a window or anything?
Caller: Oh no.
Tucson Operator: Have you guys been having any weird phone calls, anything like that, somebody hanging around?
Caller: No. We got home late from, uh, my son’s baseball game, you know about 10:30 last night, everyone took their showers and they all went to bed, I even was in the living room watching the Diamondbacks game at midnight (snickered), and I fell asleep, and I never heard anything weird, so I was like just on the other side of the wall from her.
[He stated, “I even was in the living room watching the Diamondbacks game at midnight” and he snickered making this comment which is odd. He then stated “I fell asleep, and I never heard anything weird, so I was just on the other side of the wall from her.” This seems like a sensitive point in that he stating what he “didn’t hear”, and what would he constitute as “weird?” He also states why something happened rather than just state what happened, more signs of sensitivity.]
Tucson Operator: How many siblings does she have?
Tucson Operator: Ok, and those are brothers you said?
Tucson Operator: How old are they?
Caller: 14 and 10
Tucson Operator: And you said they’re out looking? Or they were looking all over the house?
Caller: No they just, they just went right now, my oldest son, the 14 year old, he went running around just to make sure, um, but she’s nowhere to be seen.
[He initially stated that he and his sons already looked for her (above “I, we looked everywhere” which indicated deception, and here he stated they “just went right now”]
Tucson Operator: Outside or inside?
Caller: He’s outside our property walking
Tucson Operator: Ok, where’s the 10 year old?
Caller: He’s in the garage, he’s just out in the garage just waiting for my wife
Tucson Operator: Ok, what’s mom’s name?
Tucson Operator: Ok, and what’s your birth date sir?
Caller: (withheld from public)
Tucson Operator: Ok, and what’s moms?
Caller: (withheld from public)
Tucson Operator: Ok, and you’re both natural parents of the child?
Tucson Operator: Ok, so no step-parents, any problems with any grandparents?
Tucson Operator: Ok, so you’re not having any family issues anything like that?
Tucson Operator: Ok, and you haven’t noticed anybody hanging out in front of your house?
Tucson Operator: Ok, your son that’s 14, what his name? (background noise/voices)
Caller: Uh, I’m sorry, my wife just walked in, and she speaking to somebody, I don’t know, she’s speaking to the police also, she might have been calling on her way, you asked me about my son, what did you ask me?
Tucson Operator: Yeah, the 14 year old that’s out looking for her?
Caller: Yes…what about him?
Tucson Operator: Um, well, hang on a second...ok, actually, I think one of your son’s is trying to call. Um, I’m sorry, what was your 14 year olds name?
Tucson Operator: Sergio, ok.
Caller: My wife just got home and she’s kind of hysterical and freaking out
Tucson Operator: Alright, ok, tell her we are on our way, we’ve got a bunch of officers on the way, I want you guys to stay there in the house.
Caller: We will
Tucson Operator: Ok
Caller: Bye, bye