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Melissa Kositzin guest blog

“I stabbed her with my rapier”

… “You stabbed her with your what?”

By Melissa Kositzin of Wandering Voiceless Blog

April 30, 2013

After nine years as a dispatcher, this is still my most memorable call.

It was a Tuesday evening in April, 2007. I had been a dispatcher for three years, and that night I was working as a call-taker.*

One of the things I love about my job is that I never know what is on the other end of the phone (or radio). I can be contentedly reading (“training”) or writing (more “training”), enjoying a cup of joe (or more recently a gallon of diet soda)… and then out of the blue, the phone will ring. Most of the time, even if it’s the 9-1-1 line, it’s pretty routine: a medical aid, a missing vehicle (more often towed than stolen), a missing child or elder. Once in a while though… you get one of these.

My first clue that this was a “real” emergency was the voice of the woman screaming “help me” from some distance away from the phone, accompanied by the noise of scuffling and a male’s voice screaming something unintelligible.

I immediately accepted a call for service at the address that had appeared on my CAD screen and called it a “415FAM” — the code for a disturbance between family members. To this day, I have no idea how I knew instantly it was a mother versus son. It certainly wasn’t clear from the first few seconds of the call. Even my notes in the call only say

FEMALE SCREAMING FOR HELP
JUST CALLING FOR HELP
CAN’T TELL IF 415 OR JUST HER

At that moment of making a decision to get a call in as quickly as I possibly could at the highest priority possible, on instinct alone I chose that call type. (Perhaps subconsciously I had mentally processed both the male and female voice, and the possible ages of those voices.)

Initially neither of them answered my questions. Both of them continued screaming, huffing and puffing with the background scuffling noise, and occasionally the woman would be able to get out the word “help.”

Listening to a recording of the call now (to refresh my memory for this post), I can hear the woman say, “I’ve been stabbed.” I did not hear that when I initially was taking the call. (That actually happens quite frequently, where we can only hear part of what is being said until we play it back for training or to make a copy for the district attorney.) I heard her say something, and I responded with “I’m sorry, you’ve fallen?” (Because that would explain the scuffling and screaming, right? Good grief!)

She just kept saying “help” from time to time, while the male continued speaking unintelligibly. After about a minute there was some silence, and then what I finally heard at the time of the call was the male saying, after calmly confirming the address, “I’ve killed my mother.”

Honestly, I said “You did what to your mother?” (Yes, I’m a little slow sometimes. Don’t tell my kids.) He repeated, “I killed her.” I then calmly asked him his name, to which he only repeated the address.

I told him I had officers on the way, and asked, “How did you kill her?” He responded, “I stabbed her with my (unintelligible to me at the time), now, she’s dying, please send (what sounded like suicide pills).” So naturally, I asked “She took suicide pills?” (Let me be clear, this is not me at my call-taking best.)

After a bit more back and forth in which I’m trying to make sense of what he’s saying to me, he says slowly and carefully, “Shit, I killed her with my rapier.” Since I’m still not catching that word rapier, I ask him again, “Okay, how did you kill her; what happened exactly?” He answered with, “I don’t want to talk about it. Bring some pain medication for her so she dies more peacefully.”

There is yet more back and forth (where did you hurt her, what did you do, what are her injuries, etc.) as I try to get out of him what he did to her, because I just wasn’t understanding what he was saying. (So much for my instincts!) He finally gives up on me, and says, “Listen lady, good-bye. I’m done.” However, he leaves me with an open line instead of hanging up.

At this point, I have typed into the call

MALE SAYING HE KILLED HIS MOTHER
MALE HAS DISCONNECTED
NO, JUST AN OPEN LINE
MALE REFUSING FURTHER
FEMALE STILL MOANING
AND CAN HEAR MALE TALKING

Throughout the rest of the call on the open line I can hear him speaking to his mother, but I can’t tell what he’s saying. I can still hear her faintly moaning. I listen in as the officers arrive and get him detained. When they are “code 4″ (the scene is secure), I release the line.

As I replayed the call in my mind over and over that evening, I was sure I must have asked him the same question in the same way about five times. It’s called “stuck in a loop.” Listening to the call again for this post, I didn’t really ever repeat the same question exactly; I did rephrase it, he just kept saying the same thing. Unfortunately, I just wasn’t hearing that word “rapier.” Perhaps, if I had heard her when she said, “I’ve been stabbed,” I would have put two and two together and been able to type into the call the weapon that had been used so officers would be prepared when they got on scene. As it was, they went into the house “cold” — without any clue what they would find.

I still didn’t know what had happened until a couple of hours later when one of the detectives came upstairs to tell us that the male subject had stabbed his mother 17 times with a rapier (a long sword) in a schizophrenic frenzy. When he was done, he felt no remorse, but wanted her to die peacefully, hence his request for “suicide pills.”

Collection of early modern swords (17th to 18th centuries) at the George F. Harding Collection of Arms and Armor, the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo credit Wikipedia.

Collection of early modern swords (17th to 18th centuries) at the George F. Harding Collection of Arms and Armor, the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo credit Wikipedia.

 

Collection of early modern swords (17th to 18th centuries) at the George F. Harding Collection of Arms and Armor, the Art Institute of Chicago. Photo credit Wikipedia.

Although it wasn’t my best interrogation, I had managed to keep him on the line and inside the house until officers arrived. For that, I am grateful.

The mother died shortly after she was transported to the hospital. I heard her last words on that call. I wish I had been able to comfort her more than I was able. I am more conscious now of using a more sympathetic voice with victims, and a more forceful voice when necessary with suspects.

The male was committed to a local mental institution. As far as I know, he’s still there. For that, I am also grateful.

********

 

 

*Allow me a moment to share some general background information: In our agency, we rotate through three positions: radio {dispatcher}, phones {taking calls} and CLETS {records checks and overflow phones}. CLETS stands for California Law Enforcement Telecommunications System. It is the electronic system through which we can check every available database managed by the California Department of Justice. We also access “NCIC” through this system which is a term heard on many television shows. It is the nationwide equivalent of CLETS. Through these systems we can tell if a person is wanted (has a warrant for their arrest), if a car has been stolen, etc. None of this CLETS info has anything to do with this story, but one thing led to another so there you are. At least you got it as a footnote, and not in the body of the story. :>

 

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One comment on “Melissa Kositzin guest blog

  1. Wandering Voiceless
    May 6, 2013

    Thanks for sharing! :>

    Like

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This entry was posted on May 5, 2013 by in Writer's Notes and tagged , , , , , , .

Cop Talk

For all things about cop culture-the work, the family, the days off.

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