How 911 Calls Can Yield Important Clues To Solve Crimes


A 911 call can make the difference between a closed case and a cold one, said Tracy Harpster, a Moraine, Oh., police lieutenant and co-author of a new study of emergency calls, reports the Orlando Sentinel. “It is vital. Sometimes, it’s the only statement a guilty person ever makes,” Harpster said. During an investigation into toddler Caylee Anthony’s 2008 death, detectives and amateur sleuths said mother Casey Anthony raised suspicions because she was calm when she told a dispatcher her daughter had been missing for 31 days. She is awaiting trial on a murder charge.

Calling someone a liar because he uses an odd tone of voice is risky. “Different people react and respond to tragedy or stressful situations in different ways,” said Tod Burke, a professor of criminal justice at Radford (Va.) University. In a paper published in the February issue of the academic journal Homicide Studies, Harpster and usan Adams and John Jarvis, both of the FBI, analyzed 100 emergency calls. They found detectives can use a checklist of 20 factors to tally whether a caller deserves more scrutiny.

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