Friday, March 6, 2009

Intruder wandered around house as 911 calls were unanswered

An elderly woman in Parker County, Texas repeatedly called 911 and got no answer while an intruder roamed around her home.

Last month, Laverne Hokett awoke to the sound of a man breaking down her back door. "It's a thousand wonders I haven't had a heart attack," she said. "I was so afraid."

After dialing 911 several times with no answer as she cowered in her bedroom, Hokett called her daughter, Deborah Turpin, who lives nearby and then tried 911 again. By this time the man inside her home was screaming.

As Turpin and her husband headed to her mother's home, Hokett sat alone in her dark room and decided to call her neighbor. "He couldn't find the bullets to the gun," she said of her neighbor.

Turpin and her husband eventually made it to Hokett's home and managed to corner the intruder at gunpoint. They then tried to call 911 again, and then again.

"I'm very frustrated," Turpin said. "I'm very angry." As the situation hurtled towards a crisis point, the phone rang.

"This is Parker County 911," a dispatcher said. "Your phone is dialing 911, is there an emergency?"

"Someone's broken into my mother's home," Turpin replied. "I'm sitting here with a gun on him and if he doesn't behave I'm going to kill him ... We've both got guns on him. He's sitting here crying and bawling."

Deputies arrived 13 minutes later and arrested the intruder.

Captain Mike Morgan, a spokesman for the Parker County Sheriff's Office, said he understands the family's frustration, but records showed 911 dispatchers did answer the calls. However, by the time they answered, the callers had already hung up. Morgan said cellphone calls can take up to 30 seconds to actually connect in the dispatch center.

Hokett said she hopes she never needs 911 again. But just in case, she said her daughter bought her a shotgun that she keeps near her bed as she sleeps. (info from WFAA TV)

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