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911 tape: Slaying response was slow
Atlanta Journal Constitution ^ | 1/21/04 | Don Plummer

Posted on 01/21/2004 7:31:22 AM PST by Space Wrangler

CALHOUN -- Melissa Peeler believed her ex-boyfriend when he called and told her he had killed her parents, a half sister and their infant daughter.

But it took Peeler nearly eight hours on Jan. 7 to persuade Gordon County sheriff's officials to enter her parents' home and look for bodies, recordings of her conversations with authorities show.

On Tuesday, Gordon County Sheriff Jerry Davis said he could not explain why.

Sheriff's deputies found the first of four victims of the killing spree about 11:30 p.m. on Jan. 7 and confirmed Jerry William Jones' boasts that he had fled with Peeler's other daughters, ages 3, 4, and 10. The delay in discovering the crimes gave Jones at least an eight-hour head start in his flight.

He was captured 28 hours after Peeler's first call by state troopers just over the Tennessee border after a nationwide manhunt that ended with the fugitive wrecking his car and shooting himself in the face. Jones is still hospitalized, facing four murder charges. The three young girls with him apparently were unharmed.

Gordon County deputies went to the Pack Road home of Peeler's parents in Ranger a second time only after she persisted and enlisted the help of Jones' sister and 911 emergency operators in another county.

During at least four pleading phone calls with Gordon County 911 operators, Peeler, who was calling from Oregon, was told that deputies had visited the property and found nothing wrong, was refused the opportunity to file kidnap charges and ultimately told to file a report when she returned from her trip to the Pacific Northwest.

Only when she spoke with the 911 supervisor about 10:30 p.m. did she make a breakthrough, according to the Gordon County 911 tapes obtained Tuesday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

The information on the tapes substantially conflicts with the way Gordon County Sheriff Jerry Davis initially characterized Peeler's contacts with authorities on the day of the killings.

Davis said the day after the killings were discovered that Peeler's first call had come in about 3 p.m. on Jan. 7, asking deputies to check on the welfare of her parents because she had been unable to reach them by telephone. He said Peeler had not told authorities of the killings until the 10:30 p.m. phone call.

A significantly different picture emerges when recordings of Peeler's 911 calls to Gordon and Floyd counties are reviewed.

Although the Gordon County 911 recordings have no time stamps, some times can be pieced together by comparing those calls with Peeler's calls to the Floyd County emergency center.

Peeler first called 911 in Gordon County shortly after 3 p.m. and reported Jones had called her from a Piggly Wiggly in Rome, boasted of the killings and said he had her other girls with him.

According to the recordings, a 911 operator dispatched two deputies and an ambulance at 3:20 p.m. to her parents' home. The deputies reported at 3:48 that they were unable to "see anyone inside" one of two mobile homes on the property. Nothing on the tapes indicates whether deputies checked the second home on the property.

Davis said Tuesday he was not sure why deputies didn't enter the homes when they were out there the first time. "I don't know. I can't answer that right now," he said.

The sheriff also said he could not say what Peeler told the Gordon County dispatcher when she called the first time because he had not reviewed the recording of her calls.

Davis said other things must have been going on in the 911 center that distracted the supervisor during the time Peeler, and later Floyd County authorities, were pressing for help.

"The captain on the next shift came on at 4 and he was covered up with other calls, but when he was put directly in touch with [Peeler] about 10:30 [p.m.], he could tell by her tone that something was wrong," the sheriff said Tuesday.

Before Peeler knew the result of the deputies' first visit to the murder scene, she called 911 in Floyd County to ask for help, telling the dispatcher what she had told the Gordon County authorities.

Floyd County officials contacted authorities in Gordon County and called one of Jones' sisters, Tammy Wilson, who told them of Jones' violent past.

In a conversation with Wilson, a clearly frustrated Floyd County 911 operator promises to take another shot at motivating Gordon County authorities.

"I'm going to call Gordon County, try to speak to a supervisor, see if they'll do a little bit more in-depth for the residents, see if they won't, you know, deem it a little more important," Rene Baldwin, a 911 supervisor, says on the Floyd County tape.

But the entreaties seemed to make little difference in Gordon County, and Peeler was back on the telephone from Oregon.

This time, she asked Gordon County authorities whether she could file a kidnapping report because Jones did not have custody of the three children he had taken, although he had fathered the younger two. She was told she couldn't.

In the next call, she asked whether a friend in Gordon County could file the report for her. She was told that wouldn't be acceptable.

Finally, Peeler, sounding worn down, asked what she could do.

There is a pause on the tape while the 911 operator speaks to someone else. Then the operator returns to the phone with an answer: "The officer said as soon as you get back to give him a call or go to the Sheriff's Office in Calhoun and file a report."

Finally, about 10:30 p.m., Peeler's persistence paid off and she talked with the shift supervisor, who sent out deputies who eventually found the bodies of Peeler's parents, Tommy and Nola Blaylock; her half sister, Georgia Bradley; and Peeler and Jones' 10-month-old daughter, Jerri.

TOPICS: Crime/Corruption; Extended News; News/Current Events; US: Georgia; US: Tennessee
KEYWORDS: 911; 911transcripts; dial911anddie; firstresponders; nyc; slowresponse
I'm so glad the police are there to protect me. Why would I EVER need a gun??
1 posted on 01/21/2004 7:31:23 AM PST by Space Wrangler
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To: Space Wrangler
I believe someone should lose a position over this...If I lived in that town, I'd DEMAND that somebody step down...real quick. Public safety is in danger with cops like that.
2 posted on 01/21/2004 7:45:42 AM PST by Dallas59
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To: Space Wrangler
I was a member of an online support group for parents of disabled children. Someone with a Yahoo or Hotmail email (I forget which, but it was free at the time) joined and immediately started asking us for information on how to put his cerebral-palsy afflicted daughter out of her "misery." Well, that started a serious riot in the one online group I've ever seen that hardly ever had a flamewar. Many of the members of the group have profoundly disabled children, and it was a hotbutton for everyone--that makes sense, since so many of them started out being given the option to let a seriously disabled baby die, and they chose life. "Quality of life" is something people like this work for and value, but will not kill for.

Of course the admin banned the guy after very few posts. The upset he caused lasted quite awhile.

Some of us who believed he was serious, not just a troll, began trying to contact law enforcement. The FBI would have been interested if the threat involved money or child pornography, but simple murder? no. (They were very rude about it!) That's a matter for local law enforcement. Yes, but what locality?! Several of us tried for a couple of weeks to find some way to find out where he lived, but we could interest no national law enforcement in the matter, and nobody would issue a subpoena to the email service.

Had he been taking naked pictures of the 5 year old he would have been hunted down, his home searched, and probably arrested and tried. Or if he'd kidnapped her, the FBI would have been interested, or if he was selling drugs or bootleg cigarettes....

Since he was looking for a way to kill her, nobody cared.

Not long after this happened, a 5 year old with cerebral palsy was burned to death in a fire her father started, and he said he did it to put her out of her misery. I don't remember where that was, but I've always wondered if that was the man who was looking for a way to kill his daughter. The facts seemed to match.

Oh, and don't bother reminding an FBI agent that they get their paycheck from your taxes. They still don't have to answer to us and they know it.
3 posted on 01/21/2004 7:47:59 AM PST by Triple Word Score
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To: Space Wrangler
OMG. This is unbelievable. Well, actually, this type of response is normal for many areas where the sheriff gets too big for his badge. He and those deputies should have their heads handed to them with notes attached to their personnel files to include a 'do not recommend' for any referrals to future jobs.
4 posted on 01/21/2004 7:55:59 AM PST by mtbopfuyn
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To: Space Wrangler
I'm so glad the police are there to protect me. Why would I EVER need a gun??

Isn't THAT the truth. It's a good thing this slimeball didn't kill the other children -- but he certainly had time to do anything his sick little mind could come up with thanks to the ineptitude of law enforcement.

5 posted on 01/21/2004 7:58:59 AM PST by kimmie7 ("Cleaning with the kids at home is like shoveling during a snowstorm." -- Phyllis Diller)
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To: Dallas59
As courts have consistantly ruled, there is no legal requirement for them to even respond to a 911 call.

Police or community services are not a right. OTOH, I guess that's why we have a second amendment argument huh?

6 posted on 01/21/2004 7:59:33 AM PST by blackdog (Democrat Party? Democratic Party? Democrat Candidate? Democratic Candidate? Wassup wit dat?)
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To: blackdog
When someone calls and says," My friend, husband, whatever says he killed my family", I believe as a cop, I would do everything I could to find out what really happened. IMO, it looks like nobody wanted to get involved. If I did that on my job...I'd be out the door in one minute.
7 posted on 01/21/2004 8:09:40 AM PST by Dallas59
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To: Triple Word Score
Not long after this happened, a 5 year old with cerebral palsy was burned to death in a fire her father started, and he said he did it to put her out of her misery. I don't remember where that was,

Was that the case in AZ ???

As for the 9/11 Operators .. Years ago in Philly there was outrage when Eddie Polec was beaten to death by a mob of kids

Alot of folks were calling 9/11 and the operators there wouldn't send out the police

8 posted on 01/21/2004 8:12:18 AM PST by Mo1 (Join the dollar a day crowd now!)
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To: Triple Word Score
The FBI is more interested in its political image than in justice. A good political image means a good flow of money from the government. In the old days of J. Edgar Hoover that was more or less OK, because bringing justice was what people wanted. Now, however, it seems to have made them very politically correct. So they will dedicate hundreds of agents to finding an abortion bomber, but they will not lift a finger to protect a child from, er, assisted suicide by her parent. Even under Bush, they are still probably dedicating more energy to finding abortion protestors or "fundamentalist Christian militias" than they are to finding Muslim terrorists.
9 posted on 01/21/2004 8:15:39 AM PST by Cicero (Marcus Tullius)
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To: Triple Word Score
Apparently, in some states, police can't (or won't) get involved in a situation until violence has already occurred. Just before Christmas in Roanoke, VA, a young woman, a hair dresser, was threatened by her boyfriend. Someone, maybe a friend, called the police and they were told they could do nothing because he hadn't done anything. When he showed up at her work and waited outside, everyone inside was frightened. Finally realizing she would get no help from the police, she left, probably to protect the people inside. Within 2 hours, she was dead. A friend of my mother's was one of the patrons in the salon. So very sad. That woman's life could have been saved.
10 posted on 01/21/2004 8:21:42 AM PST by twigs
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To: Cicero
Ignoring 9/11 calls like this one is corruption at its most basic--a fundamental refusal to get out of the chair and use taxpayer funds for their intended purpose.
11 posted on 01/21/2004 8:22:22 AM PST by Triple Word Score
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To: Space Wrangler
She should have told the police that there was 10lbs of marijuana in the house. They would have broken the door down within the hour.
12 posted on 01/21/2004 8:22:39 AM PST by T.Smith
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To: Mo1
I don't remember where it was. It was a national story for awhile, though--in part because there were actually people defending what he did or making excuses for it.
13 posted on 01/21/2004 8:23:52 AM PST by Triple Word Score
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To: Cicero
So they will dedicate hundreds of agents to finding an abortion bomber, but they will not lift a finger to protect a child from, er, assisted suicide by her parent.

Without passing judgement on your assessment of the FBI, it is not their call whether to go after an abortion bomber or a muderous parent. The FBI can only get involved in something that is a federal crime (hence the "F" in their name). It is up to Congress and the President to pass and sign laws making something a federal crime.

Kidnapping, for instance, was made a federal crime in the wake of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping. Plain old murder of a child is still just a state crime. The FBI can come into play if circumstances permit, such as a suspect crossing state lines. In general, I think there has been too much "federalizing" of crime already.
14 posted on 01/21/2004 8:35:56 AM PST by drjimmy
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To: mtbopfuyn
It is unbelievable. They recieved a report of a murder, and did basically nothing until another county's 911 supervisor implored them to investigate. This is total dereliction. It is truly a lucky thing that this guy didn't kill those kids, because if he had, the blood would be on the hands of that Sheriff's department. The first deputy to show up some 5 hrs after the intitial calls were placed missed a body lying in an open building. ALl he had to do was poke his head around the corner, and there was a body lying in plain sight. So the deputy had a report of a murder, went to knock on the door, and when no one answered he immediately surmised that no murder had taken place. They even refused to take a kidnapping report over the phone, and basically were aggravated with this woman calling them. This is a problem from the very top down.
15 posted on 01/21/2004 9:29:41 AM PST by Space Wrangler
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To: drjimmy
I don't disagree that murder shouldn't be a federal crime, but this was a frustrating situation to say the least--someone possibly got away with murder because there was no way to find him in time. Of course the state and local jurisdiction is charged with dealing with crime and that's the way it ought to be. It's just sad when someone can publicly declare that he's going to murder a child and there is nothing to be done, but if he'd intended to photograph the child or use her to sell cocaine, or stop her from getting an abortion, THEN the feds would get involved.

It's not a situation that was likely to arise before the development of the internet, of course. Brave new world, eh?
16 posted on 01/21/2004 12:52:57 PM PST by Triple Word Score
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