Skip to comments.Dispatcher suspended in PATCO slaying
Posted on 12/02/2001 4:28:33 AM PST by jordan8
A witness saw Christine Eberle being abducted from a Camden station and called police. No officers were sent.
By Dwight Ott and Maureen Graham
INQUIRER STAFF WRITERS
Investigators are examining Camden's 911 records and procedures to determine whether a police dispatcher's failure to relay the information that a woman was being abducted from a PATCO station contributed to her death.
Hours after the call, the woman, 27-year-old Christine Eberle, was killed by her abductors as she fended off a sexual assault, police said.
Officials said that the lapse was another sign of major problems in the dispatching operation and that an investigation would begin immediately.
Camden County Prosecutor Lee A. Solomon and Police Chief Robert E. Allenbach said reforming the system is mandatory.
"If anybody failed to take action or acted in any way to contribute to what happened to Christine Eberle, there will be hell to pay," Solomon said.
The failure occurred about 8 p.m. Nov. 12 as Eberle, who worked in a Center City office, was abducted from the Ferry Avenue station of the PATCO High-Speed Line on her way home from work.
A witness in the parking lot saw her being attacked by two men and called 911. According to investigators, the caller telephoned police from his car in the PATCO lot to say that he saw a woman struggling with two men. The caller, whom police would not identify, said a woman was screaming as she was being dragged into a car. The man followed the abductors' car through the parking lot and then lost sight of it, investigators said. All the while he was on the phone with police dispatch, they said.
The dispatcher dismissed the incident as a domestic dispute and never relayed the information to patrol officers, according to investigators.
Late on Friday, a 20-year veteran dispatcher with the Camden police was suspended without pay for not passing along the caller's information.
Dispatcher Marie H. Cupparo, 69, of Camden, did not respond to requests for comment left at her home and on her answering machine.
Allenbach said he suspended Cupparo for "failing to take action on information supplied in a 911 call." Police said she had concluded that the struggle was a domestic dispute.
Eberle's mother, Linda Reis, said Friday that she had not been told of the 911 call.
A transcript of the 911 tape was not available.
Allenbach said the Police Department would release a full account of the case next week.
"I assure that the Camden Police Department Internal Affairs office and myself will investigate this matter to the fullest," Allenbach said.
The development has arisen as Allenbach is fighting to keep his job. Mayor Gwendolyn Faison has refused to sign a new contract with him. But Allenbach has many supporters and allies, among them Solomon, who said his office will investigate whether word about the 911 lapse was leaked to discredit the Police Department.
"If this was leaked for political purposes, or to gain a political advantage, it is reprehensible," Solomon said.
Eberle was on her way home to Washington Township when she was abducted from the 1,200-space parking lot. Her body was found the next night about three miles away in a wooded area.
Two Camden men face murder charges in the case.
Eberle was a financial manager at Delaware Investments in Center City and was engaged to be married in April.
When she did not come home from work that night, her fiance went looking for her. He found her 2002-model Ford Explorer in the PATCO lot about 1 a.m., but it was not there when he returned about 5 a.m. That morning he filed a missing persons report with the Washington Township police.
Later that day, suspect Ryshaone H. Thomas, 23, of Camden, was spotted driving the Explorer and arrested. That night, Eberle's beaten body was found in the city's Fairview section, not far from where Thomas lived with his grandmother. Police said she died warding off a sexual assault.
Another suspect, Marcus D. Toliver, 22, was arrested Nov. 16. Both suspects were being held in the Camden County Jail on $1 million bail.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.