Powell Calls Raise Questions
Many unhappy with how emergency dispatchers handled situation.
What happened in the emergency call in the minutes before Josh Powell set the deadly fire that killed him and his two boys?
The caseworker called 911 for help after Powell locked her out of the house, but the 911 tapes raise questions about the response and there is a review under way.
The caseworker was questioned for almost seven minutes before the Comm officer said he would send a deputy.
Even then, it appears the call was handled not as a life threatening emergency.
Caseworker "Elizabeth" called 911 shortly after she delivered the two little boys to their father's home.
Elizabeth's call went to a communications officer at the Law Enforcement Support Center in Tacoma.
"I'm on a supervised visitation for a court ordered visit, and something really weird has happened,” she said.
The Comm officer needs the address.
Elizabeth struggles to find it.
One minute 24 seconds in: "But I think I need help right away … he's on very short leash with DSHS and CPS has been involved and this is the craziest thing ... he looked right at me and closed the door.”
For the second time Elizabeth identifies that man as Josh Powell.
She's heard the kids crying.
Less than 2 minutes have gone by, she sounds calm - but concerned.
"And I'd like to pull out of the driveway because I smell gasoline and he won't let me in," she said.
The next minute is a confused exchange between Elizabeth and the Comm officer.
He asks whose house it is.
He doesn't seem to understand what she means by a supervised visit.
He doesn't recognize who Powell is.
Three minutes in, the situation is becoming clearer, but still no sense of urgency.
"Okay, so you're supposed to be there to supervise Josh Powell's visit with the children? Yes...that's correct...and he's the husband of missing Susan Powell, this is a high profile case.”
It's unknown whether the Comm officer has had a deputy dispatched to the scene, but Elizabeth says the kids have been alone with their dad for 10 minutes.
The Comm officer is asking again for his name - how to spell it, what he was wearing.
Elizabeth's been on the 911 call over six minutes - she's still not sure when help will arrive.
Elizabeth: "Okay, how long will it be?
Comm officer: I don't know ma’am...they have to respond to life threatening emergencies ... life threatening situations first.
Elizabeth: Well this could be life threatening!
She hangs up and a short time later, the house erupts into flames. She calls again as she hears fire engines approaching.
“And he blew up the house and the kids!” she said.
Comm officer: The kids and the father were in the house?
The Comm center that took the 911 calls is asking people to withhold judgment, saying the questions they ask on those calls can be crucial.
They need to know who the bad guy is, where it is happening.
They say they cannot find people using GPS on your phone.
They need to know where you are.