I have all the respect in the world for 911 operators because let’s face it, they don’t have an easy job. It’s high-pressure work that demands a unique blend of skills; urgency, the ability to listen, communication, and compassion. Most of the time they deal with people who are having the worst day of their lives and the stakes are high – their people skills can truly be a matter of life and death. They need to be able to deal with people who are not in their right state of mind and they need to be able to make quick decisions. So definitely not a job for the faint of heart.
When 911 dispatchers arrive at work they never know what the day has in store for them. They don’t know what kind of people they are going to have to deal with or what decisions they will need to make. They might need to give medical instructions to bystanders, try to get information from a frightened child, perhaps even talk to a person who has just committed murder…
To create this article I listened to tons of 911 calls from around the internet (so you don’t have to!) and researched the backstories behind them. These 15 are the ones that freaked me out the most – don’t say I didn’t warn you.
15. “There’s No Brakes!”
The call that Chris Lastrella made to 911 lasted less than a minute but it’s one of the most bone-chilling audios I’ve ever heard. Chris called 911 in a panic saying that they were traveling on the highway and the accelerator had become stuck. “We’re in trouble,” he yelled, “There’s no brakes, Mission Gorge…end freeway half mile! We’re going 120 (mph)!” The operator tries to ask if they can turn the vehicle off but Chris shouts “pray” and the next moment a woman screams and the call disconnects.
The car crashed, killing Chris, his brother Mark, Mark’s wife Cleofe, and their 13-year-old daughter. The incident sparked a massive recall from the car manufacturer which saw 5.4 million vehicles being checked for the same accelerator pedal glitch.
14. “I Want You To Know I’m In Orlando And I Did The Shooting”
It was meant to be a night of fun and dancing, but it ended in the deadliest shooting attack ever carried out on American soil by a single shooter. The date was the 12th of June 2016 and the place was the Pulse nightclub in Orlando.
Omar Mateen, the man responsible for killing 49 people and injuring 53 more, holed up inside the club for almost three hours with numerous hostages. He called 911 and told the operator, “I want you to know I’m in Orlando and I did the shooting”. A police negotiator called Mateen to try and reason with him, but Mateen would not be moved. He demanded that the officer tell the US government to stop the airstrike’s on Iraq and Syria immediately and threatened to continue killing if this did not happen. He told the officer that there were cars outside the nightclub packed with enough explosives to “level a city block.” He refers to other terrorists as his “homeboys” – truly frightening stuff.
13. Teen Kills His Parents For No Reason
Alex Crain was just 14 years old when he fatally shot both his parents in their beds. The incident took place in the early morning of December 9th, 2010. After the shootings Alex dialed 911.
Sobbing, and full of emotion, Crain tells the 911 operator that his parents are dead. When she asks who killed them, he admits that it was him. He claimed to have no idea why he did it, denying that they had argued or that he had been upset with them. He simply states that he woke up with the gun in his hand and both his parents had been shot. He was tried as an adult and received a 20-year jail sentence.
12. “I Just Shot My Daughter And All My Grand-Kids”
Neighbors remember Don Spirit as a mean-tempered man who would regularly beat his children. He killed his own 8-year-old son during a hunting trip but served just three years for illegal possession of a firearm as police concluded that the shooting had been an accident. Spirit was often in trouble with the law, but his final act was by far the most brutal.
In 2014, Spirit called 911 to report that he had killed his 28-year-old daughter and all six of his grandchildren, aged between 11 years and 10 months old. He told the operator that he had shot them all and that he was waiting for police to arrive and then he would kill himself as well. As deputies arrived Spirit shot himself in the head. The reason why he committed the murders remains unknown.
11. 5-Year-Old Calls 911 After He Finds Parents Dead In Bedroom
A five-year-old child wakes up in the middle of the night and goes into his parents’ bedroom where he encounters a scene that no child should ever have to witness. His mother and his father have been shot to death. Bravely he dials 911.
His little voice is heart-breaking as he tells the operator that he went into the room and tried to wake his parents but they didn’t wake up. “I don’t know…I think they’re dead,” he says. He tells her there is blood in the room. When she asks him what woke him up, he says, “I think I heard a gunshot” and then, “I don’t see the gun but I’m scared”. The child was rescued minutes later, but the parents had in fact been murdered in their bed.
10. A Whispered “Please Hurry”
This whispered 911 call is intense. The woman calling was abducted and assaulted by suspected serial killer Shawn Grate but managed to place an emergency call from his cell phone when he finally fell asleep – right next to her. She tells the dispatcher that she was tied up and managed to free herself, but can’t escape the house. She is clearly terrified and who wouldn’t be in a situation like that?
Police arrived quickly and managed to rescue the woman, but then discovered the remains of two other women on the property. Grate is currently awaiting trial but claims that he never wanted to kill this woman and that they were going to marry. His court-appointed lawyer entered a plea of not guilty by reason of insanity, but Grate confessed to the media that he killed five women before the police caught up with him.
9. “He Ripped Her Face Off!”
In February 2009, a woman named Sandra Herold phoned 911 to report that her 200-pound chimpanzee had attacked her friend Charla Nash. “She’s dead!” she screamed at the operator, “He ripped her apart!” She pleads with the dispatcher to tell the police to shoot the chimp when they arrive, adding that she tried to stab him to make him stop but it only made him more aggressive. Imagine the scene: the caller has taken cover in a car while her pet chimp mauls her friend right in front of her eyes. It’s terrifying stuff.
Miraculously Charla survived, but the injuries to her face, arms, and scalp were extensive. She lost both her eyes and hands and had to undergo a face transplant. She sued the chimp’s owner and settled out of court for 4 million dollars, which when you consider the incident, doesn’t seem like very much compensation.
8. “Ma’am, I Am Going To Die”
John Maynard was working the night shift at a recycling plant on July 9th, 2010 when he had a terrible accident. While trying to fix a jam in a huge baler, his boot became stuck and the machine ripped off his leg just below the knee. The worst was yet to come – none of his co-workers heard his cries. John thankfully had his phone and called 911.
“This is not a joke,” he pleaded, “I’m… gonna die. I’m gonna bleed to death I’m afraid. Please help me.” For 11 minutes the operator stayed on the line with him, praying with John and reassuring him until the paramedics and police arrived. At one stage John says to the dispatcher, “It’s pretty gruesome in here, I’m not going to lie to you.” John managed to make a full recovery.
7. “He’s In The Library, He’s Shooting At Everyone”
Just after 11:20 am on the 20th of April 1999, 911 calls began pouring in. They were coming from Columbine High School were Dylan Klebold and Eric Harris were on the rampage – setting off bombs and shooting students. The most infamous 911 call was made by Patti Nelson, a teacher, who hid with students in the library. Sadly, this was where the majority of the victims of the massacre died.
At the beginning of the call, Patti tells the dispatcher that a student has a gun and is shooting outside the library, and you can actually hear the gunshots in the background. The 911 operator asks if she can lock or block the door to prevent the shooter coming inside, but she’s unable to and moments later her voice dropped to a whisper as she informs the dispatcher that the shooter has entered the library. Patti survived the incident – 13 others did not.
6. “He’s Gonna Kill My Mom And Dad”
The TV news called him a hero and there is no doubt that he certainly had more guts than most seven-year-olds. Little Carlos was at home with his family when three armed gunmen entered the house through an unlocked door. He grabbed a phone and his sister and quickly hid in the bathroom, locking the door behind him. He then called 911.
Clearly terrified he says to the dispatcher, “He’s gonna kill my mom and dad…can you come?” and then, “Can you come really fast? And bring cops too…a lot of them”. The operator immediately sends the police to his location, but suddenly there’s screaming on the line as the gunmen break down the bathroom door. There’s a tense moment, but when the intruders realize that the boy called 911 they flee without harming anyone or stealing anything.
5. “She Says She’s Been Stabbed!”
After becoming obsessed with a fictional character called Slenderman, two 12-year-old girls from Milwaukee decided that they needed to prove their allegiance to the character in order to protect themselves and their families from his evil. They decided the best way to do this would be to murder someone as an offering. They chose a mutual friend as their victim; another 12-year-old girl.
They lured her into the woods where they held her down, stabbed her 19 times, and then left her there to die. Thankfully the young girl managed to drag herself to the road where a cyclist spotted her and called 911. The good Samaritan is clearly shocked and distraught on the call but manages to keep his cool and give all the information he can. Thanks to him the girl survived despite having life threatening injuries.
4. “A Murder Has Been Committed…By Me”
Checkingson Sinclair waited three hours after fatally shooting his pregnant wife to call 911. The voice of the call chills you to the bone – he’s so calm as he informs the dispatcher that a murder has been committed and that he is the killer. On the calls he claims that his wife came at him with a knife, forcing him to act in self-defence. The female operator is clearly taken aback by the call but remains calm as she tries to gather information. When she asks where he shot his wife, he responds flatly, “I shot her in the head”.
3. “He’s About 6ft 9! And He’s Looking At Me!”
So a man living close to a wooded area calls 911 in the middle of the night to report that his sensor light went off outside and he saw “something” streak across his yard. It sounds like your pretty average call right?
Wrong. Things get creepy real fast when the man suddenly starts shouting, “You better get someone over here quick… he’s about 6ft 9!” The female dispatcher asks if he can see someone and he says, “Yes, I’m looking right at him”. She asks what the intruder is doing and he yells, “He’s looking at me!” You can hear in his voice that he’s shocked by what he’s seeing and can’t seem to believe it is a human being. The police arrive, but by that time the mysterious creature or person had vanished.
2. “I’ve Been Planning On Killing For A While Now”
Jake Evans (17) claimed that he was inspired to kill after he watched Rob Zombie’s remake of John Carpenter’s 1978 film, Halloween. As he watched the movie over and over again he built up the courage to kill and on the 3rd of October 2012, he murdered his mother and sister with a gun he had stolen from his grandfather.
But once he was done, Jake was in shock. He went into the kitchen and called 911. He told the female dispatcher that he had killed his mother and sister, and listening to the audio is terrifying when you realize that the bodies were only a few feet away from him at the time. When she asks him why he did it he replied, “I felt like they were just suffocating me, in a way. Obviously, you know, I’m pretty, I guess, evil.”
1. “Do You Want To Die?”
Off-duty police officer Sarah Berkey was forced to shoot her boyfriend Adam Jovivic after he broke into her house and assaulted her. The pair was in the midst of a breakup at the time and Adam went to her house in the middle of the night, drunk and looking to fight.
When she refused to open the door he broke in and violently attacked her. She managed to break away, run into the bedroom, and call 911. The call captured the sounds of Adam screaming at her while he broke down the bedroom door. The sound of her screaming while he beats her and shouts, “Do you want to die?” is enough to give you nightmares. She somehow managed to grab her weapon and shot him twice in the abdomen.
The chilling call helped Berkey prove that she acted in self-defence and she was cleared of any wrongdoing.