Let’s be honest, tragic accidents and crimes on the news are commonplace enough that we can easily tune them out these days. With stories out there about serial killers like Ted Bundy and the Zodiac Killer, straightforward murder by intruder can seem almost mundane in comparison. Disturbing content pretty much goes with the territory for true crime fans, but there’s something about these eight 911 calls that will chill even the most desensitized of listeners.
This list runs the gamut of gruesome crime from murder to terrorism, and features real recordings that force you to experience the terror of each situation alongside the victim. Be forewarned, in a category of 911 calls, the bar for disturbing is set pretty high.
The Murder of an Elderly Woman
One of the most famous and controversial calls on the list is the final moments of Ruth Price. What begins as a description of a man lurking outside Price’s apartment ends in her screams and cries for help. The 911 operator noticeably failed to get her address, and the murderer escaped before police arrived.
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The tape’s credibility is widely disputed because of a lack of information on the initial crime, as well as the operator’s strange break from protocol. However, several officers have claimed this recording is presented as genuine in dispatcher training and is used to demonstrate what not to do.
“My name is Charles Hendricks Foster, and I am about ready to kill my wife.”
Perhaps the scariest part of this story is that Charles Foster made all three 911 calls that night while sitting right next to the wife he was threatening to kill. He demanded that the operator send police to arrest him before he murdered his wife, and refused to answer any further questions as he hung up several times.
Foster became increasingly agitated and seemed barely able to comprehend the operator, let alone get his story straight. He claimed he had punched his wife in the face because she was drunk, before immediately rebutting this by saying they hadn’t been drinking and that he was “crazy.”
Police arrived to find he’d stabbed his wife in the chest, but were able to get her help in time to save her life and arrest Charles Foster.
9/11 Phone Call from the Twin Towers
Kevin Cosgrove’s 911 call from the 105th floor of the south tower during the attack on the Twin Towers documents one of the most tragic and pivotal events in American history. He becomes increasingly disheartened as the smoke gets thicker, his breathing audible and labored.
“We’re young men and we’re not ready to die,” Cosgrove said as he hid in an office with two other men. Firefighters searched the building but were unable to reach them in time. Before the tower collapsed, Cosgrove heartbreakingly talked about his wife and young children, whom he had previously informed that he made it out of the building safely.
Domestic Violence Through the Eyes of a Six-Year-Old
This wasn’t the first 911 call young Lisa Floyd made over the abuse her mother faced at the hands of her stepfather, but this particular call has become a key factor in bringing awareness to the impact of domestic abuse on children. It is clear to see why, as the vulnerability of the little girl is hammered home by statements like “he’s hurting mommy,” and her screams as her stepfather attacks one of her younger siblings.
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Although Child Protective Services visited the house at least 23 times, the children were never removed, and Floyd would struggle with her own abusive relationship years later before becoming an advocate for survivors of domestic violence.
“I just killed my mom and my sister.”
This call is made all the more haunting by the detached tone of 17-year-old Jake Evans as he calmly recounts killing his family. Evans describes luring his sister out of her room and shooting her multiple times as she falls down the stairs screaming. He then makes the call from the kitchen after shooting his mother, telling the operator, “I wasn’t even really angry with them, it just kind of happened. I’ve been kind of planning on killing for a while now.”
Although Evans clearly didn’t approve of his own actions, his voice was devoid of emotion as he said he would have killed pretty much anyone. He told the operator that he was “evil” and would understand if the police wanted to hurt him, but was arrested without incident.
A Terrifying House Invasion
Michelle Hall was home alone and recovering from a car accident when a man broke into her house and sexually assaulted her. Hall dragged herself to the kitchen to call 911 when she heard pounding at her basement door, telling the operator that she had a broken heel and was confined to the couch. Because of her injury, Hall was unable to escape when the man appeared in her kitchen and punched her in the face.
The recording becomes downright chilling when her pleas and screams are muffled by his hand. Hall remembered him threatening her life before five officers were finally able to subdue the intruder.
The Drowning of Debra Stevens
When Debra Stevens’ normal road to her paper route was blocked by flash flooding, she took a detour that quickly became fatal. Stevens was inconsolable as her car was stranded in the rising water in unfamiliar territory and the police struggled to locate her. She became hysterical as the water rose up to her chest and then neck, repeating “I’m scared,” “I don’t want to die,” and “please help me” as the operator told her to “shut up.”
Although firefighters did arrive before her car was submerged, they were blocked by the flood water until almost an hour after she first called. By the time they could reach her car, Stevens had run out of oxygen and could not be resuscitated. An internal investigation of the 911 operator was conducted, but no charges were made against her.
The Call Before the Crash
The shortest call on this list took just 50 seconds to make. Chris Lastrella was in the car with his sister, brother-in-law, and 13-year-old niece when their accelerator jammed and sent the car out of control. Lastrella frantically said they had no brakes and were approaching an intersection and the end of the freeway. Their Lexus was going 120 miles per hour when it hit another car, went through a fence, and became airborne.
Seconds before plummeting to their death, someone in the car yells to “hold on” and “pray” before screams are heard and the call is cut off. All four passengers died on impact of blunt force trauma before the car caught fire.
Featured photo: George Chandrinos / Unsplash