September 17, 2010
An internal investigation is being conducted by the Sedalia Police Department in response to a 911 call made from the home of a woman who was killed Sept. 7 in her home.
Sedalia Police Chief John DeGonia and Mayor Elaine Horn spoke Friday with Charlie Thomas, host of the morning show on KDRO radio.
“First and foremost, I want to offer a public apology for the one person’s mistake,” DeGonia said during the interview. “Nobody in this town worse than I wishes I could take this back. I think about this everyday.”
At 6:22 a.m. Sept. 7, the police department received a 911 call from the home of Rebekah Marcus, 76; shortly before 8 a.m., Marcus was found dead at her home at 1008 Royal Blvd. by Barbara Haines, a home health care worker.
The 911 call came from the home phone line of Marcus. The dispatcher picked up and heard nothing on the other end of the line.
“It was (written down) and people were meant to be sent,” DeGonia said. “The officers did not know about the call.”
At the same time, a call was received about a burglary at a local law office. An officer was sent to the burglary, but no arrests were made.
In an interview with The Democrat, DeGonia said that day there were four to five officers on staff who were working calls or patrolling.
Another dispatcher notified officers of the 6:22 a.m. 911 call that was not responded to later that morning.
“Because of the diligence of another dispatcher in doing their job, this error was brought to light,” DeGonia said.
A 911 hang-up call was also received at 6:08 a.m. that morning from a cellular phone. DeGonia said officers could only get partial information from the call at that time.
“That call was not made by (Marcus),” DeGonia said.
The department is investigating the source of that phone call and where it was made from. DeGonia said investigations conducted by the department and the Rural Missouri Major Case Squad led officers to believe that Marcus had already been killed by the time the call was made.
So far this year, the department has received 874 open-line 911 calls. Those calls do not include 911 calls received that are hang-ups or have a person on the other end of the line.
The department gets an average of five to six open-line calls per day.
Since the mistake, the department has held an in-house retraining on protocols and procedures with staff and DeGonia said disciplinary action will be taken against the person responsible.
“The rest of the department should not be judged or condemned for one person’s mistake,” DeGonia said. “We’re going to work hard to regain those people who might have some resentment about our service.”
Horn said she supports the department “110 percent.”
“They are professional. They are human and they care,” Horn said.
The internal investigation should be concluded within a week, DeGonia said.
“We’re going to work each day to regain the faith of the public,” DeGonia said. “What I can do is make sure nothing like this happens again.”
Daniel J. Maschger, 44, of Lee’s Summit, was arrested Sept. 9 and charged with first-degree murder, armed criminal action and burglary in the Marcus case. He is being held at the Pettis County Jail in lieu of a $1 million bond.