Jason Young was convicted in 2012 of murdering his wife, Michelle. It was a flimsy circumstantial case with no physical evidence linking him to the crime, but nonetheless he was convicted. He won his appeal in April 2014 and was granted a new trial, however the North Carolina Supreme Court reversed the decision in August 2015. The case has been sent back to the Appeals Court to review his other claims.
The 911 call was placed by Meredith Fisher just after she discovered her sister covered in blood lying on the bedroom floor. She testified that she walked over to the side table, grabbed the house phone and called for help. She also said that she used the home phone because her cell phone was in her car. The cell phone was not used to place the call. In fact, since the car became part of the crime scene, she was unable to get the phone until days later after police had finished processing the home.
While reviewing the case materials to (hopefully) find new evidence to prove Jason’s innocence, I noticed that the 911 call was not listed on the home phone records. This is significant because it means the witness lied about placing the call from the home phone ( while simultaneously discovering her two-year-old niece popping out from beneath the covers), but more importantly — how was the 911 call placed? The call must have been placed from an unidentified cell phone. Meredith was alone, so whose phone did she use? Was it a disposable/untraceable cell phone?
If you listen to the 911 call, note that the operator immediately asks “What is your phone number in case I lose you?” Landline calls are visible to 911 operators and they instantly see the name and address of the caller; however when cell phones are used they only receive tower information and do not know the exact location of the emergency. That is why they request the number!
BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — Every time someone uses a cell phone to call 911, it’s directed to the Erie County Public Safety building downtown. It’s been that way for years. But it presents some unique challenges for dispatchers.
The biggest challenge, officials say, is pinpointing your location, especially if you’re unable to provide it.
Traditional landlines automatically provide your name and exact address to dispatchers. Cell phones, which use GPS technology, don’t. And their location isn’t as accurate. That’s why knowing where you are is critical.
“When you’re calling for help, we want to know that right off the bat,” said John Glascott, commissioner of Erie County Central Police Services. (link)
Logically it makes sense that an alternate phone was used. One, it’s not on the phone record and two, the operator couldn’t see the number and location. How was this overlooked, or if it was known, why didn’t anyone pursue the origin of a critical phone call in this case?
I am continuing to research this case and will also be publishing a book later this year.