Would 21-year-old wife and mother Denise Lee be alive today if 911 call center operators hadn't mishandled calls from the victim and eyewitnesses? When Denise Lee was kidnapped from her Florida home on January 17, 2008, she called 911 from a cell phone. And so did several witnesses who saw her screaming and banging on the windows of a green Camaro being driven by her abductor. But there was no follow-through, and two days later on January 19, 2008, Denise Lee was found raped and murdered.
A heartbreaking tale of abduction, rape and murder didn't have to end with a young mother's death. Why did 911 call center operators fail to pass on critical information when kidnapping victim Denise Lee called them, pleading for help? For several minutes, operators spoke to Lee on the phone, and several eyewitnesses called 911 as well -- one who reported the location of Lee at the time. Yet authorities failed to act on the info, and that may have contributed to Lee's death.
For months there was little national media coverage of the tragic kidnapping of Denise Lee. During her abduction, even though several urgent calls were received by 911 operators from witnesses and from Denise herself, nothing was done. Then, in July 2009, ABC's PrimeTime: Crime covered her story, and women from all over responded to the horrific incident.
Although defense attorneys attempted to block jurors from hearing the 911 calls from Denise Lee and a witness, both were played in the courtroom. Afterward, jurors deliberated for less than two hours and on August 28, 2009, they found Florida plumber Michael King guilty of the kidnapping and murder of Denise Lee. Despite the conviction, Lee's husband intends to pursue a lawsuit charging that the 911 call center's mishandling of the situation was a contributing factor in her death.