Detroit — A child’s anguished 911 call as her mother lay dying has prompted police to investigate the emergency operator and plead for the public’s help to catch the killer.

“My mother’s in the basement; I need emergency,” the breathless 8-year-old Tayonna screamed to the 911 dispatcher on Monday. “She’s almost dead. Mommy!”

Audio of the call released Friday revealed the girl told the operator repeatedly her mother was breathing but near death. But the dispatcher didn’t ask what had happened or learn there was a double shooting at the home until more than four minutes into the call.

It’s unclear how long it took the operator to send help, but the woman died on the way to the hospital. Another victim was dead at the scene.

The chilling call, made shortly after two men opened fire inside a house on the city’s northwest side, has Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans outraged over “the agony of what that young lady went through,” he said.

“If you listen to the tape, you’ll be as righteously indignant as I am,” Evans said

Police said ex-convict Derrick Smith, 42, and another unidentified suspect are responsible for murdering the girl’s mother, Monica Botello, and a man, Purcell Carson, inside a house Monday night in the 19000 block of Glastonbury. Carson is not the girl’s father, although she referred to him as “dad,” police said.

The 8-year-old and her 6-year-old sister were in the home at the time of the shooting, although police said they did not witness the attack.

A warrant for first-degree murder has been issued for Smith, who was released from prison in 2007 for kidnapping and robbery charges and was on parole until January. Detectives are also looking for an accomplice.

Carson served time for a drug offense and was in prison with his killer, said Lt. Dwane Blackmon, head of the Homicide Unit.

“The suspect had some connection with the victims,” Blackmon said, declining to elaborate.

Probe of dispatcher

Police also are investigating the 911 dispatcher who took the girl’s call, Evans said. A recording of the call shows the operator spent several minutes trying to calm the girl and get the address. The girls were visiting the house with their mother.

“I’m not totally comfortable with the demeanor of the dispatcher,” Evans said. “I’m not passing judgment at this point, but we’re going to investigate.

“You need to calm a child down in that kind of situation. When a kid’s traumatized, we need to get a car there as soon as possible.”

Officials of the union that represents Detroit police dispatchers did not return phone calls Friday.

Police released an abridged version of the 911 call with permission of the victim’s family. It is 2 minutes, 27 seconds long, but WDIV-TV (Channel 4) posted a version on its Web site that lasts 5 minutes, 24 seconds. Police said they released only a portion because the unabridged version contains information investigators do not want to make public.

During the call, which was placed at 8:50 p.m., the dispatcher repeatedly cut off the girl to ask her address, and expressed frustration the girl was unable to tell her.

Evans questioned why the operator left the girl on hold for an undisclosed time, and expressed concern about how long it took her to dispatch a squad car to the scene, although he did not say how long it took. Carson was dead at the scene. Botello died on the way to the hospital.

“We need to have an investigation to satisfy those concerns,” Evans said.

Had the call been made from a land line, it would have been an easy matter for the dispatcher to determine the address, Evans said. Because the call came via cell phone, the technology does not exist to quickly determine its location, Evans said.

911’s troubles

Detroit has had trouble with 911 dispatchers in recent years.

An operator, Sharon Nichols, was convicted of willful neglect in 2008 after she told a 5-year-old boy to stop playing on the phone when he called to report his mother collapsed in 2006. By the time police arrived at the home hours later, the boy’s mother, Sherrill Turner, was dead. An arbitrator in July gave Nichols her job back.

Evans said listening to the little girl’s cries during the emergency call was troublesome. “If you see the lines in my forehead, they’re there because of the angst I feel in this type of situation,” he said. “We’ve all got kids. We’re anxious to get this guy in custody. We want to get all murderers off the street, but this one tugs at us a little more than others.”

Source: George Hunter / The Detroit News

LISTEN TO THE CHILLING 911 CALL from the 8 year old girl Tayonna begs for help for her dying mom, who was shot – while her dad laid dead: Detroit Police Chief Warren Evans said this, “If you listen to the tape, you’ll be as righteously indignant as I am.”

Derrick Dennard Smith, 42, is the suspect in this double homicide. Police say 42-year-old Derrick Smith, also known as “Leatherface,” is a career criminal and a man who served time with Purcell Carson and then murdered him and Monica Botello Monday night in the basement of Carson’s home on Glastonbury. He has a criminal history that includes prison stints on kidnapping, assault, armed robbery and weapons convictions. He was paroled in 2007, then released from state supervision in January. Police are asking for your help. Those with information are asked to call Detroit homicide at 313-596-2260 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 800-773-2587 (800-SPEAKUP). Also, anonymous tips can be text messaged to 847411. Texts must begin with the letters “DPD”, followed by the tip.

LISTEN to the Chilling 911 Call: Girl, 8, says Mom’s ‘almost dead’, Shot and Bleeding, her Boyfriend is shot dead  was originally published on

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