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911 dispatch uses text to rescue an abducted woman

Simple, but effective.


Phillip Tracy


Published Jan 25, 2017   Updated May 25, 2021, 3:22 am CDT

A smartphone and some quick thinking helped rescue a woman after she was abducted and locked in the trunk of a moving vehicle.

On Jan. 14, a 911 dispatcher in North Carolina got a call from a Raleigh woman locked in the back of a car. Before the victim could reveal her kidnapper and where he was headed, the call cut out.

Unable to get her back on the line, the supervisor shot her a quick text, “can you text?”

The woman replied, “yes” and soon after, “help me.”

The 911 dispatch supervisor continued the conversation, and was able to get information about her abductor, and that the car was headed for Fayetteville, North Carolina. They contacted Verizon, and the service provider tracked the woman’s device and informed the police of her location.

“She was rescued, basically the police found her and we got to go home with the satisfaction, hey, she was located,” Tim Medlin, the dispatch supervisor, told KXAN. “It was a good night.”

The abductor was arrested and is now facing false imprisonment charges.

It was the first time the Johnston County, North Carolina emergency communication ever texted a victim.

The dispatch director wants to make sure text messaging is available to the team in the future, and has already ordered new smartphones to replace the cumbersome flip phone that saved the day. 


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*First Published: Jan 25, 2017, 7:34 pm CST