She said she later heard background noises that police have said indicate a struggle, but they "didn't register as anyone in obvious distress."Horrible negligence and a despicable cover-up. At best.
The interview was conducted days after Gahagan mishandled the 911 call from University of Wisconsin-Madison student Brittany Zimmermann, who was stabbed to death in her apartment April 2. Her murder remains unsolved.
Until Thursday, the county had refused to release Gahagan's interview; it provided the four pages documenting the interview after it was ordered to do so by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess. A group of media outlets is suing the county for access to records related to its handling of the call.
The newly released records show county officials have not been candid with the public about the call.
They show they realized within days of Zimmermann's homicide that the call contained a scream. Yet weeks later, then-911 center director Joe Norwick insisted the dispatcher had no way of distinguishing the call from dozens of accidental and "hang-up" calls the center receives daily.
Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk later acknowledged the call contained significant sounds but refused to describe them. Norwick has since resigned.
The county did not even acknowledge the existence of the call until nearly a month after Zimmermann's slaying and then only after a report about it appeared in a newspaper.
The call lasted nearly a minute, and Gahagan inquired three times whether an emergency existed. After it was disconnected, Gahagan never called the number back, though the 911 center's policy requires it.
She told her bosses she failed to call Zimmermann back because she moved on "to other 911 calls waiting to be answered."
Police did not arrive at Zimmermann's apartment for more than 40 minutes, after her fiance found the 21-year-old dead and called 911.
December 13, 2008
Said the 911 operator, Rita Gahagan: