Helen Harrion, 67, was found dead in her backyard on Tuesday and Jackson, Mississippi Police Chief Lindsey Horton said during a press conference Wednesday that officers mishandled a 911 call made prior to her murder, reports The Clarion Laedger.
According to records, Harrion called 911 at approximately 2:23 a.m. to report a prowler around her home in Jackson’s BelAir neighborhood. After approximately 12 seconds, the dispatcher disconnected the call.
Jackson PD allegedly arrived on the scene 8 minutes later, but when they didn’t see Harrion or any visible signs of break-in, they left.
When Harrion’s children arrived at her home around eleven hours later, they discovered blood inside of the dwelling but could not find her. They called police, but her son discovered his mother’s body before officers arrived.
Harrion was partially clothed, had been beaten and possibly raped. According to the autopsy report, she was “strangled, shot in the face and suffered blunt force trauma. Her neck was also broken,” reports the Ledger.
“We are all elderly people around here,” neighbor Doris Maxdell said. “I think somebody knew that she lived alone and they targeted her. That’s my belief.”
According to MSNewsNow.com, Chief Horton said that he was “not pleased” with his officers’ handling of the 911 call:
“I am not pleased with it, and it is a defining moment for us, a teachable moment.”
Horton said if officers would have walked around the house, they would have seen the house had been broken into and they could have found Helen earlier.
“While we did a good investigation, we obviously did not do one to the extent that we covered the entire property. We know that now and I do think our officers could have done a better job,” said Horton.
Chief Horton says officers should have put eyes on her, that is their protocol, and this won’t happen again, “We will be putting a system in place so this wont reoccur.”
According to police investigators, Harrion fought for her life, firing her weapon at least once.
“She did in fact have a weapon and there’s indication she discharged one shot. We don’t know whether she struck the assailant, she very well may have struck him,” said Chief Horton.
Even though the situation brings issues of police negligence to the fore, Hinds County Coroner Sharon Grisham Stewart said that the 911 call wasn’t a determining factor in Harrion’s death, insisting, “Death occurred around the time of the injuries. She would not have lived.”
The responding police officers have not faced disciplinary action as of yet, but an investigation is ongoing.