This article reports on an analysis of a sample of 911 calls (n=100) about homicides, so as to determine the differences in the words and voice tone of callers who were and were not the perpetrators of the homicide being reported.
Almost twice as many innocent callers (67 percent) asked for help for the victim than did guilty callers (34 percent). Guilty callers tended to provide rambling and confusing information about the circumstances of the homicide, suggestive of an effort to avoid detailed facts about what had happened. Callers who provided more information than was requested by the dispatchers might be attempting to provide a deceptive story rather than provide truthful information in response to the dispatchers' questions. Innocent callers, on the other hand, were more likely to focus on the primary objective of getting medical help for the victim as soon as possible. Five percent of the callers in the study insulted or blamed the victim, and all of these callers committed the homicide. Innocent callers were significantly more likely than guilty callers to correct erroneous information and to acknowledge their mistakes in reporting on what was happening at the scene. Twenty-eight percent of the callers gave conflicting facts and failed to correct them; all were guilty of the homicide. Innocent callers tended to show an impatient urgency in getting help for the victim, but ultimately listened to the dispatchers and responded as clearly as possible to aid in getting help for the victim. Guilty callers tended to be more patient, polite, and relatively uninterested in getting immediate help for the victim. Out of the 100 callers in the sample, 50 were innocent and 50 were proven guilty. 9 notes and a checklist for items in a call transcript related to caller guilt or innocence