Tracking Down Origin of 911 Calls

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Janet and Rex Ellington have been plagued with the 911 mystery since November.

They would be sound asleep at 2 or 2:30 a.m. when Colorado Springs police officers would knock at their door, asking, what was their emergency and why had they dialed 911.

Janet told us, “I just called out from the upstairs bathroom window, it's not us."

The two cell phone numbers that were dialing 911 didn't belong to the Ellingtons, but that didn't seem to matter. Janet says her attempts to get it straightened out went nowhere. She was told the system showed her address was connected to them.

Janet says, “I don't know how they decided it was coming from our house. And then I got your call, returning my calls and I thought, thank God someone is finally listening to me!"

After Janet dialed Call for Action, I asked Lt. Catherine Buckley to investigate. She learned since the Ellington home was close to the cell tower, GPS was telling the 911 system that the calls were coming from their home even though they weren't.

Lt. Buckley highlights the calls, "There's the 17th, the 4th, the 4th, the 4th, the 4th, I think we had 1,2,3,4,5,6 calls on the fourth.”

After some behind the scenes work, Lt. Buckley discovered what had happened. One of Janet's neighbors had given their old cell phone to their kid to play with not realizing that even though the service was disconnected, it could still contact 911.

Lt. Buckley says, “They were able to contact the people there and let them know what was happening."

And now, 911 call takers have been alerted, too.

Lt. Buckley explains, “We've got a message in there for our call takers that it is not connected to this house so it will not happen again."

Lt. Buckley says one major problem for police and other law enforcement officers is that people don't realize, even if your cell phone no longer has service, if you dial 911, it will call a 911 call center and officers could be sent out to see if you need help. So if you're going to give your device to a child to play with, make sure you take out the battery.