GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. (WOOD) — News 8 has received transcripts of a 911 call made three hours before the bodies of a 45-year-old woman and her 25-year-old niece were found shot to death in their home on Grand Rapids’ Southeast Side.
The call came from one of the victims who told a dispatcher that someone was trying to kill her and had already killed someone else.
The family of the victims say they do not want to go on camera until the suspect is caught, but they do want to know why police did what they did the morning that these women were murdered.
It was just before 1:45 p.m. March 13 when the 911 call came from this home in the 500 block of Sheldon Street SE where police would find 45-year-old Cherletta Baber-Bey and 25-year-old Keyona Griffin dead from gunshot wounds.
Police are still looking for a person of interest, 45-year-old Derrell Demon Brown, who has been the only person named as a suspect by police.
Police refuse to release the audio recordings of a 911 call made at 10:29 a.m. on the day of the killing, three hours and 15 minutes before the call reporting the discovery of the bodies.
However, they did release a transcript of the call after a Freedom of Information Act request.
The caller says she is at the address where the murders occurred.
“Can you hurry up please, I’m gonna die … he’d trying to kill me…he’s already killed my…,” the caller told the dispatcher.
The transcript says the end of the sentence is unintelligible and identifies the caller as Keyona.
Seconds later, Keyona says “Please hurry. Help me Somebody help me. Please hurry, help.”
“The call came from a cellular phone, not a landline, so we cannot immediately identify where that call is coming from,” said Grand Rapids Police Sgt. John Wittkowski, tasked with explaining what happened as a result of that call.
Police officers report they tried to call back the 911 caller and sent officers to the home where they knocked on the doors and looked in windows.
“There was no indication of any foul play, no broken windows, no doors that were forced,” Wittkowski said. adding there was no evidence that there was anything that happened in the house, so they left the scene and wrote up a report. “A few hours later, we found a homicide scene.”
So how is a call from someone saying they are going to be killed not enough probable cause to warrant entry into a home?
“If someone is saying someone’s trying to kill them, that is certainly a piece of information that is valuable, but we can’t just make entry into a home with a simple statement,” Wittkowski said. “Certainly, hindsight being 20/20, absolutely, we would have made entry all day long.”
Wittkowski says the department gets call similar to this frequently that turns out to be nothing.
“By the simple statement, ‘he’s trying to kill me’ is not enough. We need something to corroborate that,” Wittkowski said.
Meanwhile, police continue to look for Brown, who is the subject of a nationwide alert.
Anyone who has information should call GRPD at 616.456.3400 or Silent Observer at 616.774.2345.