911 dispatcher talks about call with hostage victim - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

911 dispatcher talks about call with hostage victim


So many people played important roles during Monday's search for escaped convict, Michael Elliot.

One of them is the dispatcher who took the call from the woman who says she was being held hostage by Elliot.

The dispatcher says the woman being held hostage, Cheryl Van Wormer, called 911 from a gas station on State Road 13 and County Road 2 in Middlebury, around 11:45 Sunday night.

She stayed on the phone with her until police came to her rescue.   

The call started like this:
Dispatcher: "911."
Van Wormer, "Yes, I'm at a Gallops station in Indiana getting gas. I'm hostage to an escaped convict."

Heather Lock has been a 911 Communications Dispatcher for three years, but she's never received a call like this.

"This phone call came in, she was talking completely calm, until she told me exactly what was going on. She caught me off guard," says Lock.

Lock says the caller, Cheryl Van Wormer, was being held against her will in her Jeep Cherokee at the Gallops gas station in Middlebury.

That's where escaped convict, Michael Elliot stopped for gas. He was inside pre-paying, while Van Wormer secretly called 911.

Lock says her main priority was getting the hostage inside the gas station while they tried to pin-point her location.

"You need to figure out somehow, how to get into the gas station. I said, 'Go tell him you need to go to the restroom or something,'" said Lock, recalling the 911 call. "'Do not hang up the phone with me. Keep an open phone somehow. Get into the bathroom somehow and make contact with me again.'"

Lock says Van Wormer went inside and asked the clerk for the address. The clerk gave her the address, but he couldn't tell anything was wrong. Van Wormer then locked herself in the restroom while she waited on the phone with 911.

During the 911 call, Lock said, "As long as you're in there, you're safe. So don't open up the door. I promise I have help coming your way."

Lock stayed on the phone with Van Wormer until she saw that promise fulfilled.

When officers arrived, Elliot had already taken off, but Van Wormer was safe.

Lock says it was an emotional day at work, but in the end, she was just doing her job.

"Every day you have someone's life in your hands, one way or another. But this one, takes the cake," says Lock.

Lock says Van Wormer's calmness helped her to remain calm while help was on the way.

She says looking back, the call seemed to last forever, but at the same time, was over in an instant.

She believes they were on the phone for about 30 minutes.

You can listened to more of the 911 call here.

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