911 Dispatchers honored for helping kidnapped woman - Fox 28: South Bend, Elkhart IN News, Weather, Sports

911 Dispatchers honored for helping kidnapped woman


Two 911 dispatchers, Heather Lock and Kelly Landers, were honored by the Board of Commissioners of LaGrange County Monday for their service during the Michael Elliot hostage situation. Both dispatchers received the Meritorious Service Award for their service.

The two dispatchers were told they were being called to a meeting Monday morning at the LaGrange County building, where they were surprised with the award. FOX28 News was at the ceremony to see their reactions. Both said they don't consider themselves heroes at all, rather, it's what they were trained to do, it's part of their job, and it's a job they do every day.

Landers says she's worked as a dispatcher for 15 years, and the call she received February 2nd was "the call of her career," one she knows she will never receive again.

Cheryl Van Wormer was being held against her will in her Jeep Cherokee by Elliot, who was an escaped convict out of the Ionia Correctional Facility in Michigan. Elliot stopped for gas at the Gallops station in Middlebury around 11:45pm. He was inside pre-paying, while Van Wormer secretly called 911 and reached dispatcher Heather Lock. During the 911 call, Lock's partner Kelly Landers was listening to the conversation while calling Elkhart County Police and trying to locate Van Wormer.

Lock coached Van Wormer throughout the 30-minute phone call, telling her not to hang up the phone. "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.  Elliot was later captured in LaPorte County.

Lock has worked as a 911 dispatcher for 3 years. Both have been dispatch partners since Lock started, and was trained by Landers.

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