"I'm Afraid To Go Downstairs…"
Part Two of What We Learned from Victor’s 9-1-1 Call.
We turn now to what precisely was said, and what it may be saying.
The 9-1-1 call recording (Right click to open in new browser)
:13 seconds into the call, Victor tells the 9-1-1 dispatcher “…we’ve had someone (unintelligible) in our house evidently, and they stabbed somebody…” At 1:15 when asked who committed the stabbing he says “…I don’t know, we think it’s somebody (unintelligible) an intruder in the house. We heard a chime at the door.” He’s asked several times whether Robert is breathing and gives contradictory answers, first saying he doesn’t know, later at 2:40 heard to be asking Joe but not answering, and then around 3:05 confirming that he is “…but we need help now.”
Around 3:50 when asked if a door is open for paramedics, Victor sounds momentarily confused and begins to say “I’m gonna go down…” and shortly after volunteers “…the person had one of our knives.” About 4:24 he says “…we have no idea, we have no description. We heard the chimes, and we heard the screams from our friend. And so we came running downstairs, we ran in…”
When asked by the dispatcher if he heard the door then the screams, Victor reverses himself saying “…I didn’t hear the door open until after the scream and then we ran down the stairs and then heard…we have an alarm, and so the chime went off…” Shortly after at 5:00, again pleading for an ambulance, he admits he’s “…afraid to go downstairs.”
At 5:47, still desperate for help, Victor makes a not-quite intelligible statement, perhaps saying “I need…”, “I knew this was…” We can’t say for sure. But he quickly cuts himself off exclaiming “…here they are, here they are.”
At 5:57 he says he’s going downstairs, the door can be heard opening, and Victor pleads with the EMTs for help. About 6:22 into the call, and for the remaining :80 seconds, Victor can clearly be heard breaking down under the crush of emotion. It is difficult to hear.
The audio, like the case, presents new puzzles. At the top are the very first comments. While not beyond credulity, it seems odd that the first thing said would be speculation of an unseen, unheard intruder, rather than simply – ‘help, we need help, our friend’s been stabbed.’ Notable if at least several minutes have passed beyond the shock of discovering the scene.
Also there’s the curiosity of volunteering that said unseen, unheard intruder “…had one of our knives.” Yes, a knife from the butcher block was found on the murder scene, but it’s clear that knife was not the murder weapon. Further, in a panic, without checking, would any of us recognize a knife found in such an emergency as from our own butcher block – and mention it to the 9-1-1 dispatcher?
Commentors have already noted the question asked by the dispatcher, to the effect, did the person run out of the house with the knife? Victor stumbles out an “…I think so…” but is clearly in an agitated state. While the dispatcher is only trying to get as much information as possible, it seems an odd prompting given Victor’s prior assertions not to have seen anything. His response may simply be that of someone trying to make sense of a senseless situation.
Next is Victor’s location. It’s certain he was on the third floor at the start of the call, was back on the second floor about three minutes into the call, and only moves to the first floor when the EMTs arrive. Understandable if one assumes there may still be an intruder in the house? It’s hard to say, and we want to extend every possible explanation to the defendants. And then, if they (using the pronoun ‘we’) had already identified the butcher block knife, wouldn’t that mean the unseen, unheard intruder no longer had it?
More troubling is the garbled comment at 5:47 into the call. Whether it’s “I need…” or “I knew…” or “I…” anything, it suggests some other knowledge of the situation that’s not being shared with the dispatcher. This is, of course, just speculation. But it is troubling.
Finally, beyond the understandable confusion to which any on-scene witness is prone, comes Victor’s complete breakdown once the EMTs arrive. Again, we pass no judgment on anyone’s emotional upwelling in such a situation. This editor has never discovered a friend in such a state, and can’t imagine how he may sound in those first moments.
However. We also feel this cannot go without remark. In the original affidavit, one of the EMTs (W1) asks “…what’s going on?” While the affidavit says “…Zaborsky did not respond directly to W1, however, overheard Zaborsky say something about a stabbing on the second floor.” It’s clear that’s just what Victor said, speaking out loud to arriving paramedics and pleading for help. W1 then enters without comment by a sobbing Zaborsky; a fact again corroborated by the 9-1-1 tape. For those who have questioned whether the affidavit accurately describes the overall scene – at least here it does.
Then there is a puzzling aspect to the timing of the outburst. Perhaps it’s because new faces are on the scene – faces (EMTs) presumably who can make everything better. But we would be remiss if we didn’t also question what many others have: that Victor’s breakdown feels fundamentally different than the rest of the call. Almost as if reality were setting in.
What reality? Of a friend’s murder? Of an unseen, unheard intruder still potentially in the house?
Or, possibly, of some deeper understanding of the true events of that evening, and the finality of it all?
– posted by Doug