News Blog: Desperate social worker calls 911


On Sunday, before the explosion that shocked the country,Elizabeth Griffin-Hall, the social worker over the Josh Powell case, made a desperate call. The 911 dispatcher told her, “They have to respond to emergencies, life-threatening situations first.”

On Tuesday, authorities released transcripts and audio of the 911 calls received by the local police department.

During her first phone call, which runs seven minutes, Griffin-Hall told the dispatcher, “This could be life-threatening. … I’m afraid for their lives.”

Confusion ensued as Griffin-Hall tried to describe her job and her purpose visiting the house. The dispatcher spent over a minute trying to figure out if Griffin-Hall was the supervisor or the supervisee. If the visitation was for her, or Powell. The Washington Sheriff’s office told the Bellingham Herald Wednesday they were not happy with the banter between the dispatcher and the social worker.

The dispatcher said he could not send an authority until he had the exact address of the place and the social worker frantically tried to find the address in her car. The dispatcher did not have built-in tracking devices to locate the caller. By the time the first phone call ended, the young Powell boys had been in the house for 10 minutes.

A few minutes later in her second call to 911 she told dispatcher the news. “He exploded the house. He exploded the house.” Griffin-Hall heard the fire trucks nearby but by the time they arrived on the scene the house was engulfed in flames.

Authorities believe the act was planned. Powell used two gas cans to cover the house in gasoline before he ignited. Powell also withdrew $7,000 from his bank account on Saturday.

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