You are on page 1of 6

January 2008 was a dark and tragic time for the family of Denise Amber Lee.

A man later identified as Michael King, 36, forced his way into the Lee family
home as Denise, then 23, was alone with her two young boys. King told
Denise to place her two young sons into a crib under the threat that he
would kill her children if she refused to comply. King then made Denise leave
with him and she did as he ordered; anything to protect her boys. Denise
was bound and shoved into the back seat of King’s green Camaro. He took
her to his house and brutally raped her for hours, forced her back into his
Camaro, and visited a cousin asking for a shovel and several other tools.
King’s cousin could hear Denise cry for help and did nothing, as he handed
King the tools he needed to complete his evil plan that began the day he
targeted the young and vibrant Mrs. Lee. Michael King drove Denise to a
remote area of town and ended her life with a single bullet to the head.
Denise Lee was left, buried in a shallow grave. King then fled the scene,
bringing to an end a beautiful life and leaving her husband Nathan Lee, her
beloved boys, and many friends and her close knit family to live the rest of
their lives without the joy of her loving presence.

That story, in itself is a tragedy that changed the lives of her family and
friends for all time, but that is sadly not even close to the end of the story.

Sharon Villatoro was alone and deathly ill on November 21, 2009. Sharon
had a reaction to medication that caused unbearable symptoms. Sharon
experienced the side effects of an allergic reaction; the feeling of her skin
crawling, she felt as if her face was burning and her throat began swell,
cutting off her oxygen supply and making it impossible to speak. Sharron
eventually died, unable to breathe, in an episode that took place in mere
minutes of complete terror as she helplessly watched her life slip away;
Sharon Villatoro was 42. The sad event took place in the same small Florida
town that Denise Amber Lee was murdered. Sharon was the single mother of
four children under the age of fifteen. Three of her children were adopted
siblings. Now her children face Christmas alone, their mother taken from
them far too soon and without reason.

Just days ago, December 16, 2009, Brian Wood, 55, died. As Brian drove
down a remote road he struck a light standard and was found sixteen hours
later, dead and alone, lying next to his vehicle. Brian was a popular local
business owner of Suncoast-V Twin Motorcycle Shop in North Port, Florida,
from the same town Denise Lee and Sharon Villatoro had lived. He left
behind many friends and loved ones. Many believe Brian could have been

North Port is a small, thriving bedroom community in Southwest Florida. The

tight knit community was reeling from the loss of three of its best when they
lost Denise, Sharon and Brian. The fact that every single one of these people
could and should have been saved is the horrific tragedy that connects the
three deaths. The culprit is one you may never imagine; they died horribly
due to unforgivable errors by 911 Emergency personnel.

Denise Lee not only managed to contact a 911 operator by miraculously

getting a hold of King’s cellular phone, but she also had an eyewitness who
followed King’s car for blocks. Eyewitness, Jane Kowalski, explained in great
detail all she observed as she kept pace with King’s car; Denise still bound
and bruised in the back seat. Her quick thinking and precise directions
should have made all the difference. For a reason that defies understanding,
the 911 operator never reported Jane’s call to police. The police were already
aware Denise was missing and they even had a description of King’s green
Camaro. Jane drove next to King and Denise as she stayed on the phone with
911 and continued to report all she observed to the operator, she then
watched helplessly as King turned away at an intersection and onto a well
known road. She told the operator exactly where King turned and what
direction he was going. She watched the Camaro drive away with Denise still
pleading for help. Michael King turned away from Jane Kowalski onto the very
street that Denise was later discovered, dead, violated, battered and buried
in a shallow grave with a bullet in her head. The 911 operator responsible for
the call was placed on paid leave after the incident came to light.

Sharon Villatoro called 911, in a desperate plea for help. She was very
aware that her life was rapidly slipping away and needed immediate care;
she was also aware she needed Benadryl and was ordered by the dispatcher
not to “eat or drink’ anything because it might cause her to “get sick and
cause problems for the doctor”. Sharon can be heard on the 911 tape
warning the operator she was losing consciousness, her throat was closing
and she couldn’t breathe. She can be heard moaning and gurgling as she felt
her situation become more and more desperate. The operator was heard on
the 911 tape telling Sharon to ‘relax’ and ‘find a comfortable position’ in the
six minutes she was on the phone with Villatoro. Eventually, a team of two
paramedics was dispatched. The 911 call was disconnected. The two first
responders at the scene called for backup; one paramedic was still in
training and no indication of the seriousness of Sharon’s condition was
relayed to paramedics. The back up team arrived eventually, but without
their officer, Lt. Bob Combs. Combs decided to stay behind at a soccer game
he had snuck away to coach while still on duty. Sharon died at the hospital,
the mistakes made by those who promised to serve the citizens of North
Port, cost her everything. All that transpired after the 911 call was
disconnected is still in question. What is known for sure; mistakes were made
that cost the life of the single mother. Combs resigned and the 911 operator
was put on paid leave pending the investigation.

Business owner Brian Green called 911 when he first made impact with the
light pole. Unable to speak, his call was disconnected. Just minutes later, a
group of teens saw him slumped over outside the truck and hurried back to a
convenience store to call 911. The young man making the call tried
desperately to tell the 911 operator the location of the injured man. The
caller was unsure of the exact name of one street, but knew every street
that intersected and by-passed the accident site. He was told “they didn’t do
things that way” when he begged someone to send police and paramedics to
the scene. For some reason, one of the street names did not show up in the
police database and no one was sent. The next afternoon, a police cruiser
spotted the truck and Brian Green. Needless to say, he was dead after
spending sixteen hours alone and dying by the side of the road.

The three tragically avoidable deaths in the same small town of North Port,
Florida are not just flukes. After hearing of these vital people dying while
trying to contact the one place we all believe is our lifeline, I began to look
into other States and similar stories. The results were appalling.

Brenda Orr suffered from Multiple Sclerosis. She was a resident of Bucks
County, Pennsylvania. Brenda was sleeping when fire erupted in her modest
home and she called 911 at once. She was put on hold for seven minutes
and then disconnected; she burned to death, unable to escape her home
that had become an inferno.

Brittany Zimmerman, 21, called 911 from her campus apartment. She was a
college student in Dane County, Wisconsin. The Chief said that there was
enough evidence to indicate distress, but Brittany could not speak and the
911 operator chose to hang up on Brittany instead. The operator never tried
to call back or send an officer to investigate. Brittany Zimmerman was found
dead the next day, murdered brutally, in her apartment from which the call
Michael Cantrell’s young son strangled to death in soccer net while the 911
dispatcher refused to tell him how to perform CPR, it is unclear if the
operator even knew how CPR is performed.

Sherrill Turner died when her five year old son, Robert, called 911 not once
but twice. Following is a transcript of the 911 call from five year old Robert
as he tried desperately to help his dying mother.
Robert: My mom has passed out.
Dispatcher: Where’s Mr. Turner at?
Robert: Right here.
Dispatcher: Let me speak to him.
Robert: She’s not gonna talk.
Dispatcher: Okay, well, I’m going to send the police to your house and find
out what’s going on with you…
Robert: My mom has passed out in her room.
Dispatcher: Where’s the grown up at?
Robert: In her room.
Dispatcher: Let me speak to her before I send the police over there.
Robert: She’s not gonna talk.
Dispatcher: Okay, well, you know what? Then she’s gonna talk to the police
because I’m sending them over there.
Robert: (Inaudible)
Dispatcher: I don’t care. You shouldn’t be playing on the phone. Now, put her
on the phone before I send the police out there…and you’re going to be in
Five year old Robert tried valiantly to save his mother’s life. She suffered
from a severe heart defect. By the time police arrived to ‘punish’ Robert, his
mother was dead.
From my research I learned that every 911 operator involved in these tragic
stories were given paid leave for several weeks and returned to continue on
as their respective communities’ first line of help. Only one operator was
I chose to share just a fraction of cases regarding the deadly errors I found
while researching the subject of 911 Emergency Services across the United
States. The numbers are staggering. It has been pointed out to me that
there is no regulated training for 911 operators in our nation. That brings me
to the silver lining in what has become a national epidemic of unnecessary
loss of life.
The Denise Amber Lee Foundation, , was
established by her husband, Nathan Lee after the horrible truth of how badly
911 Emergency Services in Southwest Florida and throughout the entire
nation have handled many emergency calls that directly caused the death of
countless people in distress and counting on 911 to send life saving aid.
Nathan is joined by many family members and friends who have vowed to
fight the terribly flawed system that many of us take for granted will be
available to help if we or ones we love need emergency care. The cause has
become nationally recognized and several members have worked alongside
local and national media to get this urgent message out to many Americans
who have no idea how our only hope for survival is often that frantic call
made to 911, a system that has proven untrustworthy.
This is a cause that affects us all. It is not isolated to one State, or rural
areas or poor neighborhoods. No one will be safe until laws are enacted that
requires all 911 personnel to be certified in a regulated program that insures
these people are properly trained and emotionally able to deal with life and
death situations.
Like all not- for-profit organizations, The Denise Amber Lee Foundation relies
on private contributions to continue the fight so vital to our safety. Hard
economic times often cause those who struggle to cut donations to these
types of organizations. This is not the time to ignore a flawed system that
can affect our chances of survival. Check out The Foundation’s web site
( and, please, give. If we all of gave a little, The
Foundation will succeed in passing legislation to make the crucial changes
needed to fix the broken, but necessary emergency system. The investment
of $100, $50, $25, is the cost of just one Christmas or Hanukkah gift. Don’t
wait until it is you calling 911 in an emergency only to discover you are on
your own.
Denise was a hero in life and, now, a hero in death. Her quick thinking and
training by her father, Police Sgt. Rick Goff, (a 28 year veteran of the same
system that helped kill his daughter) led Denise to plant evidence so there
would be no doubt who was responsible for her murder as she made the cell
call from King’s phone and then planted her own DNA and other evidence on
King and in his car, ensuring no other woman could suffer such brutality at
this violent criminal’s hand. Even in her last moments of life, Denise Lee
thought of others. In fact, the Prosecutor in the murder trial of Michael King
said the “Denise was the best witness I had against King.” King was
convicted and sentenced to death and now sits on Florida Death Row
awaiting the appeals process.
But Denise and all the others who have put their lives in the hands of our
badly flawed 911 system and died due to the calloused handling of their life
and death ordeals are a high price to pay to learn a much needed lesson.
The system is broken and the only hope for the safety of those in need is the
living. This is not a problem any of us can afford ignore.
Help Nathan and the Foundation help you, give what you can to further the
cause. Denise will live on in many hearts, yet from the tears that have
permanently etched the faces of her husband, children, and all who loved
the brave young mother, Denise still cries out for help. Only this time, it is for
us, so we never know the crushed hope Denise knew all too well when no
one came to save her as the system failed once more. Listen to Denise and
Sharon, Brian, Brenda, Brittany, Michael, Sherrill and her son, 5 year old
Robert; they all paid the ultimate price relying on a system that has proved
to be unreliable.
Sources; , The Englewood Sun Newspaper, ,

Related Interests