Update: Just another domestic disturbance call

On Feb. 8 I wrote the entry Just another domestic disturbance call about Teresa Lynn Baker, a woman who lived next door to her daughter. A daughter that had had a history of alleged domestic abuse with her partner. And I admitted I was conflicted about what Teresa Baker had done. She called police to tell them about what was happening at her daughter’s home. And when they failed to respond in an hour, she left her home and went to her daughter’s home where she allegedly proceeded to shoot Jeffery Sadler, her daughter’s boyfriend and the father of some of her grandchildren.

Well I still believe that the only valid reason for taking a life is in defense of self and others, but I am a little less conflicted about it now. More information about the case came out in the preliminary hearing.

According to the defense attorney, Teresa Baker heard screaming at her daughter’s house. And one of her grandchildren told her that the couple was fighting. And according to the defense attorney Teresa Baker was told

“he had been threatening her with a knife, saying he was going to gut her.”

She didn’t rush over there and insert herself into the argument. She called police. The dispatcher reportedly told her

“We’re going to get (police) right there,”

She knew about the history of violence in the home. She had been told he was armed with a knife. She had been told of the threats. And she went out on her porch and sat and worried and waited with a gun in her houseshoe. 

One hour went by. A very slow 60 mins. A total of 360 seconds. She had a child in that home with a man wielding a knife and threatening her. She had grandchildren in that home who were watching what was happening between their parents, who had heard the threat. For one hour she sat and worried and waited. And no police.

She finally got up, went to the home and shot Jeffery Spadler.

Forensics detectives have said they found “stab marks” in a wall of the home.

Police have said they did not respond because they did not have officers available. They have said that because Baker was calm in the initial phone call they put it at a lower priority. Now they say that if Baker had told them she had a gun, that would have probably made it a higher priority! They also commented on the fact that in the initial call, Baker appeared calm.

My computer won’t play the 911 video’s that are listed (I only got part of the last call to play) and I haven’t found a written transcript of the 911 calls. But I question whether the first call was a calm and collected person, or a scared mother struggling to remain calm so that she could give the police the information that was needed in order to get police to come to her daughter’s aid.

After the murder she did not appear calm, she also didn’t attempt to hide what she had done nor did she appear to have attempted to hide evidence of what she had done. She reportedly went home, picked up the phone and called the police back and hysterically told the dispatcher what she had done. Finally police had the emotion they say was missing in the first call. So much emotion the dispatcher reprimanded her repeatedly to calm down.

herald-dispatch.com                     wsaz.com (video with links to the 911 call)

As I have said before, while I don’t condone what Teresa Baker is accused of doing… if I felt my child was in danger, and police did not respond… I don’t know if I would have done anything different- except probably I wouldn’t have waited the full hour.

In time Teresa Baker will be in trial and facing a jury. Most likely she will not be facing a jury of persons who had been in domestic violence relationships or who had lost someone to domestic violence. This jury will probably know the myths and misconceptions that go along with domestic violence. But they may not know the facts, the things that only come from surviving it- either directly or through a loved one.

The struggles that a parent, child, sibling, cousin or friend goes through as they watch their loved one struggle with domestic violence. The fear and worry they live with as they try to advise their adult loved one, and the helplessness they feel when the adult child remains in the relationship. The grief and struggles they go through when they lose them forever.

At some point Teresa Baker will face that jury of citizens from that county. I am not going to ask you whether you think what she did was right or wrong, that is for the court to decide. But I will ask if you were in her shoes, what would you have done? Do you feel that you can reach out and help the citizens in that area to understand this from the point of view of a person who has been there?

Herald Dispatch Letters to the Editor

Huntingtonnews Editor

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