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Old December 30, 2011, 10:46 AM   #1
pax
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Murder in SC

First, the story: Victim's final minutes caught on store surveillance. Read this first! I started to quote from the linked story, but you really need to read the whole thing. You can also read the reactions of her family and friends, and a few more details at this link.

What happened: Hope Melton, a 30 year old woman, was kidnapped, sexually assaulted, and murdered by a man who had followed her for several miles at least. He apparently forced her car off the road to kidnap her.

When she became aware that the man was following her, she called her grandmother on her cell phone and said she was being followed. The grandmother told her to come straight to grandma's house and not to stop for anything or anyone. She never made it.

So, tactics and training:

If you received a frantic phone call from someone you love who was in a situation like this, what would you advise her to do? What questions would you ask and what would you do with the information?

Keep in mind, the victim was unarmed. Also, here's a link to the Google map of the area where her assailant apparently began following her. It's very rural. I would reasonably believe that a law enforcement response would take some time to arrive.

Thank God at least some good came out of her senseless death: the local sheriff announced he was holding a free class for women who wanted to get their carry permits, and the class filled within minutes of his announcement. Other women are also learning to shoot in response to the news. How horrible, though, that the victim couldn't defend herself when she needed it most. It would be much better if she were among the millions of people who have defended themselves with firearms and never made the headlines.

Her assailant didn't have a gun, by the way. He didn't need one.

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Old December 30, 2011, 11:02 AM   #2
Doc Intrepid
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Few good options...

Occasionally in life you may find yourself in a situation with few good options available to you.

The woman was clearly trying to flee in her car and her adversary forced her vehicle off the road.

After being run off the road, locking the doors won't stop someone from coming through the windows with a bat or a rock for that matter. Pepper spray may be of value, but one of its primary benefits is to allow the victim to flee on foot. In a remote rural area you have to ponder how far the victim could run before being overtaken by a (now enraged) pursuer.

Sometimes only a pistol in your purse or on your person is going to even the odds....regretably.
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Old December 30, 2011, 11:08 AM   #3
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If you received a frantic phone call from someone you love who was in a situation like this, what would you advise her to do? What questions would you ask and what would you do with the information?
I'd call the police on my other phone and start getting as many details about the follower as possible. Eventually the police would call her and make direct contact with her and they would direct her the best place to go so they could make a stop. You might think that that might not happen. But in my area it actually would.

I'd tell her not to stop even if he hit her car (especially if he hit her car). If it were my wife she would be armed, but hopefully now ready too. There are no front lic plates in our state but she could at least pass a vic description.
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Old December 30, 2011, 11:08 AM   #4
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Doc,

All true, so sadly true.

So what would you tell your wife or your daughter if she called you in a situation like this? What advice would you give her? What questions would you ask and what would you do with the information?

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Old December 30, 2011, 11:23 AM   #5
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While this isn't real far away from where I am, I'm not familiar with the area. With that said I would've never advised her to come home but to head to the nearest open business or the nearest law enforcement agency after having called 911. IMO this young lady should've called 911 first.

This is so sad & I don't like quarterbacking this but had she called 911 first the out come may have been different.
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Old December 30, 2011, 11:33 AM   #6
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I would of had her to call 911 also, don't stop unless a open business, police Dept or maybe a man outside his home. But so many of these cases would have different outcomes if people would arm themselves and defend it if threatened. But like so many others I know, they go day to day unarmed and think they'll call 911 if needed. How Sad!
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Old December 30, 2011, 11:47 AM   #7
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To answer my own questions (I live in a very rural area so this one strikes close to home):

1) I would find out exactly where she is. This would be my first priority, ahead of anything else. I would want to know the road, the mile marker, and the direction of travel.

2) My next question would be a description of the vehicle following her.

3) I would tell her not to stop for anything, especially not if he bumps into her.

4) I would tell her to honk and flash her lights at any vehicle she sees on the road, to follow any cars she can reasonably follow (again while honking and flashing lights), and to stop immediately at any house (or business, or farm, or whatever-it-is) if there are people outside. She needs witnesses, the more the better.

5) Because cell phone coverage is spotty to nonexistent in our area, I would not have access to a second phone line, nor would I have confidence that she could call 911 after she'd wasted her first call on me. Although I would rather keep her on the phone myself, for mutual comfort, I would hang up and call 911 with the information she'd given me. I would also direct her to do the same, but I would never assume she'd successfully done so.

6) Because we live in a very rural area and a "fast" police response would likely take 30 minutes or more, as soon as I'd called in and given the information to 911, I would drive toward the location she'd given me -- alerting whatever family, friends, neighbors I could think of who might do likewise from other directions.

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Old December 30, 2011, 11:53 AM   #8
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First off my wife carries, but lets assume she didn't.

I don't know the area in question, so I'll address it reference to the rural area I live in.

There are ranches and rural homes scattered through out the area. Wyoming people are Westerners, which means two things. They believe ladies are to be protected, and honored, and most have some sort of firearm or other.

So if I recieved such call from my wife, I would tell her to aim for the closest ranch house she sees, get on the horn and stay on it as she drives into the rancher's yard and he/she comes to their aid.

Chance are the bandit won't follow her into the yard. Besides the rancher, both cars are gonna be surrounded by a pack of dogs (seems to be a law here, ranchers or people who live in the country half to have at least three dogs running around their yard.)

Not perfect, (nothing is), but I think she'll have a better chance then waiting for me or the sheriff to come to her aid.

Having said that, way too many rural areas here don't have cell phone service (I don't in the canyon I live in), so I would insist wifey get a pistol/revovler and learn to use it. My wife has a CC permit, but they arn't required in this state to be able to carry.

I'm more concerned with my granddaughter, she turns 16 in Feb. and will have her license (although she drives quite a bit without one now).

I've pretty much given her a PPK, and work with her all the time. She can't carry legally, but I think she can keep a gun in her car with written permission from her guardian. We live on the state line, so I still have to research South Dakotas laws.
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Old December 30, 2011, 12:03 PM   #9
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This is terrible--so sorry to hear about that. : (
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Old December 30, 2011, 12:21 PM   #10
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If you think someone is following you, why would you call Grandma? 911.

Drive somewhere there are witnesses.

If run off the road, stay in the car.

Above all, especially if you are female, and someone threatens you if you do not go with them, DO NOT GO WITH THEM. If they are going to kill you, make them do it right there, instead of someplace of their own choosing. There are things worse than death, because death will come anyway.

That said, even a .25Auto from inside a car beats a baseball bat from outside the car. Carry your guns, people.
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Old December 30, 2011, 12:29 PM   #11
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Quote:
IMO this young lady should've called 911 first.
Quote:
If you think someone is following you, why would you call Grandma? 911.
Yes, she should have called 911. She didn't.

It isn't likely that anyone reading this will ever be the unarmed victim being followed -- but every single one of us has unarmed relatives and friends who might call us in a moment of high stress and high danger.

If you receive that phone call, what would you say? How would you respond to the victim's plea for help?

That is the specific scenario I want to discuss in this thread. Not what the victim coulda-woulda-shoulda done, but what you would do as the person receiving such a phone call.

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Old December 30, 2011, 12:29 PM   #12
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If you think someone is following you, why would you call Grandma? 911.
Depends on the person, my granddauther could be surounded by the 82nd Abn Div, if threatened she'd still call grandpa for protection, she'd call grandma to get a hold of grandpa.
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Old December 30, 2011, 12:32 PM   #13
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Thanks, Pax.

My wife had said she'd get her permit once we moved to Missouri; she was still chagrined when I signed us up for a class on the 10th and 11th.

"Why do I need one?" was her lament.

I showed her your link and the article today. She's not so opposed, anymore, after picturing this woman knowing something bad was coming her way, and having no effective means to respond.

(Although, if somebody ran me off the road, if the car still worked, I'd try to run their butt over if I didn't have a gun and they were approaching.)
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Old December 30, 2011, 12:45 PM   #14
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I thought I answered that....

If you receive that phone call, what would you say? How would you respond to the victim's plea for help?

Call 911.

Drive somewhere there are witnesses.

If run off the road, stay in the car.

If they try to get you out of the car, SHOOT THEM until they stop.
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Old December 30, 2011, 12:50 PM   #15
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One thing I would try to convey is that all the polite rules of society are out the window. Sometimes these things end up bad because the victim subconsciously thinks they can't "break the rules".

If your car goes off the road you don't stop until its disabled. Mailboxes, fences, sheep, run them over. Lay on the horn, nonstop. Run red lights if you can and have to... None of that matters right then.

The previous advice is good. Find people, don't stop. Get on with 911 if possible. Do whatever it takes to survive.
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Old December 30, 2011, 01:08 PM   #16
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4) I would tell her to honk and flash her lights at any vehicle she sees on the road, to follow any cars she can reasonably follow (again while honking and flashing lights), and to stop immediately at any house (or business, or farm, or whatever-it-is) if there are people outside. She needs witnesses, the more the better.
That is sound advice when feasible. I would be worried about someone making a wrong interpretation however. Best case the bad guy takes off.
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Old December 30, 2011, 01:20 PM   #17
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The killer is probably a sociopathic predator--he probably knew all the odds for response times and how "gullible" his victim might be--maybe even knew her drive paths and behavior patterns. Somebody posted elsewhere on this forum about having a "network" of neighborhood safe houses and armed response friends. Not a bad idea--especially in rural and high crime areas. With so many cell phones and cars equipped with GPS units these days I figure there has to be a way to exploit the technologies for full-time tracking and emergency response.
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Old December 30, 2011, 01:30 PM   #18
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Moved
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Old December 30, 2011, 01:33 PM   #19
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Or I don't need it grandpa cause I have you.
Answer: "You will not always, as you have your own life, and are responsible for it- I can't be everywhere, all the time."
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Old December 30, 2011, 01:55 PM   #20
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Answer: "You will not always, as you have your own life, and are responsible for it- I can't be everywhere, all the time."
Sounds good in theory, but it doesn't happen that way. Now with my granddaughter.

It happened to her. Wife and I were in Gillette, 80 miles away, Step daughter's boyfriend, was watching grandkids, gets drunk and suicidal. He loads the 4 kids into the truck and starts crashing into every thing in sight. GD gets her little brothers and sister out through the rear window of truck and flees with "sitter" who is staggering tries to catch them. GD takes her siblings to gas station and calls me. I'm heading for town but remember I'm 80 miles away. I tell her to call the police and in response I get is "no grandpa, please hurry".

What ended the situation was my wife grabbed the cell phone and tells GD "K****a, call the police, if you don't grandpa will end up in jail". That's the only way she could be convinced to call the police. All ended well, bad guy is still in jail.

Granted, its poor training on my part, she needs professional training, and now she is old enough, now comes the sales program to get Grandma, Step-Daughter and Granddaughter to agree to the ideal.
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Old December 30, 2011, 02:08 PM   #21
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One thing I would try to convey is that all the polite rules of society are out the window. Sometimes these things end up bad because the victim subconsciously thinks they can't "break the rules".
This is a key point by peetzakilla. People often have a really hard time recognizing that what is happening right now is an emergency and it's time to act using the rules of an emergency. I am a novice to firearms and a newcomer to this column but have often involved myself in emergencies and taken action or caused others to take action when they didn't seem to realize an emergency was taking place. In our normal lives we don't live close to the edge of disaster and acting as if things are an emergency seems like an embarrassing overreaction. It takes a conscious effort to counter that thinking.

So the most important thing you can do for someone at the other end of that call (beyond the practical help pax suggested), I think, is to give them the social permission to act like a genuine emergency is taking place.
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Old December 30, 2011, 02:11 PM   #22
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if no gun in the car. call 911 and leave the phone on the seat so you can have both ahnds to drive. if the follower begins to get aggressive. YOU be the aggressor. try to run HIM off the road. make him rear end you, put it in reverse anything. Not sure what kind of car she had, but this kind of behavior is not expected from a victim, and a car (any car) is a deadly weapon, especially once HE gets out of HIS car.
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Old December 30, 2011, 02:13 PM   #23
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So the most important thing you can do for someone at the other end of that call (beyond the practical help pax suggested), I think, is to give them the social permission to act like a genuine emergency is taking place.
That. That is a truly brilliant way to frame it. Thanks. (Mind if I steal that phrase?)

An article that might help: http://www.corneredcat.com/Dying_of_Embarrassment/

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Old December 30, 2011, 02:34 PM   #24
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pax, that is an excellent article and yes, feel free to use that phrase.
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Old December 30, 2011, 04:38 PM   #25
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Call 911 immediately, you never know where an off duty cop, or game warden, tax agent, whoever, will be on the roads and listening to his radio.

I would tell them to "air bag" him if he tried to run them off the road. By that I mean stand on the brakes and/or take the car out of gear and crank the parking brake on (brake lights don't come on, and the car behind you doesn't see it coming). This will often disable the other vehicle by deploying the airbags, destroying the radiator, and most cars have a fuel cutoff switch that is impact activated.

I would also tell them to get some sort of weapon out of the car, nail file, tire wrench, hair spray as makeshift pepper spray, whatever. Use it. Stab him in the eyeball wth a nail file. The gloves are off.
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