Faria Murder: 911 operator speaks out for the first time

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TROY, MO (KTVI)-- Prosecutors say a 911 call was an act.  It`s a call from convicted murderer Russ Faria, reporting his wife killed herself.  A jury later convicted Faria for stabbing his wife 55 times and leaving a steak knife in her neck.  Now the 911 operator who took the call, is speaking out.

Prosecutors narrowed in on the 911 call as what they called an example of Russ Faria`s evil nature.  They called to the stand a 911 supervisor who testified Faria`s call was strange.  But the supervisor did not take the call.  We tracked down the 911 operator who answered the call.  Her story is one the jury did not hear.

Russ Faria began his call to 911 sobbing.  The operator asked, "What`s the address?"

Faria stuttered in response, "1-1-1-130 sumac."

Former 911 operator Tammy Vaughn picked up that call.   She immediately knew it might be her toughest.  Vaughn said, "I could hardly take the call, because I looked over at my supervisor and I did one of those, 'I don`t know if I can do this.'"

Vaughn continued the entire ten minute call.   She did what she says she`s trained to do, get Faria to answer questions about his dead wife Betsy.

Russ was screaming when Vaughn asked, "How long were you gone today?"  Faria answered, "I left around five and I just got back.  She was at her Mom`s and her friend was bringing her back and I don`t know when she got home."

In court, a 911 supervisor testified that it was unusual the way Faria went in and out of his hysteria.  The defense objected, but the judge overruled it and the jury was led to believe that even 911 operators thought the call was odd.  But the prosecution never called the actual 911 operator, Tammy Vaughn, who says she never questioned the call.

Vaughn said, "You can`t fake that.  You can`t fake that emotion. In my personal opinion you can`t.  Are there are people out there who can do it? I don`t know because all the calls I have taken have been true, hysterical callers."

Vaughn says 911 operators are expected to get hysterical callers to answer questions.  She explained, "It`s a redirection.  It`s a technique that communicators use to try to redirect, calm them down.  Ask him the question and then whenever they have to focus back on the victim or the patient the person that`s there that`s needing the help, then they do what`s called a re-freak."

It happened repeatedly on the Faria call.

Once when Faria was screaming, Vaughn asked him, "Has she been depressed lately?"  Faria responded, "She`s got, she`s got, she`s got cancer."  Vaughn kept engaging him when she said, "I need you to get those medications for me."  Faria answered, "I think they`re here on the table."

Then in another twist, Vaughn discovered something the following week.  She told us, "I later on learned that I knew them.  At the time I took the call I had no idea who it was and then later on I realized that it was a couple that I went to church with."

She can now see them standing side by side in her mind and she cannot forget one particular phrase she heard during Russ Faria`s call.
He cried, "What am I gonna do?"

When she heard that, she says she thought she might not last.  Instead, she held on with him until police arrived.

Even though Russ Faria gave his full name at the beginning of that call, Vaughn said she didn`t put it together at that time that she knew him.  She said she didn`t know him well, rather only in passing at church.

Related Stories:

Daughters of murdered woman suing family friend for insurance proceeds

Fox Files Special Report: The Faria Murder

Fox Files Special Report: The Faria Murder (Part 2)

Fox Files Special Report: The Faria Murder (Part 3)

Secret court evidence revealed in Faria murder case

Man sentenced to life for stabbing wife 55 times

Fox Files reveals more secret evidence in stabbing murder

Inside murder trial of man accused of stabbing wife 55 times

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2 comments

  • Tammy Delbruegge

    911 operators are not investigators. the few times i have called 911, i get so irritated at the questions…they need to know the address, the nature of the problem and are there any concerns for the responders safety (ie, dogs, weapons). that is it! It is a waste of time for the operator to ask if the injured/dead/person-in-need was depressed or how long they’ve been home…if someone is down and needs help, my name is even insignificant. what exactly is the purpose of 911? to get help to people or to interrogate callers?

    • ...

      They ask those questions to distract the person from being hysterical. So it’s just to protect the person’s sanity. Maybe it should be appreciated.

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