A calm voice on the other end of a telephone line kept Sheila Parkin huddled in the living room of her Millcreek home - hiding within inches of the burglar trying to steal her VCR.
Parkin called 911 last March when she heard someone break in through her basement window and climb the stairs to the darkened living room where she had been watching TV. "My first thought was, `I've got to call 911.' "Crystle Newbold, sheriff's dispatcher, answered her call. "I just played it by ear. I told her to stay on the phone with me because as long as she was on the phone, I knew she was OK."
The two women's whispered conversation was played again last week when "Rescue 911" producers and camera crews recreated the attempted burglary for nationwide broadcast in December.
The call turned critical as the burglar entered the room where Parkin was hiding. Parkin wedged herself between a table and the sofa, draped an afghan over her body and whispered to Newbold to hurry. "I thought, `I'll just try to be as quiet as I can for as long as I can and hope the 911 woman won't talk to me,"' she said.
The burglar first reached over her bent legs to the entertainment cabinet and tried to yank the VCR from its cables. When the VCR wouldn't come loose, he went into a nearby bedroom and rifled through Parkin's jewelry box.
Newbold listened to Parkin describe the burglar's location in her home while simultaneously directing Salt Lake County Sheriff's deputies to the house. "I didn't realize he was just inches away from her or that he had a knife," Newbold said.
Parkin is just glad her call was answered: "Without 911, I don't know what I would have done. I know I was breathing pretty heavily. I'm amazed he didn't hear me."
The phone turned into a two-way radio as Parkin directed the deputies through Newbold. "She was a terrific complainant," Newbold said. "She stayed on the phone and answered all my questions."
As the man unlocked a side door to leave with the pillowcase he'd filled, deputies were waiting and told him to stop. He dropped the pillowcase and re-entered the house. He passed Parkin again as he plunged through her living room window in an effort to escape. Deputies finally surrounded the man in the front yard.
Newbold said the call was unusual, but "most of it's common sense and on-the-job training."