SANDY — Alone in her home in the middle of the night, Memorez Rackley told a police dispatcher that for about eight hours a man had been texting her, threatening her, following her and leaving her worried about her family's safety.
"He won't stop, and it's getting to the point that he has threatened me, he has threatened the safety of my children, and I just don't know what to do," Rackley said in the 2:30 a.m. phone call on June 3.
He also told her he had guns.
Asked who the man was, Rackley hesitated.
"What happens if I tell? Like, are they going to go find him? Because I worry that if they go knock on his door he's going to come hunt me and my kids down," Rackley replied.
The dispatcher told Rackley she could talk to an officer to decide how to proceed.
As she ended the call, the dispatcher provided instructions for Rackley as she prepared to talk to police, assuring her, "we're going to do everything we can to help you."
Three days later, Rackley and her 6-year-old son, Jase Rackley, were dead.
The mother and son were shot and killed on a sunny street near their home by 32-year-old Jeremy Patterson. Before turning the gun on himself, Patterson also shot Rackley's 9-year-old son, Myles, leaving him in critical condition, and wounded the 8-year-old daughter of a woman who tried to help the family.
According to police and witnesses, Patterson had gone to Rackley's neighborhood June 6 and confronted her as she walked her two youngest sons home from Brookwood Elementary School, prompting her to get into the SUV of a "good Samaritan."
When Patterson came back moments later, the SUV drove off with Patterson's pickup truck in pursuit, until Patterson rammed the vehicle and disabled it. He then jumped out of the truck, opening fire, before taking his own life.
The details of Rackley and Patterson's relationship, and why it apparently ended, are unclear. In threatening social media posts in the days leading up the attack, Patterson wrote that he loved Rackley but was upset the woman had kept their six-month relationship a secret. Rackley and her husband had quietly separated months prior to the shooting but continued living in close proximity and remained in close contact as they jointly raised their three sons.
A recording of Rackley's June 3 call reporting the beginning of Patterson's threats was released Tuesday as part of a records request to the Sandy Police Department.
According to a police report, Rackley initially declined to take action against Patterson, but police informed her how to seek a protective order, which she said she would do, and ordered extra patrols to check Rackley's neighborhood. When Rackley asked police to come to her house about a half-hour later when she thought she heard someone rattling a doorknob, the officer advised her to go to a friend's house for the night.
Rackley called again later on June 3, a Saturday, providing Patterson's name and phone number and asking police to contact him, explaining that Patterson had now followed a friend of hers home from work. Rackley said she intended to request a protective order "on Monday as soon as the courts were open."
Patterson told police he and Rackley had broken up the day before and he had tried to find Rackley to talk to her about it. When she hadn't answered, Patterson said he had become concerned, but told the officer he would stop contacting her.
The next time police heard from Rackley was in a 911 call just before Patterson shot her. Sandy police denied a request to release that recording, citing an ongoing police investigation, though Patterson died after shooting himself, leaving no one to face criminal charges for the attack.
Sandy Police Sgt. James Nielsen said the department receives calls on a daily basis reporting telephone harassment. In Rackley's troubling case, Nielsen said "hindsight is 20/20."
"You never know when something like this is going to happen," Nielsen said, calling the shooting the most tragic incident he and many other officers in the department have ever faced.
"Whatever anybody reports we take very serious. We're going to give them whatever options we can or what's available to them. We go based off of their wishes," Nielsen said. "If you are in a situation where you're fearful for your safety, contact us immediately, contact family members, reach out. Even if you don't want us involved in it, you can still talk to us. We can document things, we can still offer resources."
Nielsen said police intend to conduct a thorough investigation in order to provide answers to the families of Rackley and the woman who tried to help her get away from Patterson.
While police also declined to release a 911 call made by the unidentified woman — who is referred to publicly only as a "good Samaritan" who tried to help — citing privacy concerns, frantic calls from bystanders released Tuesday describe the violent scene.
"There's a shooter shooting children in the street," one woman reported.
"I witnessed a shooting," another explained. "A man was shooting at a woman and two children in a car."
"It just scared me to death," reported Natalie Hansen, who called police after she saw Patterson turn his pickup truck around in front of her house and tear off after the vehicle Rackley had gotten into. "I got his license plate … I don't know if you've gotten other calls about him."
As new details about the shootings were released Tuesday, Jeff White, a spokesman for the Rackley family, said 11-year-old Myles remained hospitalized but is continuing to improve from a single gunshot that struck him in the neck and exited cleanly near his jaw. The boy is gaining strength and talking, White said.
Meanwhile, the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition has emphasized the shocking deaths of Rackley and her kindergarten-age son highlight the need to connect those at risk of harm with vital safety information.
Jenn Oxborrow, executive director of Utah Domestic Violence Coalition, said for women and men who find themselves in the same position Rackley did, the first 72 hours after leaving or reporting an abuser are the most dangerous.
The way to keep them safe, she said, is to immediately connect them with trained service providers who know what steps to take to protect them.
"Very careful safety planning with a trained victim advocate is essential during that period of time, especially if the person has access to firearms and especially if they have been stalking someone," Oxborrow said.
Oxborrow noted that someone seeking help doesn't need to choose between calling police or calling the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition — they are best informed about protecting themselves if they call both.
Moving forward, Oxborrow said the coalition will continue working to establish programs like its Lethality Assessment Protocol — a list of 11 questions used by law enforcement to evaluate whether someone is at risk for violence from a romantic partner, as well as training about immediately connecting them with life-saving resources — in more areas of the state.
Oxborrow said the protocol, which is not currently used in Sandy, would have flagged Rackley as being in danger.
Nielsen notes that while Sandy police do not participate in the statewide program, the department has its own lethality assessment that has been in place since about 2009.
However, Sandy police's assessment would not have been used in Rackley's case, he said. Because Rackley and Peterson hadn't lived together, under Utah law they did not have a domestic relationship, Nielsen said, meaning Rackley's call to police was not viewed as a domestic dispute, only as telephone harassment.
According to Oxborrow, Sandy police have turned down invitations to implement the statewide program, but could still choose to join. Out of the state's 144 law enforcement agencies, training and formal coordination agreements have been made with 44 of them, Oxborrow said.
"So we're about a third of the way there," she said.
Help for people in abusive relationships can be found by contacting the YWCA's Women in Jeopardy program at 801-537-8600, or the statewide Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-897-LINK (5465).
Contributing: Andrew Adams