OLDSMAR, Fla. (WFLA) – It’s been exactly seven weeks since an Oldsmar mother lost her daughter in an apparent murder-suicide. 8 On Your Side investigates why she’s still waiting for answers.
“I would never call 911 unless my life was in danger,” said Lenore Lawrow, the victim’s mother.
Lawrow has asked 8 On Your Side to not disclose her daughter’s identity.
The woman was found dead a day after she called 911 for help. Lawrow tells 8 On Your Side she still has not heard the 911 call.
8 On Your Side Investigates also requested a copy of the 911 call.
A spokesman from the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office says the 911 call cannot be released because the case is still open.
Detectives don’t typically close a case until they have the toxicology reports. The Medical Examiner’s Office released the reports last week but the incident is still under investigation.
The two bodies were discovered June 4th inside a condominium on the 100 block of Pine Court.
Detectives believe Lawrow’s daughter was shot and killed by her new boyfriend Dr. Benjamin First.
According to an autopsy report, there was a 911 hang-up call from the victim’s phone shortly before 11 p.m. on June 3rd.
Two Pinellas County deputies immediately responded to the scene.
According to the department, the deputies spent more than an hour on scene trying to make contact.
They called the victim’s phone. They knocked on the door. They watched the windows. Deputies say when they had no response and saw nothing suspicious, they left.
“Your worst fear is that she was alive and they didn’t get to her?” asked investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi. “Could have been alive, yes,” said Lawrow.
The department says the response was appropriate. They say the facts and the law did not allow them to break down the door of a private residence. They say that would be a violation of the 4th Amendment.
8 On Your Side Investigates discussed this case with former prosecutor Steven Capriati. Capriati handled domestic violence cases for more than five years in Hillsborough County.
“It’s a case-by-case basis,” said Capriati.
“You have the greatest expectation of privacy when you’re in your home so, the police cannot just enter because someone called.”
Capriati says deputies could break into a home if they independently observe signs that someone is in danger at the scene. Since we know that did not happen here, the next question is how important is the content of that 911 call.
According to Capriati, it would be difficult for police to break down doors solely based on a call.
“We haven’t heard the 911 call yet,” said investigative reporter Mahsa Saeidi, “but it sounds like it doesn’t matter at this point?”
“Well, it does matter,” said Capriati.
“You can make the argument that a 911 call alone is sufficient to be able to gain entry if what you see when you arrive on scene supports and corroborates what the 911 caller is saying,” he said.
For example, if there’s silence once officers get to the scene, the caller would have had to explain she would be staying quiet out of fear.
Again, 8 On Your Side Investigates and the victim’s family have not heard the 911 call.
Right now, it’s still too early to say whether deputies could have justified entering the condo under any circumstance. However, when you’re looking at their conduct, the content of the 911 call is an important part of the equation.
8 On Your Side Investigates will continue to follow this story.