Police Release 911 Recording of Murder-Suicide

911-emergencyThe Davis Police have released a copy of the 911 recording of the murder-suicide call, regarding the incident where Joseph Hein shot himself and roommate Whitney Engler at their home on Glacier Drive.  As it turned out Mr. Hein was calmly explaining to the dispatcher what he himself had done and what was about to do.

Listen here: WS700788

Dispatch: Davis 911 emergency

Hein: Hi there. I need an ambulance and a squad car at 2210 Glacier Drive, Davis, California

Dispatch: What’s going on?

Hein: There’s two gunshot victims, a 27-year-old female and a 23-year-old male

Dispatch: Who had the gun?

Hein: The 23-year-old male

Dispatch: And do you know who they are?

Hein: yup — they live there.

Dispatch: OK. Are they alive?

Hein: No, I don’t believe so

Dispatch: And who are you?

Hein: My name is Joseph

Dispatch: And how did you find out about this, Joseph?

Hein: Uh, I just walked in on it. But that’s all I can say now. But uh, send that ASAP — we’re less than a mile away from Sutter Davis

Dispatch: OK. Can you stay on scene, Joseph, until I get officers and an ambulance out there?

Hein: I will be on scene

Dispatch: And how did you get the information that they were there again?

Hein: I have to go now. Sorry. Goodbye

Dispatch: OK, could I get your callback number?

At this point the call disconnects.

Assistant Chief Darren Pytel told the Vanguard last week that shots were heard prior to the arrival of police on the scene. The coroner found that the individuals would have died immediately.

Pytel told the Vanguard that, after looking at the evidence, it is his belief that Mr. Hein took his life shortly after placing the 911 call.  “At the time we were out there, no – not until the door was breached and there was no response at all.”

Mr. Pytel said he found the call “alarming.”  He said, “the calm, matter of fact tone, the reference to being close to Sutter Davis Hospital (alive people need a hospital, not dead people), asking for an ambulance (again, alive people who need help need an ambulance), get here ASAP with a squad car, yes I’ll be on scene. All these made it seem like he was alive on scene and waiting.”

During our interview last week, Darren Pytel said that the police immediately believed the call was credible.  He elaborated this morning, “The very matter of fact, stoic voice, plus details.”

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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  1. Davis Progressive

    very unsettling call.  no feeling.  it’s like he was describing a movie or the weather.  clearly the guy had given up hope.  it was just empty.  devoid of feeling.  there was no anger or hatred.  cold blood comes to mind.

    1. hpierce

      Worked a suicide prevention hotline in the Bay Area many years ago.  That “detached” tone was one we were taught to ‘watch out for’… greatly increased our assessment of ‘lethality’.  I presume, based on the high level of training of Davis PD, particularly dispatchers, and what PD has shared, they knew of the possibilities, and rightly acted on that ‘suspicion’.  They couldn’t act on it as ‘fact’ but it appears it was in their ‘calculus’.  Davis PD handled the situation, as they knew it, pretty damn well. [IMHO]

  2. Frankly

    I read that the 23 year old male was a helicopter pilot.  Most helicopter pilots get their training from the military.  At that age it is unlikely that he would have seen combat (assuming he had been in the armed service), but I wonder if there is a PSD connection (again, assuming he was in the military at some point).

    Also, I have read that veterinarians have a suicide rate that is 4-times the general population.  Is is possible that the female victim took her own life and then the male followed taking his own life?  Given the lack of distress in his voice, it does not seem likely that this is the case.

    Lastly, could this have been a joint decision that they both made… to end their lives together in this way?

    This tragedy is more than unsettling and weird.  I hope there are more answers coming forward.

  3. PhilColeman

    Having direct on-scene involvement in possibly a dozen murder/suicides before, I’ve never seen an instance where the assailant called the police before taking a life. Very strange.

  4. Tia Will

    Of interest from the medical perspective is his lack of definitive answer to the question are they alive which he qualifies by “I don’t believe so” and his mention of the nearness of the hospital. I cannot help but wonder if he was certain that she was dead. If he was certain, why the request for an urgent response ?

    1. PhilColeman

      Tia, the roommate, the one real victim in this tragedy, sustained two gunshots to the head and one to the chest. The multiple head wounds alone probably left no possible visual doubt on her condition.

      To me, the more enticing medical analysis is the cool, measured, and composed tone and structure of the shooter’s voice on the phone. That would be fertile ground for psychological/psychiatric examination all by itself. Working well out of my job classification here, but the whole scenario suggests the entire incident was calculated from the very beginning. Very, very, strange case.

      1. Tia Will

        Hi Phil

        I do not doubt that this is true that a direct visual of the victim’s head would have doubtless told the story. My point is, at what point did the police get that direct visualization so that they knew for sure. They certainly did not know at the time of the call. The issue for me is delay in verification, since, I was certainly the case, Joseph was providing confusing and deceptive information at best.


        1. hpierce

          “…. at what point did the police get that direct visualization so that they knew for sure.”  Probably ~ 2 seconds after they found the bodies.

  5. tribeUSA

    How did they confirm that it was indeed Hein’s voice? Was the audio quality sufficiently good that friends/relatives could immediately recognize the voice as his?

  6. tribeUSA

    Interesting he chose to identify himself by the name Joseph:


    The name Joseph comes from the verb יסף (yasap) meaning to add, increase, or repeat:

    Abarim Publications Theological Dictionary
    The verb יסף (yasap) means to add, increase or do again. This verb is the common word to use when something is simply added, such as a son for Rachel (Genesis 30:24; hence the name Joseph), or a fifth to a certain value (Leviticus 27:13), or fifteen years to a life (Isaiah 38:5).

    But it’s also quite commonly used to mean repeat, such as marrying again (Genesis 25:1), or doing something on top of something else, “also,” such as hardening one’s heart on top of sinning again (Exodus 9:34), or praise some and then praise some more (Psalm 71:14).

  7. TrueBlueDevil

    Did he have a secret crush on her? I have read nothing about his life… is there a link to more information about him? Social, dating, normal?

    1. Topcat

      One thing I have not seen any comments on:  When I went by the house a couple days after the incident I noticed what appeared to be a bullet hole in the garage door. The way the metal was bent the shot came from outside. I have seen nothing to explain this bullet hole.

        1. hpierce

          Why do you question the observation?

          How often have you seen apparent bullet holes in garage doors? Yeah, lots of apparent bullet holes in garage doors throughout Davis. Happens all the time…

        2. hpierce

          Not true, David… you questioned the possible pertinence of the observation, by asking, “How do ou [sic] know it wasn’t [sic] there previously?”  A simple “I/we don’t know” would have been a more straightforward/honest response.

        3. hpierce

          Perhaps David, you could have been a little slower, thoughtful, and measured.  I say that as a constructive comment, as I have not always followed that advice.

          1. David Greenwald

            In hindsight – absolutely. At the time, I didn’t intend anything by my comment and therefore it didn’t really occur to me.

  8. davisite4

    Other people have said that they think his voice sounds flat, emotionless.  He actually sounds a bit upbeat to me — which is all the weirder and creepier.  Am I the only one who hears it that way?

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