Location: Salt Lake City, Utah
Date: March 18, 1992
Sheila Parkin of Salt Lake City, Utah, was home alone on the evening of March 18, 1992, while her husband visited his brother a few blocks away. She was upstairs watching television in a back room when the doorbell rang. Since she had turned off all the lights, she walked through the dark to the front of the house. She peered through the window blinds because she wasn't expecting visitors and didn't want to open the door. She didn't see anyone and, feeling uneasy, locked the side door's deadbolt and went back upstairs.
Sheila turned off the light in the television room and resumed watching TV. Suddenly, she heard the sound of her basement window breaking. She turned off the television and dialed 911.
Dispatcher Crystal Newbold answered Sheila's call. In a hushed, frightened tone, she reported that someone had broken into her house and was in the basement. Immediately, units from the Salt Lake County Sheriff's Department were dispatched. As Sheila reported the intruder's movements to Newbold, she relayed Sheila's information to sheriff's deputies who were en route to her house.
Newbold was also concerned because Sheila sounded so petrified she was almost hyperventilating. She said she couldn't talk because she heard the intruder coming up the stairs. Taking the phone with her, she crouched on the floor between the couch and the VCR cabinet, pulling a blanket over herself. Newbold continued to ask questions and told her to answer with a yes or a no.
The intruder entered the room and shining his flashlight around, passing it over the blanket and stopping on the VCR, just eight inches away. Sheila was sure she was a dead woman. She was sitting on the VCR's wires, and could feel them tighten under her as the intruder tried to remove it from it cabinet. Unable to free it, he left the room. Sheila whispered to Newbold that she could now hear him taking jewelry from her bedroom.
Sheriff's Deputy Paul Barker was the first to arrive on the scene. He parked down the street to avoid being seen and hurried to the house. "Is there a flagpole in front?" Barker radioed Newbold. "Is there a flagpole in front?" Newbold asked Sheila. "Yes," answered Sheila, and Newbold radioed confirmation back to Barker.
Within seconds, Deputy Mark Wooten and Corporal Allen Spencer arrived. It was decided Barker would go around the back of the house and the others would cover the front. Barker was concerned that if the intruder did anything to Sheila, it would take a minute before the deputies could get into the house.
Sheila told Newbold she could hear the intruder leaving through the side door. Newbold radioed to the officers. Barker ran to the side door and stood in position with his gun drawn. When the intruder stepped outside with a pillowcase filled with stolen goods, Barker confronted him. "Sheriff's Department!" Freeze!" he shouted. The shocked intruder dropped the pillowcase load and ran back inside, with Barker in pursuit. A moment later, he crashed through the living room picture window and landed facedown in broken glass directly in front of two officers. Barker ran out the front door and handcuffed him. Spencer and Wooten went inside to check on Sheila. They found her hiding under the blanket, unharmed, and still on the phone with Newbold.
The suspect was taken into custody and found guilty of two felonies. He was sentenced to five years in prison. Shortly after the robbery, Sheila met Newbold for the first time. She had wanted to thank her with a hug. It was a happy and emotional encounter for both of them. "I feel close to her even though I don't know her," says Sheila. "I depended on her for my life. I don't know what I would have done without her." "Meeting her was like the end," says Newbold tearfully. "Like the closing of a book, and I know she'll go on and do great."