Internet call system hindered police search in Appalachia

Mike Still • Sep 10, 2019 at 9:11 AM

APPALACHIA — An internet-based call system hindered police attempts to find a man threatening to kill his girlfriend on Sunday.

Wise County Sheriff’s investigators are still trying to find if the calls to county dispatch are connected to the discovery of a dead man in the Inman Village complex in Appalachia.

According to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office on Monday, the caller told a dispatcher he was going to kill his girlfriend at Inman Village and he also threatened to harm law enforcement before giving a 30-minute countdown before he killed the female.

County investigators and U.S. Marshals were able to get a callback number despite the calls routing through the internet system. Investigators tried to call the man several times, getting sporadic answers and little information. That led to a five-hour search of the apartment complex until about 6 a.m. on Sunday.

Although officers heard a single gunshot during the search, no shooter or anyone injured was found, according to the statement. Two men were arrested on outstanding warrants unrelated to the calls.

About four hours later, dispatchers got the report of the body, and authorities said the man appeared to have died from a gunshot wound.

A small-caliber pistol was recovered at the man’s apartment and appeared to have been fired at least once. The body has been sent to the state medical examiner’s office in Roanoke for an autopsy.

Sheriff’s Col Grant Kilgore on Sunday said that several electronic devices were recovered after the body was found and that the U.S. Marshal’s Service was working on getting search warrants to examine them. Kilgore declined to say what the devices were.

The victim’s name is being withheld as the investigation continues. Anyone with more information on the caller or shooting is asked to call the Wise County Sheriff’s Office at (276) 328-3756.

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