ORONO, Maine — Penobscot Regional Communications Center dispatcher Betty Stone took the 911 call made by Old Town resident Christopher Ouellette and spent 46 minutes trying to convince him to release his two young children to Old Town police Sgt. Michael Hashey and Detective James Slauenwhite just outside the door.
“He was crying. Upset. ‘What have I done,’” Jim Ryan, executive director of the Bangor-based dispatch center, said of the 911 call handled by Stone. “It hit home with her.”
“Something like this is tough on everybody,” said Stone’s husband, Peter Stone, a deputy with the Penobscot County Sheriff’s Office.
Haskell was stabbed in the neck and died in the Middle Street apartment she shared with Ouellette and her two youngest children. Ouellette released the children to safety and later was shot and killed by a state trooper. Tracey Haskell of Orono, the children’s aunt, since has become their guardian.
Domestic violence calls involving children are the toughest, and are especially hard when “we see the hurt, the filth, the carnage and have to pack up and go on,” state police Trooper Tucker Bonnevie said recently.
Domestic violence reaches well beyond the family, said the Rev. Roger Davis, chaplain for the Brewer Police Department and Maine State Police.
“It definitely has ripple effects throughout the community,” he said, listing the family, loved ones, law enforcement, friends and neighbors as parties that feel the effects and second guess their actions.
Stone handled the stress by giving back to the family most affected by the tragedy, Ryan said. Each year, the dispatch center selects a family to receive secret Santa gifts and this year gave presents to the orphaned children, as well as five others who live in the Haskell household. Businesses from all around the region supported the effort.
“Betty did all the shopping and all the wrapping.” Ryan said as he carried Christmas gifts into the Orono home with assistance from state police, Orono and Old Town police, and the sheriff’s office. “I wanted all the agencies involved to be here.”
“We don’t want them to remember [the previous meeting with responders at the scene] — we want them to remember this,” Bonnevie said after dropping off a bag full of wrapped items.
At the end of the short holiday gathering, Aidyn, the 5-year-old son of April Haskell, went around and gave each visiting person a piece of chocolate candy.