Denise Amber Lee case: When 911 fails
Jennifer Johnson isn't the only Florida resident to call 911 while being kidnapped. She shares an unfortunate, yet similar fate with Denise Amber Lee. Denise Amber Lee was kidnapped on January 17, 2008 from her home in North Port. Denise was 21 years and the mother of two sons, Noah and Adam.
January 17, 2008 started as any other day. Her husband, Nathan, left for work, and Denise, a stay at home mom, was left home with the children. She last spoke to her husband at approximately 11:00 A.M., yet that wasn’t the last phone conversation that Denise Amber Lee participated in that day. Unfortunately, it wasn’t with her husband. Nathan had continually tried to reach Denise Amber Lee, calling her several times at approximately 3:00 P.M. He would never speak with her again.
When Nathan Lee arrived home from work at 3:30 P.M., he found both Noah and Adam home alone, yet there was no sign of Denise. Searching the home, Nathan found Denise’s purse and her cell phone; he called 911. This would be the first 911 call made in the Denise Amber Lee case.
In what seems to be little more than a miracle, Denise Amber Lee managed to obtain her kidnapper’s cell phone. She called 911 at approximately 6:14 P.M. and managed to stay on the phone for nearly six and a half minutes. Denise’s wasn’t the last 911-phone call to be made that fateful day.
A neighbor of Denise Amber Lee’s saw a green Camaro drive up and down their street. At approximately 2:30 P.M., she reported seeing that same green Camaro pull into the driveway of Denise Amber Lee’s home. When Denise Amber Lee called 911, they were able to determine that the cell phone she used belonged to Michael Lee King. When police discovered the name of the kidnapper, they went to his residence, however there was no sign of Michael or Denise, yet they did find a piece of duct tape that still had long strands of brown hair attached to it. Then, Michael Lee King did a very disturbing thing. He went to his cousin’s home.
Michael King arrived at his cousin’s home, Harold Muxlow, and asked to borrow two items: a can of gasoline and a shovel. While there, Harold saw Denise Amber Lee in the back seat of the green Camaro, struggling and pleading for help. She screamed for Harold to call police, he didn’t and Michael Lee King drove away with a shovel, a gas can, and a panicked Denise Amber Lee, who was still screaming and begging for her life. Harold Muxlow did, however, tell his 17-year-old daughter about what he had seen, and Sabrina Muxlow decided to call 911. The call was received at approximately 6:23 P.M.
There was one more 911 call to be made on behalf of Denise Amber Lee, that fateful night of January 17, 2008. A Tampa based computer consultant, Jane Kowalski, just happened to have her window rolled down while driving U.S. 41 that evening. She happened to stop at a red light, where Michael Lee King pulled his camaro alongside hers. She heard loud noises coming from the car, and was startled to hear the screams of the passenger in the back seat of the car. Jane Kowalski witnessed Denise Amber Lee’s last cries for help. She looked at her and thought that she was a child, however, she did look directly at Michael Lee King and called 911 somewhere between 6:30 and 6:40 P.M.
Due to a dispatcher mix-up, the report of Jane’s 911 call was never relayed to officers who were currently in the area, searching for Denise Amber Lee. Police in the area never knew that the camaro was in their vicinity, even though they were utilizing a helicopter search, dog search, and ground search. The question remains today, “Would Denise Amber Lee have been saved, if the 911 dispatchers notified the police to look for the camaro?” Denise Amber Lee’s body was located nude and in the fetal position within three miles of the very spot where Janet Kowalski made the final 911 call. Denise Amber Lee had been sexually assaulted and shot in the head.
Michael Lee King is currently awaiting trial that is scheduled to begin in August 2009. His defense attorney is trying to have evidence against him dismissed by stating that it was legally obtained. Click to read more about the case against Michael Lee King.
Denise Amber Lee's husband, Nathan, speaks with Dr. Phil regarding the 911 call.