A hotel room murder in Marshall, Texas may lead to a change in how phone systems work if one grieving parent has his way.
“I want to see a regulation that every phone in this country dials 911 if you hit 911,” said Hank Hunt, the father of the victim.
The issue is in the spotlight following the death of Hunt’s daughter, 31-year-old Kari Rene Dunn, who was slashed and stabbed to death, according to police. Dunn’s 9-year-old daughter was a witness to the murder and tried repeatedly to call 911 from their hotel room, but could not reach dispatchers.
“It was a problem because the child did not know how to dial to get to an outside line,” said Lt. Patrick Clayton with the Marshall Police Department.
Clayton said Dunn’s husband was subsequently arrested for the December 1 crime which occurred at the Baymont Inn & Suites in the town of about 23,500.
Brad Allen Dunn, 35, is in jail and charged with murder.
Dunn’s three children, ages 3, 4, and 9, witnessed the crime, according to Dunn’s father.
“I do know whatever he did, he did in front of the children,” Hank Hunt said.
Hunt said his daughter was planning to divorce her husband and had brought the children to the hotel so the kids could go shopping with their father.
At the hotel, Local 2 confirmed guests must first dial ‘9’ to reach an outside line, even for 911 calls. Forty-five days after the crime, the same system was in place.
Hunt and others argue that children trying to make an emergency call don’t realize the necessity for the extra digit.
“She just did not know to dial that ‘9’ first. The adults of the world have let her down. She did what she was taught to do and it didn't work,” Hunt said.
Hunt is undertaking an effort to ensure the problem is remedied. Some hotels, schools, and offices, particularly those with older phone systems, require the extra ‘9.’
“Dialing 911 should always get you an emergency dispatcher,” Hunt said.
Hank’s petition to adopt “Kari’s Law” can be found at here: http://www.change.org/karislaw
The movement is gaining traction. The FCC is already taking a closer look at the issue, sending an inquiry letter to top hotel chains.