PATERSON, N.J. – "My mommy got hit," the tiny voice on the other end of the 911 call (search) said. The girl said her mommy was in the bathroom and wasn't breathing.
A dispatcher kept the girl on the line as long as she could, but the child finally hung up after five minutes, saying she was tired. Authorities could not immediately trace the call — made from a cell phone — and have run into a series of dead-ends in their search for the girl.
"The worst-case scenario is there's a 4-year-old girl home alone and her mother is injured," said Paterson (search) police Capt. Danny Nichols.
The department's entire 22-member detective squad was working on the case Thursday. Having exhausted numerous leads, including tips from well-meaning callers from as far away as Pennsylvania and Florida, investigators were working with cell phone providers to try to determine the number of the phone, and the person to whom it was registered.
"We've had 50 to 60 phone calls with all different types of information," said Detective Lt. Donald Giaquinto. "We've even had a psychic call."
Detectives believe the call was legitimate and not a prank.
The call came in at 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. The dispatcher asked the girl for identifying information, such as where she goes to school, and what her teacher's name is.
The girl said she is 4 years old, her name is Jessica, and that she lives on the first floor of a white house near a candy store, but didn't know the name of the shop. She said she goes to either school or day care, and her teacher's name is Miss Winter.
Police checked with the Paterson school system, as well as local day care outlets, but none had a teacher with a first or last name even close, Murray said. The girl might not even attend school in Paterson, so surrounding districts were also being questioned, police said.
The girl told the dispatcher she lives at 150 Sparrow St., but no such address exists. Police visited every house on the street, as well as several others that might sound similar to a child, but no one knew about anything amiss.
Carlos Roman, who was washing his car on Sparrow Street on Thursday morning, said no one in the area knows of a 4-year-old girl, let alone one named Jessica.
Murray said no one has filed a missing persons report that might correspond to the girl or her mother; local hospitals also have been checked, to no avail.
The dispatcher repeatedly asked the girl to stay on the line until police arrived at her door, at one point even asking her to sing the alphabet to keep her talking.
Shortly after the girl sang the A-B-C song, the line clicked dead.