TAMPA, Fla. – A young mother called 911 from the trunk of a car before she was found slain in an abandoned home, police said.
Investigators are now using the eerie recording as they try to piece together what happened to Jennifer Johnson, 31.
Law enforcement officials declined to discuss details of the call, but Tampa police spokeswoman Laura McElroy called it "chilling and disturbing."
Johnson's family reported her missing a week ago when she failed to show up for a birthday party she'd planned for her 2-year-old daughter.
The night before, she was seen arguing with her ex-boyfriend at a Tampa nightclub, police said. The two were last seen at his parents' home around 3 a.m.
Four days later, police were called to an empty home in a quiet neighborhood in Lakeland, about 30 miles east of Tampa. A neighbor who had gone to check on the property looked through an open door and saw Johnson's body, said Jack Gillen, a spokesman with the Lakeland Police Department. He declined to say how Johnson died.
Investigators said her boyfriend, George Vincent Brown Jr., is a person of interest, but he has not been charged in her death. Brown turned himself in to police earlier this week and is being held without bond on a charge of violating his probation.
McElroy said he is not cooperating with the murder investigation. A court clerk said court documents did not name his attorney.
Johnson's 911 call was dispatched through the Plant City Police Department. The agency did not return messages left by The Associated Press, but Capt. Darrell Wilson told The Tampa Tribune the department had sent a unit to find Johnson.
"We did what we could," he said. "It was a broken-up call."
Over the past three years, Johnson contacted police on several occasions to report domestic abuse. In 2005, she said Brown had threatened to kill her, according to records provided by the Tampa Police Department.
"He also hit me several times with the gun," Johnson wrote in a statement given to police. "I just wanna solve this matter by keeping him far away from me."
The following year, she told police he'd punched her while she was five months pregnant. The case was closed after she declined to pursue criminal charges.