Mother breathless, upset on tape of 911 call made night of disappearance
LEESBURG - Panic, confusion and weeping are heard on the 911 call made to police when 2-year-old Trenton Duckett was discovered to be missing on Aug. 27.
The first voice Leesburg Police Department's 911 operator hears that evening belongs to a man.
"Melinda Duckett's son is missing," the man says. "Hold on one second. I have to find the address. Melinda?"
The operator asks the man, who sounds distracted, how old Trenton Duckett is.
"Three years old. No. One. Two. Three," the man says. "Um. He was in (his) room. I came over and was watching a movie. He was in his bed, I guess, sleeping.
"We checked on … He's not there."
The operator asks the man to spell "Duckett," what Trenton is wearing and where Melinda Duckett is.
"I don't know (what Trenton is wearing)," he says. "I'm trying to find her. She's out trying to find him."
Trenton is wearing "sleeping clothes," the man says.
About halfway through the four-minute, 13-second tape released by police Saturday at the request of media, Melinda Duckett gets on the line, sounding breathless at times, panicky and disorientated.
The operator asks Melinda Duckett what her son is wearing.
"I don't know. He was ready for bed," Duckett says. Trenton has "his shirt off. Um. No shoes."
Her voice is labored and she breathes heavy into the telephone. Her voice changes abruptly and becomes emphatic and angry sounding.
"I know who fricking did it," she says.
The operator again asks what Trenton is wearing.
Duckett says "a pair of jean shorts. He's 3 years old. Ah."
"And how long has he been gone," the operator asks.
Her voice turns to a near whisper as if she's crying: "I don't know."
"I was … watching a movie that was two hours long, and I had checked on him before … (someone) came down to the house," Duckett says.
"Has he ever done this before," the operator asks.
"Has he ever done what before?" Melinda Duckett says, sounding almost startled at the question.
A moment later, the operator says: "Is there a back way out of the house?"
The response is garbled: "I'm …(I) went outside."
The operator then seems to answer a question from someone on another line or in the room. The other voice can not be heard on the 911 tape. "She … The last time she checked. It was two hours,"
"Are you at the house right now, Melinda?" the operator asks.
In a desperate and exasperated tone, Duckett says: "Yes!"
"Okay. Alrighty. Stay at the house. I'm gonna have officers right there to you," the operator says.
Duckett is heard breathing hard again as if she's weeping.
"Okay?" the operator says again. Duckett is heard muttering affirmatively.
Tape, note reveal little
Melinda Duckett's last words in note have no info about Trenton
LEESBURG - Joshua Duckett said he was surprised at the lack of detail in his estranged wife's apparent suicide note.
"Normally she's very detailed," Josh Duckett said of Melinda Duckett, who died Sept. 8 of an apparently self-inflicted shotgun wound in her grandparents' home in The Villages.
"As far as what's in the letter, it doesn't shock me," he said.
Duckett said he plans on focusing on the search for his 2-year-old son, Trenton, who was reported missing Aug. 27 by his mother Melinda Duckett at her Leesburg apartment.
Leesburg police released a note from Melinda Duckett that she left on the dashboard of her car the day she died.
In the letter addressed to the "public," Melinda Duckett blamed media pressure for the stress that led to her apparent suicide. She also fondly mentioned her son.
"Your focus came off of my son," Duckett said in the unsigned two-page letter. "I love him and only wanted him safe in my arms.
"You created rumors and twisted words. Usually I am strong and what others say does not affect me. However I am young, have worked my arse off and still being faced with ridicule and criticism."
Duckett showed little emotion publicly in the days following her son's reported abduction, and criticized media reports for implying her calm demeanor may have implicated her.
"I only wish you do not push anyone else," she said in her note. "I do not bleed my emotions to the public and throughout this situation you did not understand that. There were many more errors you made in understanding me, but time is short and I have more important people to speak to."
Duckett said her focus during the investigation was always on finding Trenton.
"This (writing the note) is a last minute idea, but I have felt myself sinking after 1 week mark of Trent being gone," she said. "I love him dearly and he is all I was breathing for. He was and always will be my essence and as he grows, I want him to know that."
Duckett said she hopes people come to understand her better.
"I have refrained from any negative comments in the hopes that individuals will realize their wrong doings, Thank you for your time."
Joshua Duckett said he had no clue as to Melinda's mental condition, having not seen her for about eight months.
"I don't know what was going through her head," he said.
Duckett also blamed Florida's Department of Children and Families for failing to grant him custody of Trenton or putting the boy in protective custody in a dispute with Melinda Duckett.
"If they had done their job, none of this would have happened," he said.
Joshua Duckett refrained from criticizing Melinda Duckett at a press conference Saturday afternoon at the Leesburg Police Station.
"I'm not going to smash her here," he said.