Police Tape Woman's Dying Gasps; Stepdaughter, 2 Others ArrestedAP , Associated Press
Feb. 20, 1986 7:34 PM ET
MIAMI (AP) _ A teen-age girl, her boyfriend and his cousin were arrested in the strangulation of the girl's stepmother, whose hysterical, dying screams were heard over the 911 emergency telephone line, police said Thursday.
Estelle Arwood, 18, was denied bond Thursday after she was arrested on an anonymous tip in the strangulation of Vaughn Mitchell Robinson, who was found dead in her home Wednesday by police officers who rushed to answer her call but arrived moments too late, said police spokesman Angelo Bitsis.
Ms. Arwood, who is white, had quarreled with her stepmother about dating the black youth who was arrested in the slaying, said Detective Karl Robins.
''The girl's family did not approve of the interracial relationship,'' Detective Karl Robins said. ''They were fighting about it.''
Ms. Arwood admitted her involvement in the killing, Bitsis said.
''We confronted the stepdaughter and at that point she admitted plotting the murder with her boyfriend and his cousin,'' Bitsis said.
Bitsis said the trio also planned to kill the girl's father, Frank Arwood, owner of a Miami produce company. The boys' names weren't released because they are juveniles.
Robins said the stunned father told detectives there had been no indication his daughter felt that strongly about their objections to her boyfriend.
Mrs. Robinson called police at 8:20 a.m. Wednesday and screamed over the telephone that an intruder was in her house.
''There was a lot of screaming. She said she needed help. There was a black male in the house. He was coming after her,'' said police spokesman Reginald Roundtree. ''She was hysterical.''
''He was assaulting her. She was unable to speak,'' he said. ''You could hear the woman choking and gasping for breath, then there was silence.''
''Then somebody - we think it was the killer - said something, then hung up the phone,'' Roundtree said. The person said: ''There's nothing wrong. I was just kidding.''
The woman's telephone call so alarmed police clerk Cynthia Carter that she bypassed normal office rules, running for a dispatcher to send an officer out before entering the call into her computer terminal. Police officers arrived at the home four minutes later and found the woman dead.
After the telephone tip, detectives confronted Ms. Arwood on Wednesday evening. She broke down and confessed to kill her father and stepmother, police said.
''They said were going to take the insurance money and run off together,'' Bitsis said.
Ms. Arwood let the two youths in the house about 4 a.m. Wednesday and hid them, Bitsis said. The attack took place after everyone else in the family left for school or work.
All three were charged with first-degree murder and conspiracy. Ms. Arwood was held Thursday in the Women's Detention Center, while her boyfriend and his cousin were being held at the county Youth Hall. Police said the state attorney's office will decide whether the boys should be tried as adults.
Circuit Court Judge Meek Robinette on Thursday denied bond for Ms. Arwood in a hearing that took less than a minute.
It wasn't the first time a telephone had recorded the voice of a Miami murder victim.
In January 1985, a businesswoman was shot to death by a robber while clutching her telephone, as police searched for her building. Its number wasn't marked.
In 1980, a 13-year-old girl was so calm in reporting a break-in at her parents' home that the emergency communications clerk was not alarmed. When police arrived 45 minutes later, the girl had been raped and then murdered.