Sword and Scale Episode 4

Sword and Scale Episode 4

On Friday, October 5th 2012, 10-year-old Jessica Ridgeway disappeared on her way to school. This is the story of what happened to her and how the suburban city of Westminster coped with the aftermath, including the perpetrator’s chilling confession. We warn you, some of the details are quite disturbing and not intended for all audiences.

We also examine how common child abductions are in the United States and cover some of the week’s most eye-catching headlines.

If you have any information on child exploitation, please call 1-800-THE-LOST or visit the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children website.

To find out more about Jessica Risgeway’s story, please visit her website. Also read about The Lassy Project, an innovative mobile app spearheaded by her mother Sarah that uses technologies like GPS, SMS, and crowdsourcing to protect our children.


  • Bob

    Ok, what the hell is with these 911 operators? The caller states, “My son has just confessed to a murder.” and at 26:15, the operation replies by asking, “And what’s going on there?”

    The caller is stunned and pauses, finally saying, “Did you not hear me? He just confessed to killing her.” The operator goes on like this, asking the most moronic questions imaginable in such a situation. It doesn’t help that her demeanor makes her sound as dumb as her questions.

    • http://swordandscale.com/ Sword and Scale

      This one particular interchange was one of the most disturbing things I’ve heard. This 911 call messed me up for at least a good couple of months, not because of the 911 operator’s reaction, but because of the grief in the mother’s voice as she is suddenly faced with the reality that her son is a depraved monster. It still breaks my heart.

    • Jane Smith

      She was assessing the situation so law enforcement knew what they would be walking into. It was for LE’s safety. I thought she was excellent.

      I’m still haunted by the grief in his mother’s voice. I guess I just never considered the feelings of a murderer’s family before.

    • Brittany

      I thought the 911 operator did really well. They also have to keep a really even monotone voice. They have to sound expressionless and she had to keep them on the phone. After hearing something like that would you have been able to stay calm and think of questions to keep them on the phone? She also needs to gather as much information as possible and try to keep them calm so they don’t freak out.

  • Bea

    I think the 911 operator is really good, actually. She has a procedure to follow, asking after the killer’s mental state, asking there are weapons in the house, etc. She also HAS to keep them on the phone so she’s going to ask anything she can think of. I thought she was really calm and unflappable in the face of a REALLY disturbing call. I was impressed with her.

    This episode, however, was extremely disturbing and made me feel like I wanted to throw up. SUPER well put together. The clips were effective and well-edited. The subject matter made me want to vomit. This poor girl and her poor parents.

  • Kelly

    Doing more re-listening. It is SO crazy that Austin’s DNA test was misplaced. If he hadn’t confessed, who knows if/when this case would have been solved. Very eerie to think about.

  • Wivvlenaire Jean-Baptiste

    These 911 operators, it seems to me that they generally do not have a passion for what they do and that they are very desensitized to the pain that other people experience which is why they seem to lack empathy and understanding for these calls and why they even sometimes get angry with the person in distress. If some of these things hit closer to home, if 911 dispatchers had experienced something tragic in their own life or someone close to them, they’d do a better job. It’s horrible that that should even be the case.

  • Moparman

    Officers are on there way they need to finish there coffee and donuts first Damn that 911 operator is annoying as hell

  • Vanessa Moreno

    I never heard this full story until today for some reason the podcast did not play the confession. I had to listen to it via the website. Has anyone else had this problem?

About Sword and Scale

Sword and Scale covers the underworld of criminal activity and the demented minds that perform the most despicable and unthinkable actions.

The Sword and Scale Podcast debuted in 2013 and is available on iTunes. Get to know more about Sword and Scale at our About Us page.