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Reading too much into the Celis 911 audio? KGUN9 viewers weigh in

Sergio and Rebecca Celis Photo: Image by Guy Atchley

Reading too much into the Celis 911 audio? KGUN9 viewers weigh in

CREATED May 16, 2012

Notes by:  Forrest Carr, KGUN9 News Director

The Celis 911 audio:  in recordings made the morning 6-year-old Isabel Celis disappeared from her Tucson bedroom, one parent is distraught, nearly hysterical, so much so that the dispatcher has to tell her to take a breath.  The other parent comes off as cool, calm and collected, even chuckling at one point.  What can you conclude from that?

When KGUN9 News posted the complete 911 audio recordings shortly after police released them to the media on Monday, the story racked up a near-record number of page views.  KGUN9 viewers wasted no time in deep contemplation before reacting to what they had heard on those recordings, immediately plastering KGUN9's Facebook page with passionate comments.  To be sure, there were some defenders of the Celis family, but they were seriously outnumbered.  One woman who posted a comment suggesting that viewers give the family the benefit of the doubt immediately received such a beating-down from other posters that she deleted her comment.

The next day, 9 On Your Side further explored the issue of whether it's fair to draw those kinds of conclusions simply from someone's tone of voice and demeanor under stress.  An expert who has a great deal of experience dealing with parents in this exact type of situation assured viewers that it is not fair, and pointed out that different people display vastly different reactions in a crisis.

Viewers wasted no time reacting to that story either.

Here are some samples, beginning with the commentary that flooded in immediately after KGUN9 posted the raw 911 audio on Monday.

Tabetha Fox Billyard -- "I have said from the beginning the dad was in on this."

Donna M. MacEachern -- "We all handle anguish differently.  As the Police Chief has advised - don't read too much into it."

Quel Garcia -- "I'm sorry, the dad sounded way too calm to be calling 911 about a missing daughter."

Sandy Footely:  "Sergio's call is sickening!!! He is way calm and even giggles!!!"

Denny Treu -- "Don't jump to conclusions as it's not fair to do to the family. I hope and pray the answers come. There are too many details you can't determine off of a phone call. Also, keep in mind that in a crisis situation, remaining calm is the best thing you can do when trying to provide critical information. The level of shock may not have set in for Dad :<"

Sandy Footely -- "@Denny:  remain calm, yes. Giggle while you're talking about your missing six year old, not so much!"

Kari Joanides -- "What kind of parent calls 911 to report their child missing and is completely calm?"

Shannon Feldman -- "The mother is acting like you would expect, hysterical.  Him -- mmmm not so much. That's all I'm saying."

Beth Holick -- "A lot of people tend to have a nervous giggle or laugh under stress. I know I do.  I so hope that no one in the family is responsible for this.  I still think someone followed them home from the ball park."

Kristina Cope Hardin -- "Nervous laugh my ... "

Maritza Marquez -- "Casey Anthony.  I have said it all along."

Many of the comments were even nastier.  Some, much nastier.

After KGUN9 posted the story featuring an expert advising not to read too much into the tones of voice heard on the 911 recording, KGUN9 viewers weighed in again.  This time, more viewers expressed a willingness to take a wait-and-see attitude, but plenty still weren't buying it, expert or no expert.

Austin Eli - "How can you NOT read anything, I have more passion about ordering a pizza!"

Dave Larson -- "I can't say about him, but when I'M faced with a serious situation my emotions become suppressed so I can take care of business. Panic has killed more people than cars!"

Carolyn Audilet -- "People react differently to stress. You can't apply your experience to someone else."

Sarah Riesgo -- "Don't read too much into it -- ya ok! No one should laugh when calling about a missing child."

Brian J. Hoffner -- "Everyone's an expert, until they are in the situation. Speculation is just that, speculation."

Noelle Angelica Scuola -- "I panic when my son wanders off a few feet away in a store.  Can't imagine what I'd do if I couldn't find him in my own home!"

Ashley Lynn Valdovinos -- "All I know is if my daughter were abducted from my house or ANYWHERE I would be a crazy mess just thinking of the WHAT IF'S!!!!  There is no way I would laugh or chuckle during my plea for someone to help!!!   I dont care what experienced investigators say...." 

Connie G Scammell -- "Even experts are wrong at times."

Valerie Thomas -- "I just wish they would release the results of the lie detector tests."

Join in the conversation by adding your comments here, or on our KGUN9 Facebook page.