Bill Whiting’s little dog, Edna, disappeared on Halloween nite, October 31. He was visiting a friend and believes she slipped out the door when trick-or-treaters showed up.
When he notice the very friendly and trusting dog missing he scoured the streets for her calling her name. The next day he put up missing fliers with Edna’s picture, his cell phone number and a promise of a $500 reward for her safe return. He hoped that someone would bring Edna back “either out of the goodness of his heart or desire for the reward.”
Bill was devastated over his missing dog. Edna “was so gentle that Whiting took her to hospitals, where patients cheered up as they petted her. Edna had pointed bunny ears, warm brown eyes and was Whiting’s “constant companion” since he adopted her a decade ago. She had never known anything but kindness from human hands.”
“This is one of the most horrible things that has ever happened to me,” said Bill Whiting and describe how he made sure that Edna always wore her collar. Attached to her collar were her vaccination tags, showing she was a healthy dog, and her name tag with Whiting’s information, showing she was a loved dog. When Edna walked, her tags jingled.
He waited, hoping everyday for some word. On November 10 he got a phone call on his cell phone he will never forget.
He heard two voices that sounded male and young. The first said he was 16, his brother was 9 and they had his dog. He wanted Whiting, 57, who works for the University of Pennsylvania’s Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, to talk with his brother.
At first, Whiting says he could barely understand the younger boy, speaking in what he described as “American ghetto slang.” Whiting slowly realized the boy wanted $600 to ransom Edna.
“I was to bring cash, by myself,” at midnight to a location Whiting could not decipher.
Whiting agreed to pay the money but not to a midnight meeting. “They said they wanted the money now, and told me they’d kill the dog, repeating, ‘You don’t believe me, Mister, let me hurt it so you can hear.’ “
Whiting heard Edna yelp in pain. When he heard the jingling of her tags, Whiting knew they had his beloved little brown dog.
“I couldn’t believe how evil he was,” says Whiting. “He said, ‘You know, Mister, I want to kill your dog.’ “
Whiting pleaded with them not to hurt Edna, offering to give them even more than $600 if they would keep Edna safe until the morning.
The line went dead.
Bill Whiting immediately called the police and filed a complaint. A few hours later he got another phone call, this time on his home phone, land line, a number that was not on his fliers but was listed on her tags.
“I’ve killed your dog, it’s dead,” he said and hung up.
Whiting then thought to call his cell phone provider, Verison, and get the numbers the torturers were calling from to give the information to the police so they could track them down.
“I made about five calls and kept getting people who were good at passing the hot potato,” Whiting says. He was told police know the procedure.
The police then got a warrant to Verizon for the information and it took 12 days, 12 very long days for Verizon to respond with the requested information and then to top it all they actually sent a bill to the police for the information. A bill for $150!
In most cases, says Verizon spokesman Lee Gierczynski, “the company charges no fee or a nominal one,” but in a “very small percentage of cases, Verizon will charge reimbursement fees for gathering information it does not routinely maintain.”
The fee covers some of Verizon’s costs and it makes no profit, he says. In a wired world, I find both the slow service and the high cost hard to swallow.
A crime has been committed. Another police source tells me the service is no better for other crimes, such as kidnapping, when time is crucial.
In Edna’s case, the detective says, he must now get another search warrant to connect the phone numbers he has to subscribers. He couldn’t say what the charge would be or how long it would take.
More delay and more expense.
Bill listened as his beloved dog was tortured and then was called and told she was dead. Then he has had to deal with BS and red tape which should not have happened.
Whiting will live for a long time, maybe forever, with the pain of hearing his little brown dog tortured. But he doesn’t want Edna to have died in vain. As her legacy, he wants the phone companies to act faster and cheaper. He thinks telecommunications companies should provide free assistance to police “as a public service. It’s not like they have a narrow profit margin.”
I find this unbelievable and unacceptable! Philly police and Bill whiting may have lost their chance for justice for Edna because of foot dragging on the part of Verizon, a company which is well paid to offer a public service. Are other cell phone providers any better? This is not a shot again Verizon but against any company that could needlessly impede a criminal investigation and then profit from it!
Will something like this happen to you when you need it the most. Information denied, a run around and precious time wasted.
The Pennsylvania Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals is offering a $5,000 reward for information leading to an arrest, of which $3,000 came from an anonymous donor.
If you have any information, please call police at 215-686-3093 or -3094.