Dispatcher’s texts help save woman locked in trunk of car

SMITHFIELD, N.C. (WNCN) — Thanks to one Johnston County 911 dispatcher, a woman who police say was abducted is now safe and sound.

On Jan. 14, a Johnston County 911 supervisor took a call from a woman saying she was abducted in Raleigh and locked in the trunk of a moving car.

But the call dropped and dispatchers weren’t able to get the woman back on the line.

Night shift supervisor Tim Medlin had an idea. He used his work cell phone to text the victim, something that had never been done in Johnston County before.

“I sent a simple text, ‘can you text?’” Medlin said. “And I got a response back, ‘yes’ and almost immediately got another response back, ‘help me.’”

Through the text exchange Medlin learned the victim knew her abductor and they were likely headed to Fayetteville. Verizon was also able to track her phone.

“She was rescued; basically the police found her and we got to go home with the satisfaction, hey, she was located,” said Medlin. “It was a good night.”

Nicholas Mattevi was arrested and is now facing false imprisonment charges.

Jason Barbour, Johnston County 911 director, says Johnston County is one of the first counties in North Carolina to be able to receive texts to 911, but it only works with their system if the victim texts 911 first.

“This is what she sent. This is her location that we received. We have automatic responses that we can send back quickly,” said Medlin.

Barbour says he’s already ordered a new smart phone just to initiate text messages with victims.

“The one we have is a flip phone and obviously it’s cumbersome to do text messaging from a flip phone, so we have a smart phone on the way to take care of this need,” he said.

CBS North Carolina did reach out to the victim, but she did not want to comment.

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