911 Call Lost During Mom's Kidnapping
By JOHN DAVIS and ZAC ANDERSON Sarasota Herald‐Tribune
Published: January 23, 2008
NORTH PORT ‐ A motorist called 911 Thursday after hearing a woman screaming
from the backseat of a car on U.S. 41, but the information apparently never got to
officers searching for Denise Lee that night.
Motorist Janet Kowalski gave authorities an exact location for the car driven by
Michael King, 36, who was charged Monday with first‐degree murder in Lee's death.
Kowalski made the call as King pulled up beside her at the intersection of U.S. 41
and Cranberry Boulevard at 6:30 p.m.
But because Kowalski called 911 from just inside the Charlotte County line on
Cranberry Boulevard, her call was handled by the Charlotte County 911 center.
For some reason, the call was not patched through to the North Port police in
Sarasota County, who were directing the search for Lee.
"They handled the call from beginning to end," said North Port Police Capt. Robert
Kowalski told the 911 operator she saw the driver repeatedly push a woman down
in the back seat of his car, and the woman slapped the passenger side window as if
trying to get out.
Kowalski also said she heard the woman screaming "like she never heard before,"
according to documents released Tuesday.
Kowalski's 911 call may have given police their best chance to save Lee, 21, whose
body was found Saturday. Yet none of them knew that Lee had been spotted, alive,
Authorities had been looking for King and his green Chevrolet Camaro, which had a
black grill protector on it, since shortly after Lee, a mother of two, was reported
missing at 3:20 p.m. Thursday. An alert on the car went out at 5 p.m., and authorities
stepped up their search after receiving two 911 calls reporting that King had
abducted Lee. On one of those calls Lee could be heard begging her abductor for her
Lee's body was found buried in a shallow grave Saturday.
King was driving on U.S. 41, the main north‐south road in the ar