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Cellphone call helps police rescue woman

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Dispatchers could only hear a woman screaming over a cellphone connection after Metro 911 received a call about 7:15 a.m. Sunday, said Charleston Lt. S.E. Blankenship.

The victim, whose name has not been released, was able to call for help on the cellphone but wasn't able to speak to dispatchers -- instead leaving the line open.

Dispatchers used the cellphone's signal to pinpoint where the call was coming from, tracking the call to Kanawha Boulevard East in the area of Wertz Avenue, which is just west of the Charleston Moose Lodge.

Supervising dispatcher Blaine Means said dispatchers used the GPS coordinates from the initial call to get a location on the cellphone.

He said when a person uses a cellphone to call 911, the phone transmits latitude and longitude coordinates to dispatchers, giving them the caller's approximate location.

"We were able to get them pointed in the right direction," Means said. "The cruisers got into the area and heard the woman screaming."  

Blankenship said officers saturated the area and found the woman and the man on the railroad tracks near Wertz Avenue. He said the man, later identified as Erique Harris, 20, of Charleston, ran east when he saw officers.

Police caught up to him and took him into custody. They recovered a bloody knife when they arrested him.

The woman may have been sexually assaulted in the incident, but detectives still are working to determine if that was the case, Blankenship said.

Harris and the woman were acquaintances and this was not a random act, he said.

She suffered deep cuts to her arms and was taken to Charleston Area Medical Center's General Hospital.

Harris was charged with malicious wounding. Additional charges are pending the investigation, Blankenship said.

Harris is being held at South Central Regional Jail.

Contact writer Ashley B. Craig at or 304-348-4850.


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