OPD searches for woman caller

Jan. 9—The Oneonta Police Department is looking for a woman who called the department Saturday, Jan. 7.

According to a media release, the department received a call from an anonymous number at about 9:10 a.m. The female caller said she needed assistance with late term pregnancy and labor.

The officer fielding the phone call was able to coach the woman through childbirth and remained on the phone for three and one-half hours in an unsuccessful attempt to locate the caller, the release said.

During the call, there were several indications that the call was being made from the Sixth Ward in the city of Oneonta as well as some suspected personal information regarding the identity of the caller, the release said.

On Monday, Oneonta Police Chief Christopher Witzenburg said the caller mentioned living in a cul-de-sac near an ice cream shop, so the department focused its attention on Luther Street near Golden Guernsey.

The department used audible sirens and horns while searching along Luther Street to see if they could hear them over the phone to pinpoint where the woman lived, he said. "We were never able to hear any sirens over the phone," he said. "We were perplexed."

Witzenburg said three officers started on the case in the morning, and by the end of the day 15 officers were working on it. He said police talked to every property owner on Luther Street and determined the department could "completely rule out Luther Street."

During the call, investigating members researched phone data, social media accounts and any possibility of locating the caller, the release said.

"At this point it's hard to say if it occurred in the city or occurred at all," he said. "The chain of events is most bizarre. If it's fake, it's an elaborate fake. If it's real, it's really concerning."

Witzenburg said a post on the Oneonta Police Department Facebook page has been shared about 400 times. "If everyone has 100 friends, that's 40,000 people," he said.

However, there have been no leads as to who the person is or where she was calling from, he said. "This is a first for me," he said. "We've received nothing."

Local hospitals were contacted and security personnel were notified about the situation, however, "part of the problem was that she didn't want to go to the hospital," he said. "It's clearly her prerogative."

During the call, the officer asked the caller to walk out of the house, so help could be provided, the release said. It was at this time the female caller terminated the phone call.

"We're all super concerned," he said. "We've been thinking nonstop about the case since it happened."

A possible description of the female caller is early to mid-20s, slim build, blonde hair with a British or Irish accent and recently pregnant, the release said.

This investigation remains ongoing, and there is the possibility that the call was made from an area outside of the confines of Oneonta, the release said.

Witzenburg said his department is working with other municipalities to see if something similar has happened there.

Anyone with information that may help the police locate this individual and her child can call the department at 607-432-1111.

Vicky Klukkert, staff writer, can be reached at vklukkert@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221.