In follow-up to my post Behind a Stranger When He Calls . . . I have been informed that two persons on the web using the names saund and cerulean were able to trace the background sounds to a teleplay Breaking Up which aired on January 2, 1978, the night of the call. I was sent the film and told the area in question is around 28 minutes into the movie.
Indeed it is! Not only can the words be matched up, the inflection and tone is identical where the words cannot be made out clearly. I praise anybody who can sit through the whole movie. I could not. It was an excellent bit of detective work, and a reality that many have feared– a movie. There may be a couple of instances where there is a background voice that is not emanating from the drawing room drama, but principally the dialogue comes from the tely.
The question is, is the television on in the victim’s house or in the obscene caller’s house? I had wondered, perhaps worried is a better word, why the sheriffs never released an analysis of the background dialogue. It suggested they had identified it as either people in the victim’s home or had traced it to what was on that night, if it was a TV drama. The upshot was they didn’t mention it because it was not relevant to the investigation anymore.
Back then it would have been easy and even standard procedure to trace a TV show to see what jived with the time of the call. They probably had traced it to the movie, or the victim said outright that she was watching it at the time.
For us today, the fact that the dialogue is about 28 minutes into the teleplay tells us at what time “EAR” called to hiss threats. Back then the networks tried to hook you with 30 minutes of a movie and then hit you with a long commercial break at the half hour. I don’t know if that was done here, but even if there was a commercial or two commercial breaks already the call took place near the half hour, so around 8:30 p.m. or 9: 30 p.m. or soon thereafter.
I filmed the relevant part for those interested to access the 2 minute clip without the horror of having to watch the whole movie.
After having listened to an enhanced version of the threatening recording at Behind a Stranger When He Calls through earphones for about 30 minutes I had been able to detect a number of background lines. I reproduce them here with the corrected lines from the teleplay in BOLD.
The recording begins.
Woman No 1 to (unknown) “Were you combing a book?”
(Lee Remick to Vicky Dawson): (“What, are you quoting a book?”)
Garbled due to heavy breathing of EAR.
A couple of “what” could be heard, however.
@33 seconds (Woman No 1) “He’s going to tell me about paying on a loan. . .”
Lee Remick to Vicky Dawson: “Tell him he has pain in the lower left abdomen.”
Garbled . . .
@42 (Woman No 1) Garbled . . . “go off and make a payment. . .”
Lee Remick to Son: “Wanna throw up. It might make you feel better. . .”
Son: “No, no. . .”
@45 seconds Man (speaking already) “OK . . .” garbled.
@46 Woman No 2 (loudly calling) “Edward, out of here first.”
Lee Remick: “Call the doctor first!”
Sounds of some rolling (metal?) door ratcheting down a few notches.
@55 seconds (Woman No 1) “I, I don’t know how . . .”
@1:02 Some type of machine commences briefly.
@1:08 (Woman No 1) “When you get the comb, I dare you to enter the (Sands?) tomorrow.”
Son: “Will you hear me if I call?”
Lee Remick: “I’ll hear you if you even think of calling . . .”
Rushing down stairs:
@1:13 (Woman No 2, loudly calling) “Hey, Jethro, Que es?”
Lee Remick: “Hey, Amy, don’t phone yet!” or (“Aaaamy, don’t phone yet!”)
So the question is settled– the movie Breaking Up was playing in the background. Behind which receiver is another question. There does indeed appear to be a few other sounds and perhaps a man’s voice saying “Ok” that do not fit the teleplay. But, again, we don’t know at what end.
It is interesting to note that the part of Amy played by actress Vicky Dawson fits EAR’s typical victim profile. She would later appear in the movie, The Prowler, though it had a very different plot than anything 1970s (WWII plot). Vicky Dawson wasn’t established, so that I doubt EAR was her fan. Thus we can’t argue the point and say he had the movie on in the background. For those too young to remember the late 1970s, however, seeing Dawson’s character rather brings to life the real victims and what they looked like and how they lived at the time. When seeing something so dated, it does rather impress upon one how EAR/ONS’ era is slipping away into time.
Was there any background sounds during the “Is Ray There?” call before this? I don’t recall. But the TV may have been on “mute”– standard procedure then indicating a commercial break was indeed ongoing.
Unfortunately, the discovery of the film as the background source of much dialogue doesn’t advance us in identifying EAR or in helping me identify my POI as responsible. If these words were emanating from real people, I interpreted some of the lines as being spoken while a business was closing, perhaps even in a warehouse due to the ratcheting sound and what sounded like a machine briefly coming on. “Abdomen” was not spoken loudly and I heard “pain in the lower” as “paying a loan.” I had actually thought that the first line was “Were you quoting a book?” but I could not get it to fit a real life situation. “Book combing” is actual done in professional printing.
Courage should nevertheless be taken by the discovery of the film. In like manner, the location of the map will also be discovered, and this may give us a valuable clue. I still wait upon handwriting samples and “Dennis Becker” to try and give me a lead on possible lairs in the So. Cal area. But my next post delves into the map and, coincidently, an old 1975 teleplay helped re-inspire me just a couple of weeks ago.
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Since 1990 Gian J. Quasar has investigated a broad range of mysterious subjects, from strange disappearances to serial murders, earning in that time the unique distinction of being likened to “the real life Kolchak.” However, he is much more at home with being called The Quester. “He’s bloody eccentric, an historian with no qualifications who sticks his nose into affairs and gets results.” He is the author of several books, one of which inspired a Resolution in Congress.