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How’s Mom?
THE YOUNG minister was concerned: Thelma hadn’t been to church in three weeks and wasn’t answering her door. Could the police help? Thinking this might be a job ...


Detective/Sergeant Ingrid Dean

Michigan State Police

THE YOUNG minister was concerned: Thelma hadn’t been to church in three weeks and wasn’t answering her door. Could the police help? Thinking this might be a job for a female officer, my sergeant dispatched me on this “suspicious situation.” When the minister and I arrived, I immediately suspected the problem: Her mailbox was stuffed with mail. Since she had no transportation unless someone picked her up, obviously she was inside and in trouble. I remember full well how young and “innocent” the minister seemed, and couldn’t help but wonder how he’d react to what I thought we’d find.

The doors were locked, and she didn’t answer the bell. Searching around the house for an unlocked window, we finally found one in the bathroom, through which I entered. As soon as we lifted it up we smelled it—death. Even if you’ve never smelled it before, you know immediately what it is. There is something unnatural and animalistic about it; even a child recognizes the odor. It was quite apparent Thelma had been dead for a while, as I found her body decomposing on the couch. It was summer, there was no ventilation, and the house was stifling with the heat. I was marshaling my thoughts and about to unlock the door to let the minister in when the telephone rang. It’s probably my sergeant checking up on me, I thought, so I answered it: “Trooper Dean, State Police.”


There was a moment of shocked silence on the other end before a female voice said, “Hello, is my mother there, is she all right, and is this really the police?”

What could I say? I couldn’t lie. Protocol calls for us to find the woman’s relatives, notify the police in their areas, and have local officers notify them in person. Even so, swallowing hard I told her the truth... and she broke down over the phone. After a few more questions she quieted down, and asked me if I would pray with her, and I did. Then I remembered, There’s a minister outside the front door! Coming to my senses, I let him in and handed him the phone to handle his business... and I set to work handling mine!

I’ve thought about that situation several times. I believe God inspired the daughter to call when she did, because the Lord knew there would be people there who could meet her spiritual needs. God knew I was a Christian and would handle it from a believer’s perspective (though it’s the first time I ever was asked to pray at a scene). The timing was perfect because God had orchestrated it all!

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