A sobbing, frantic Billy Joseph McCullen called 911 in Gaston County Monday afternoon saying he couldn’t find his daughter after he woke from a nap.
“Jordan, please come out!” he could be heard yelling during the call, then telling the dispatcher, “She’s not here, she’s not here...I don’t know where my daughter is!”
A day later, during a search for the girl that drew wide support from the community, police found what they believe to be the remains of the child, 3-year-old Jordan Ann Dumont. Her body was found near her Bessemer City home in the 1900 block of Bess Town Road.
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Authorities apparently viewed that 911 call as a ruse because they charged McCullen, 25, with first-degree murder. He is not Jordan’s biological father but is the boyfriend of her mother, Jaylene Dumont.
Gaston authorities have not said what they believe led to Jordan’s death, how she died or why they charged McCullen. It’s possible additional charges may be filed, Gaston County Police Chief Joseph Ramey said Wednesday.
Jordan died before her body was taken to where police found her remains, he said.
“Anytime you have a victim this young, they are innocent,” Ramey said. “There’s nothing they could’ve done that warrants them ending up dead....It’s disturbing and shocks the conscience of the community.”
The 911 call
Authorities released the nearly seven-minute 911 call to the media Wednesday.
On it, McCullen said he also had a 1-year-old girl with him, but couldn’t locate the toddler who was due to turn 4 next month.
The dispatcher advised him that help was on the way, and that he should look under the bed and in closets in case the child had fallen asleep.
McCullen can be heard calling Jordan’s name, then returning to the phone he had put down. Breathless, sobbing, he said, “My wife’s at work. She’s supposed to be at home and I don’t know where my daughter is.”
He said he had to go to a neighbor’s house to check for her, but the operator told him to remain at the home.
“Jordan baby, please come out, please come out,” McCullen can be heard saying, then telling the operator, “I don’t know if she’s just hiding or what. She don’t do this.”
As McCullen puts the phone down again, a 911 dispatcher and a colleague can be heard saying, “He’s freakin.’ Like, ‘My wife’s going to be home any minute, I can’t find my little girl.’ ”
Calls to police
Gaston authorities are still sorting through 49 service calls in three years for the home, Ramey said.
He said the calls ranged “from noise disturbances to domestic to theft.” Police are checking if any calls were related to child abuse, or whether they were about the couple or others.
Neighbors said McCullen’s family had lived in that home for years, and that McCullen grew up there, left, then came back about 1 1/2 years ago with his girlfriend, Jaylene Dumont.
Neighbors described a turbulent home where arguments between the couple grew so heated they had to call police on multiple occasions.
Cory Connard, 21, said his family called authorities three or four times over the past half year, saying he could hear the couple “cussin’ and arguing. When they argued, he wouldn’t let her out of the house. You could hear her beating on the front door.”
The screaming would occur at all hours of the day and night, he said. Connard said McCullen also would yell at Jaylene Dumont to come inside if he saw her talking over the fence with Connard.
Connard’s 16-year-old sister, Keileigh Connard, said she also heard the couple frequently fight. About a month ago, she said, McCullen was on his porch with Jordan, who was loudly crying. Keileigh said she saw McCullen smack Jordan in the chest so hard she fell off the porch.
Keileigh said her mother called the police.
Ramey said he was not familiar with that incident but his staff was still going through the calls for service, including seeing whether the department of social services was ever contacted by police.
Gaston Department of Health and Human Services Brittain Kenney declined to comment on the case. She noted that under state law, anyone who suspects child abuse, neglect or dependency is required to report it to DSS.
McCullen had a first court appearance Wednesday in Gaston County Court, and his next court date is set for Sept. 6, reported Observer news partner WBTV. McCullen remains in county jail without bail.
Observer researcher Maria David contributed