A YOUNG WIFE COVERED IN BLOOD CALLS 911 TO REPORT SHE ATTEMPTED SUICIDE, BUT SHE CHANGED HER STORY WHILE CLINGING TO LIFE -
DID SHE TRY TO KILL HERSELF, OR DID HER HUSBAND WANT HER DEAD?
"48 Hours" Investigates in "'Don't Scream'"
Saturday, May 5, 10:00 PM, ET/PT
"My neck's bleeding," Tiffany Mead told a 911 dispatcher. "I tried to commit suicide. Please help me."
First responders found a gruesome scene and Mead in bad shape that July 2013 night. Later, Mead changed her story. It wasn't suicide, she said. It was her estranged husband.
Did she really try to kill herself, or did her husband want her dead? Erin Moriarty and 48 HOURS investigate that fateful night, Mead's road to recovery and the police search into what happened in "'Don't Scream'" to be broadcast Saturday, May 5 (10:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
It's a case that stunned investigators, who walked into what was reported as an attempted suicide and ended up on an unexpected path, requiring an undercover agent posing as a hit man to finally get justice.
It's also a story that raises questions about domestic abuse.
Mead told dispatcher Shelley Campbell she was with her husband and son. Campbell told Kris Ertmann, Mead's estranged husband, to apply pressure to her wound. The dispatcher told him to use anything - his shirt, his son's shirt - to stop the bleeding. He remained calm, Campbell says.
"I knew she was in really bad shape," says paramedic Jason Sorenson, who helped Mead. "It was a really severe wound."
So severe was the cut, police responding to the scene questioned whether it really was a suicide attempt.
"The blood all over the car was just, it was unbelievable," says Sgt. Bob Thompson. "I'm looking at this, and I'm like, 'There's no way that somebody's going to be able to survive this.'"
Dr. Sheila Garvey, the emergency room doctor who treated Mead, was also struck by the severity of the wound because, she notes, most self-inflicted stab wounds are not as bad. "She was critical when she came in," Garvey says. "She just about cut off her head. There was no way she could have done that to herself and not that deep."
Clinging to life, Mead told a deputy that Ertmann tried to kill her. That was just the start of the investigation.
Mead opens up to Moriarty about the night of the incident and her life since. She says the slashing incident started when she met Ertmann in a secluded park to get a child support check. She says that he suddenly grabbed her in a bear hug.
"And he had one hand on my mouth," Mead tells Moriarty. "And he pulled something out of his pocket. And he slit my throat. And as he's slitting my throat, he says, 'Shh, don't scream. Stay calm.' And I didn't scream. And I told him I was getting dizzy. So he opened my car door for me so that I could sit.
"And he said, 'You know what I want. Say it.' So I said, 'I love you, and I'll get back with you.' And then he said, 'Seal it with a kiss.' And he leaned in, and he kissed me as blood's pouring out of my neck.'"
Mead thought she was going to die. She lived, but that was just the start of an extensive investigation to find out exactly what happened in a darkened, secluded park and what happened next.
48 HOURS: "'Don't Scream'" is produced by Lisa Freed and Lauren Clark. Grace Arlotta-Berner, George Baluzy, Mike McHugh and Gary Winter are the editors. Judy Tygard is the senior producer. Nancy Kramer is the executive story editor. Susan Zirinsky is the senior executive producer.
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