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Prior to the 911 system, when a citizen needed police assistance they called a seven digit number, which was different for each department. The 911 system was developed so citizens could dial one standard number when emergency services were needed, no matter what city they were in. Ann Arbor City Council authorized the implementation of the 911 system on June 3, 1975 and the system began operation on August 30, 1976.

The first 911 call came in to police communications just after midnight, the official start up time for the system. A local woman had arrived home and found her house burglarized and ransacked.

Initially the public did not respond to the new number, instead calling the old one for emergencies. Sgt. William Hoover stated, “It is new and people are going to have to learn to use the number, that's all. About 10 per cent of the entire country is now operating on 911, and it won't be too much longer before it will be automatic for the public to dial it. It will just take some time and publicity.”

The entire 911 system was installed for $3000 with sixteen 911 lines installed.

Local Family Kidnapped

A bizarre kidnapping of a local family occurred on September 29, 1975. The incident began at the William Schulenberg home, located at 3930 Waldenwood Lane. The incident involved three kidnappers, who burst into the home in the early evening. One suspect forced Schulenberg's wife, Ruth and their three children, Robert 16, Jeff 15, and William 11, into the trunk of the family's Cadillac and drove away. Mr. Schulenberg remained in the residence with one of the other kidnappers.

At the Schulenberg home, Schulenberg was forced to call family and business associates, in an attempt to raise ransom for his family. The kidnapper guarding him gave him no exact figure, just told him to “get money.”

Schulenberg was employed as an executive at General Motors and phoned his boss, George Griffith. He told Griffith of the incident and that he needed money to free his family. He explained that his family had been driven from the home and they would be harmed if the ransom was not delivered.

When Griffith hung up, he called the police department to advise them of the kidnapping. Eventually the house was surrounded by numerous officers, but it was decided not to raid the house, since the location of the rest of the family was not known. At 9:00 a.m. the banks opened and Griffith raised $54,000 in ransom and returned to the Waldenwood home.

While this was occurring, the Cadillac had been driven around the city, with the family locked in the trunk. With her family locked in the trunk, Mrs. Schulenberg yelled to the driver that the family could not breathe and was suffocating. The suspect then stopped the car, opened the trunk and fired a handgun three times in the trunk for “airholes.” The trunk was then shut and the suspect continued the family's journey.

During part of this ordeal, for reasons not known, the suspect stopped the Cadillac and took Robert from the trunk. He tied Robert to a tree, gagged and blindfolded him. The kidnapper would return several hours later and wrap Robert in a coat, then leave again.

Robert was finally able to free himself from the tree at 9:00 a.m. and he began walking through the field in which he escaped from, trying to find out where he was. He walked to a road and was picked up by a passing Michigan State Police Trooper.

The kidnapper in the Cadillac finally returned to the house at 8:15 a.m, with the family still in the trunk. They were ordered out of the trunk and back into the house where they were reunited with Mr. Schulenberg. Griffith then returned with the ransom money to turn over to the kidnappers. He was told to drive to a nearby road and wait. The officers debated raiding the house but did not know where Robert had been taken to. The kidnappers fled with the ransom money and drove from the Schulenberg's residence, in the Cadillac, which was later found in a nearby parking lot.

Within 24 hours, the first kidnapper was arrested at his Dhu Varren Road home. His arrest was based, in part, on phone traces that were conducted during the Schulenberg's kidnapping. Through their investigation detectives found the suspect lived with another male, who they believed was a suspect. In an odd coincidence, the second suspect's father worked at Michigan Bell and made the phone traces for the F.B.I., which would later help to implicate his son. A search was conducted for him and he was arrested in Cleveland on October 2. He had over $23,000 in cash when he was arrested. The detectives also arrested the third suspect on October 2 and he over $24,000 with him. It was found that the first suspect played a small role in the kidnapping and he was given $4,400 for his involvement.

The Schulenberg's were targeted for the kidnapping as the suspects knew Robert Schulenberg. Robert had been at their Dhu Varren home for a party, about a month before the incident occurred.