PATERSON, N.J. -- ''My mommy got hit," the voice on the other end of the 911 call said. The girl said her mother was in the bathroom and was not breathing.
A dispatcher kept the girl on the line as long as she could, but the child finally hung up after five minutes, saying she was tired. Authorities could not trace the call -- made from a cellphone -- and have run into a series of dead ends in their search for the girl.
''The worst-case scenario is there's a 4-year-old girl home alone and her mother is injured," Paterson police Captain Danny Nichols said.
The department's entire 22-member detective squad was working on the case yesterday. After exhausting numerous leads, including tips from callers from as far away as Florida, investigators were working with cellphone providers to try to determine the number of the phone, and the person to whom it was registered.
''We've had 50 to 60 phone calls with all different types of information," Detective Lieutenant Donald Giaquinto said. ''We've even had a psychic call."
Detectives said they do not think the call was a prank.
Authorities said the inability to trace the call was the result of two factors: Cellphones are usually more difficult to trace than regular phones, and the girl's call was fielded by a police line that does not have an enhanced 911 system.
The call came in at 9:20 p.m. Tuesday. The dispatcher asked the girl for identifying information, such as where she goes to school, and what her teacher's name is.
The girl said she is 4, her name is Jessica, and she lives on the first floor of a white house near a candy store, but she did not know the name of the shop. She said she goes to either school or day care, and her teacher's name is Miss Winter.
Police checked with the Paterson school system, as well as local day care outlets, but none had a teacher with a first or last name even close, Sergeant Patrick Murray said. The girl might not attend school in Paterson, so officials in surrounding districts also were being questioned, police said.
The girl told the dispatcher she lives at 150 Sparrow St., but no such address exists. Police visited every house on the street, but no one knew about anything amiss.