Sales Agents' Murder Sparks New Interest in Panic Buttons

Rebuilding a damaged community demands teamwork and speed.

By Bill Lurz, Senior Editor | October 31, 2003



The recent murder of two Morrison Homes sales agents in a model home gives builders new urgency to give electronic panic buttons, connected to the company security system, to all sales agents.

Lori Brown and Cynthia Williams were found dead of apparent gunshot wounds in a model at the upscale Oakwind subdivision in Powder Springs, Ga., north of Atlanta. The tragedy renewed industry interest in panic buttons - small, battery-operated devices very much like garage door openers.

Many builders already use them but question their effectiveness. "They do no good unless agents carry them everywhere they go," says Jim Doyle, marketing vice president of Jacksonville, Fla.-based developer LandMar Group. "They need to put the device on their clothing as soon as they walk in the door every morning and never take it off until they leave at night."

Another shortcoming: Many panic buttons remain silent when activated and alert only the off-site security company. "If I'm in danger from someone in my model home, I don't want to scream, but I want the model home to scream," a former new home sales agent says.

T.J. Nutter, director of construction for John Cannon Homes in Sarasota, Fla., hooks panic buttons directly to the model's alarm. "You just have to install a wireless transmitter in the model," he says. "The sirens go off in the model, and the security company is also alerted. It's easy to do."


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