911 call: Wife tells Ford II he will be on abuse list

Jennifer Chambers
The Detroit News

A 911 call captured Cynthia Ford telling Grosse Pointe Farms police her husband is abusing her, saying “you are going to be on a wife abuse list ... they are going to take you away.”

Edsel Ford II

The call, placed by Cynthia Ford to the Grosse Pointe Farms Police Department at 10:51 p.m. on July 4 from the Ford’s Lakeshore Road home, lasts nearly three minutes and captures the moments leading up to Edsel Ford II’s arrest.

Near the end, as police arrive at the home, she begins to cry, saying: “He is going to be Edsel Ford, and the police are going to let him be.”

Although Edsel Ford did spend the night of July 4 in jail, Grosse Pointe Farms City Prosecutor Robert Ihrie announced last week he would not be criminally charged because of insufficient evidence.

Ford II, the 67-year-old great-grandson of Henry Ford, is on the board of directors of the Ford Motor Co. He has held positions with the Detroit 300 Conservancy, National Advisory Board of the Salvation Army and Detroit Children’s Fund.

Police said during a “physical altercation” at the couple’s home, Edsel Ford took away his wife’s cellphone as she tried to record the incident.

During the 911 call, placed on a home land line, Cynthia Ford tells the dispatcher “everything is actually OK” but asks them to still come to the house. As she waits on the line with the dispatcher, she later apologizes, saying: “All we need to do is convince him to give me the phone back ... it’s really unattractive. I’m sorry.”

In a statement through attorney Todd Flood issued the day after the incident, Cynthia Ford said the July 4 incident wasn’t a domestic violence case, adding: “I stand behind true victims of domestic violence and I am not one of them.” Flood did not return calls Monday.

Cynthia Ford

Because Cynthia Ford was not using the phone to call 911, and was not being deprived of the ability to seek emergency assistance — she was able to use a phone minutes later to make the call — it didn’t rise to the level of a felony, Daniel Jensen, Grosse Pointe Farms director of public safety, said last week.

Generally, Grosse Pointe Farms police send misdemeanor domestic violence cases to the city prosecutor. Felonies are sent to the Wayne County Prosecutor’s Office.

In a five-page police report obtained through a Freedom of Information Act request by The Detroit News, three different police officers filed details on the incident. Two officers interviewed Cynthia Ford while a third interviewed Edsel Ford.

According to the report, Edsel Ford told the officer that he removed the phone from his wife’s hand because “she was going to call, I don’t know.” Ford then admitted he was not allowing his wife to have the phone and that is what started the argument. In the process of trying to get the phone back, Cynthia Ford ripped his pants, Edsel told the officer.

“(The officer) asked Ford if he became physical with his wife and he stated ‘yes we both were being physical with each other, but I did not hit her,’ ” the report said.

The officer included a comment he detected a strong odor of intoxicants coming from Edsel Ford.

In an interview with police at the home, Cynthia Ford said she and Edsel were sitting at the kitchen table talking and he became agitated. So she grabbed her phone and began recording his behavior. She got up to move, continuing to record, when Edsel saw the phone in her hand and asked her if she was recording him, according to the police report.

When she said no, that she was texting her kids, Edsel walked over, grabbed onto her arms and took the phone from her hand, the report reads.

“Cynthia threatened to call the police and Edsel stated that she wouldn’t do it,” according to the report.

The 911 call begins with a calm Cynthia Ford saying: “Hi. This is Mrs. Edsel Ford and my husband is abusing me.”

When asked by a female dispatcher “how is he abusing you, physically or verbally?” Ford says nothing for several seconds and then states her husband “is stretching my arms, clearly he has had too much to drink and really he is mad at me.”

The dispatcher asks about guns in the home. Cynthia Ford says no and then says yes. “Yes, we have shotguns in the house ... tell them there are no shells.”

As the dispatcher works to get multiple units to the couple’s home, Cynthia Ford can be heard saying: “Give me my phone!”.... “You are going to be on a wife abuse list ... they are going to take you away.”

The dispatcher responds by asking Cynthia Ford where she and her husband are in the house. After learning the couple is in the kitchen, the dispatcher asks Cynthia Ford if one of them can leave the room so she is alone.

“That probably won’t be necessary,” she says. “He has my cellphone, so it’s really him wrestling my arm to get my cellphone. ... All we need to do is convince him to give me the phone back...it’s really unattractive. I’m sorry.

“He is going to be Edsel Ford and tell the police he is a good man,” she adds.

Asked again where they are inside the house, Cynthia Ford tells the dispatcher they are both in the main house.

“Everything is actually OK, but he was ... anyway, yep ... so please come over,” Cynthia Ford says.

She can be heard on the line being asked for information about the couple’s address.

Unprompted, Cynthia Ford says: “Actually opening the door because he is going to be Edsel Ford and the police are going to let him be ... .” Then she begins to cry.

“Don’t worry about that right now. Just talk to me right now,” the dispatcher tells Ford, who replies, “thank you.”

The dispatcher informs Ford an officer is at her home.

The alleged incident followed the couple’s recent — but brief — divorce proceedings prompted by Edsel Ford’s April 5 complaint filed in Wayne County Circuit Court’s family division.

The filing claimed “a breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no likelihood that the marriage can be preserved.”

His wife was served with divorce papers two days later outside Plum Market on Orchard Lake in West Bloomfield Township, according to court filings. She responded April 28 with a counterclaim seeking to freeze assets during the proceedings and to be granted either “lifetime spousal support” or a dismissal of the divorce.

“(Edsel Ford) should be ordered to pay (Cynthia Ford) lifetime spousal support based on his superior ability to earn a substantial living, the parties’ standard of living throughout the marriage and other factors which support an award of spousal support,” the wife wrote in her counterclaim.

The divorce was dismissed May 25 after Judge Lisa Neilson was “advised of the parties’ mutual desire” to end the proceedings.

The two were married Sept. 28, 1974, in Tequesta, Florida.

jchambers@detroitnews.com