A number of excuses are given over the course of the film. The brother and sister of one of the perpetrators said they initially assumed the killer was drunk and disoriented. Later, they say that they didnt want to be involved in something negative. The girlfriend of one of the killers also said he initially sounded drunk and confused. When she discovered the body of the victim, she called 911, but refused to give much information. The mother of one of the killers friends says she was initially told the victim was fine, and then assumed he had been taken to an area hospital after the body was discovered. When 911 was called — twice — the vague attitude of both of the callers caused emergency personnel to treat the call as a non-emergency.
Source: Prevos, Peter. (2006, January 3). Explanation models for the bystander effect in helping behavior. Psychology 1B. Retrieved February 25, 2010 at http://prevos.net/ola/helping_behaviour.pdf
Step 1. The bystander needs to notice that an event is taking place, but may fail to do so and not provide help.
The killers girlfriend saw the dying man in a ditch. She did call 911, but was vague and did not ensure there was follow-up on the part of the authorities.
Step 2. The bystander needs to identify the event as some form of emergency. The situation may be ambiguous, preventing help from being given.
The 911 personnel did not believe the calls they received were legitimate because of the demeanor of the callers. The mother of one the killers initially assumed the victim was fine, then at an area hospital.
Step 3. The bystander needs to take responsibility for helping, but might avoid taking responsibility by assuming that somebody else will (diffusion of responsibility);
The friends mother assumed that the 911 call placed by the killers girlfriend had resulted in an ambulance being sent to the scene
Step 4. The bystander needs to decide on the appropriate helping response, but may not believe themselves to be competent to do so.
The girlfriend and mothers respective vagueness clearly indicates they were subconsciously not sure it was their place to become involved and possibly get their loved ones in trouble.
Step 5. The bystander needs to implement that response, but this may be against their interest to do so, especially in dangerous situations.
The family members and associates of the killers clearly had a vested interest in not being involved.