That's very unfortunate what happened to that poor mother, but I'm inclined to think it wasn't the fault of the police. I guess it's hard to know without actually knowing how much time had lapsed between the death and the police informing her. Maybe they had noone available to go out to the house immediately, perhaps it took some time to locate the mothers address?
According to the article I linked: Ms James was pronounced dead at 8.17pm but officers did not arrive until 11.38pm to tell her mother in person. So three and half hours.
It also sounds like they answered the cell phone when she called before notifying her but just said somebody was coming around. I don't know exactly what the protocol should be but that doesn't sound like a great way to handle it.
I think that police don't want to notify over the phone, because
1. YOu can't be sure who you are actually talking to.
2. If the person goes into shock, or gets ill you have no way of helping them.
I'm in Houston - 3 hours doesn't sound like a long time for the cops to take to notify a family - especially of a death.
They have to
1. Confirm they have the correct ID of the dead person
2. Make sure they have the correct next of Kin
3. Travel to where the next of kin are and notify them in person. In Houston just getting to the next of kin could take an hour.
Apparently TV and Movies have given people the idea these things happen faster than they do in real live. Maybe it is because I'm a sci fi fan but I never think fiction has anything to do with real life.