Sunday, January 31, 2010

Tune into the Levi Blog Talk radio show tonight.

Tonight @ 10 PM EST / 9 CST / 8 MST / 7 PST

If you haven't been following the Haleigh Cummings case, google it first, then tune it today to on  Levi Page's blog radio show. Levis and guest will discuss drug arrests of key players,  Misty Croslin's deceptive behavior and how long she can maintain it. There will much focus on a  highly suspicious Ronald Cummings. Levi' and panel will analyze Ronald Cummings' interview newspaper reporter conducted while while he is behind bars! Evidently Ronald is complaining about the size of his jail cell while his daughter is missing.

Panel includes: Criminal Profiler Pat Brown, Private Investigator T.J. Ward who put Misty through a layered voice analysis and Tricia Griffith the admin. of Websleuths / Forums For Justice who has been following the case from day 1.

Call in with your questions or comments beforehand at: 347-838-9781

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Bullet In His Head

I've tried about six different openings for this story.
I just can't seems to find a better way to lead in,  than to cut to the chase.

I came home after sunset, it was raining out.
When I opened the door to our little beach house, my husband, Moose (a nickname) and one of his work buddies Carl (a pseudonym)  were talking.  They were sitting on the sofas around the warm living room fire.

Carl is 48 years old, single, and good looking.
He's got a business and a decent bank account despite the economy.

He recently moved to the Northwest. He is, by background, a California party animal.

I never had much of a conversation with Carl, just hellos, goodbyes and how-are-yous in my comings and going.
I'd only met him outside the house, where guys gather around the man-cave/garage and do their work on boats, engines, trailers... whatever Moose helps them with.

However, this was the first time Carl was in our home, just hanging out and talking.
The sun had set, our work was done, the fire and conversation pulled me in.
I 'd heard a story about Carl and figured I'd ask about it.

"Hey Carl," I said as I curled up by the fire.
"I'm gonna' ask you something and if you don't want to answer,  or I've crossed some kinda' line, just tell me know. "

"Go ahead, ask me anything" he said.

"Well... I was told you were shot in the head once."

"That's right," Carl said. He lifted his right arm, moved his hand to the base of his skull.
 "The bullet's still right here. Wanna feel it?"

"Sure," I said, as I moved my fingers lightly just above the hairline to the base of his skill. He put his hand on mine and guided me to the spot where the bullet lay... in the fat deposit in the between flesh and bone. It was a small, hard, round bump, floating in its own inner space.

"Wow" was all I could think of to say.

Professionally, as an Investigator, I have felt spots in skin where bullets have been.
Personally, my own dad  told me how he had been shot in the leg in the war. And I recall how, as a child... my fingers moved  across the saggy sinkhole spot on his calf with a morbid curiosity.

I'd even been shot at  once.  Fortunately, the closest the bullet got was to race by my ear. I still hear that whoosh in my head.

Carl,  however, was  a first for me. He'd been shot in the head and he was alive....miraculously...and the bullet was still in his head.  I wanted to climb inside that head... and he was kind enough to let me in,  as he unraveled his  tale for Moose and I by the firelight.

Carl  arrived home one day... 15 years ago... when he was 33 in his pickup truck.  Carl is a white guy. As soon as he pulled up to his house, two guys, also white, climbed into his truck, both squeezed into the front seat and pointed guns at his head. They told him if they didn't give him all his drugs and all his money they would kill him.

Carl said he knew what was up the minute they said this. It was case of mistaken identity.
Carl told me the same thing he told the guys in his pickup, "Hey man, you got the wrong guy. You want my next door neighbor. He's the dealer. I don't do that kind of shit"

Carl tried to explain this further, evidently the guys didn't believe him. He was hit in the head with the gun once. As he leaned to his left, he reached down to the floor of the pick-up for a tool he knew he had there.

He grabbed the tool and  smacked the guy sitting next to him in the head with it.
As the guy he hit slumped down, the guy with the gun... the guy next to the window, reached behind his friend and shot Carl in the head.

Carl said when the bullet hit, it was like a explosion... then a burning fire... like a hot iron rod being put in his head and twisted. He said all his adrenalin, testosterone, animal and survival instinct  kicked in at once as he kicked open the driver's side door, flew out of the car and ran  up the street, block after block, bleeding like a sonofabitch, full speed ahead... until he got to the fire station and banged at the door.

It was  like 2:30 in the morning.  Someone came to the door, groggy and suspicious.
"What do you want?" he was asked.
"I've been shot in the head." he said, "Open the door,"
The guy on the other side of the door said, "What'd you say?"
"I've been shot in the head," Carl said, "let me in."
The door opened and all the groggy firemen woke up to a blood-soaked Carl  who was surprisingly calm and coherent.
The astounded firemen said they never had anyone who was shot in the head walk up and knock at their door in the middle of the night.
They rushed him to Harborview, the place you go in the Northwest when you get shot in the head.

I asked how long he was in the hospital. He said just one night.
The doctors said it was more dangerous to take the bullet out, than to leave it in.
They said to take it easy for a while, then go about life and keep coming back for x-rays, cat scans, whatever, every now and then.
He was told his body would either absorb or repel the bullet.
He said he  checks it as often as doctors advise.
Right now, the bullet is wrapped tight like a pearl in an oytser he said. 

"And if your body rejects it?" I asked him.
"That'd suck, wouldn't it?" he replied with a laugh.

I  asked if they ever caught the guys.
Carl said that despite the fact he knows the two guys -- and the one who shot him -- he couldn't pick the guys out of the police line up because they changed their appearance.
After that, he decided to just drop it. He didn't want any more retribution.
So they got off.
For a while.

See, justice has a way of finding you even if you slip out from under the hangman's noose.
The streets serve up their own brand of justice and that's what happened in Carl's case.
Because one day Carl was invited by some biker buddy friends, who knew his story, to someone's house.
Inside the house, tied to a chair, was the very same guy who shot Carl in the head.
Evidently, this guy, a notorious drug dealer, had wronged the wrong people and was now getting the spit beat out of him. Big-time.
Carl was invited over because the group thought perhaps Carl would like to have at this guy as well.

I asked Carl what he did.
Carl said he looked at the guy, they locked eyes. He saw him suffering and that was enough for Carl. Carl  turned around and left the house. As far as he was concerned, surviving the gunshot was a miracle, he didn't want to strike a blow, he just wanted to step away. And so he did.

I told Carl I was totally impressed with his story.
I said I never met anyone with a bullet in his head who lived to tell about it with all his faculties in tact.
I told him he was walking miracle.
"Don't you know it?" he replied with a huge, engaging smile.

That story led to others, as the layers of the onion were peeled away and friendship was formed in the sharing of stories as it often is.

Before Carl left that night, I told him I have this  blog and asked if it would be okay to write about his story here.
He said, "Sure. Say anything you want."
For that, I am grateful. Because I think people need to know... no matter how bad it gets, it can get better.
Even after the fat lady sings... it's still not over.

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

A Great 100% Free Public Records Database

I am leaving shortly on my rounds which take me across two bodies of water... the Puget Sound and Lake Washington. Writing a blog story, a real post, takes time I don't have at the moment. So today,  I thought I would provide you  helpful information  you can play with while I'm on the road.

The site I am linking you to is on this blog... it's  top of the list to your left, under "My Favorite Links. If you are  doing a locate, background, anything, this is the place to start. It's free, its comprehensive. The only caveat is to be careful to avoid the paid searches which are cleverly hidden in there.

A lot of PI's use this database for information and then bill their clients for it. You can use it all for yourself. Databases take time to learn and master. Be patient with yourself and you will indeed learn how to do your own searches on this site.

Just click on the link below or the header of this post to get there.

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Kerrigan Case

I haven't been able to honor my blog-a-day goal just yet though I am getting closer. I have been busy the last five days with cases, many resulting from the rain and darkness which descends on the Pacific Northwest this time of year. It makes people nuts. In many ways.
Will be back later to blog. Meantime, here's a story to gnaw on.
I keep wondering what it must be like inside Nancy Kerrigan's head.
She has not only seen the worst. She's lived it.

Friday, January 22, 2010

Tombstone In The Living Room

I've been in a lot of living rooms in this lifetime of mine.
However, I can say without question, I never walked into one that had a tombstone in the middle of it. Right next to the big screen TV.

It was a full sized headstone, like one just plunked out of the graveyard.
There were plastic flowers and ivy strung around it.
Above the tombstone hung a cross with a black Jesus nailed to it.

There was a table next to the tombstone that held pictures of a handsome young man and  the rememberance written about him from his funeral, framed.
There was also a black nativity scene.
Always... somewhere... when the young die tragically, there is a makeshift alter I study, then photograph.
I looked at the date of on the tombstone. He died at the age of 27. That was 2 years ago.

It was a very strange environment. All the shades were drawn. Someone was sleeping on the floor.

I turned my focus to the young man to start my interview and spoke softly
"Who's that" I asked, pointed to the person snoozing on the living room floor.
"My cousin" he said,  "It's okay, she sleeps through anything."

And so we began.
He told me the story about the incident I was investigating.
I took copious notes. 
I asked all the questions, studied all his responses.
Slowly...steadily... a smile here... a nod there...
I established the rapport necessary to begin the harder work... the deeper dig.

P.I's... at least the good ones... have a way of convincing people to unlock the suppressed psychological vaults that protect their past indiscretions, injuries or medical conditions.

I have had  people confess some amazing things to me, including murder, simply by leaning into them, lowering my voice and asking one question while staring them straight in the eyes with a half smile, "Any dead bodies buried in your back yard I ought to know about?"

The response is always fascinating.

So this guy, the one I was interviewing in the living room with the tombstone in it, was dressed well, had great glasses, tasteful bling. Reminded me of a young JZ.
I ask him "the" question.

"I was bad kid," he replied  "had juvie records and one adult ones. Assaults, theft, a drug case. But I never murdered anyone" he replied. "Alot people tried to murder me after I ripped them off. I got stabbed a lot."
"How much is a lot?" I  asked.
"More times than I could even count, most of them are in my back. Wanna see?"

"You bet," I said.
He lifted his shirt and though his skin was quite dark... the scars were darker and clearly visible... and some of them were  long, large raised white keloids.
I start counting stab wounds. I stopped at 17.

"Can I photograph these?"I asked.
"Go for it" he said.
As I took the pictures, he told me not to miss the five stab wounds on his front side.
"And" he added as he turned so my light was better, "there's a bullet wound on my left calf."
He lifted his powder blue Addidas pants and showed me where the bullet went in and how the surgeons took it out.
I asked how old he is now.
He said 25.

"Some life you've had. And you're still a kid." I said. He laughed.
"Don't think i was ever a kid, really."

"It was hell on earth really," he said, "Dark stuff. I never knew knew my dad, my mom worked two jobs and granny helped where she could.  This is granny's house.  I just in two years ago when my big brother was killed. He pointed to the tombstone in the living room.

"How'd he die?" I asked.
"Shot in the face with a shotgun," he said.
"I had to I.D. him," he continued,  "It was bad. Ugly."
I was stunned... because I have seen shotgun  shots do to a head and I can not fathom a brother seeing his brother that way.  I shared his silence while he looked  at the tombstone with that "stare of a thousand miles" I have seen a thousand times.

Just then, a hunched over old toothless woman who looked about 200  and was probably closer to 80, shuffled into the living room with a mop and dustpan.

"Can I get you some coffeee?" she asked.

"No thanks" I said, "but it's so thoughtful of you to offer."
And I meant it.
But by force of habit or my own paranoid reasons, I just don't drink from strange cups in strange places.

I turned back to my subject.

"Did they ever catch the guy who killed your brother?" I asked.
"Oh yeah,"he answered back. "Got 30 years to life. He's in Walla Walla."
"What's the killer's name?" I asked, "I'd like to look him up?"
He told me. That and more.
Not just  his brother's name,  but how close they were had. how the gang was their family.
He talked about how, after his brother was killed, he wanted out of gang-banging life.
So he got himself beat out and somehow lived through it.
Now, he was  a new man, he said.

I told him I was proud of him. That as an outsider looking in, I could tell all the bulbs were lit in his head.  I showed him the stab wounds on his back in my camera. He said he'd never seen them like that before.

I said each wound was a lesson learned, and on the streets of life, he was in grad school having survived what he did. I gave him my best pep talk, thanked him for his time and closed the interview.

I walked quickly to my car, put the case file in my briefcase and programmed my GPS for the next stop of the day.

It is only now, when I stop and write about specific moments and real people in time and space here in this strange cyberspace, that I realize how bad some of us have it and how silently they suffer.

Private Investigators are the eyes and ears of the attorney. And by nature, people only want you to know what they want you to know, to see what they want you to see. Reality is simply our own version of perception.

There were no masks on this case.  No buries stories here. The tombstone was right there.
In the living room.
The reality was not hidden, it was as exposed as a raw nerve.

There comes a point when people with nothing left to hide, hide nothing.
This was one of those points.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Link to Spingola Files

Steve Spingola is a retired homicide detective who is one of those folks who knows of what he speaks.
His new website is up, which I seriously and unabashedly envy.
Yet, despite said envy, I am posting a link to Steve's website and blog.
This is not just a GREAT read,  Steve's blog provides informations to empower you... and those your love... against ransdom acts of madness.

Never forget this:
Information IS power.
Let this blog be a place where you can find both.

Click on the link below, or on the title of this blog post, to get to Steve Spingola's new site.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

8 Body Parts Forensic Scientists Use to ID a Body

New friends the professional caliber of Carolyn Friedman are hard to find.
For many, forensics is a complicated subject hard to understand.
Carolyn's writing and expertise make the complex simple.
To me, the truth is far more interesting than the fiction you see on tv.
Thought I'd share this facsinating Forensic Scientist's Blog with you.
For the eight  revealing body parts... just go below. Or on the title of this post.

To the Forensic Scientist's Blog

Friday, January 15, 2010

Peripheral People

Last night, my cousin called me from the big windy city he lives in. He's one of my life role models, more brother than cousin, who is best friends with my older brother. Let's call my cousin "Mark."

Mark is a successful businessman who I  suspect is quite affluent though you wouldn't know it to look at him. Because while he lives and travels well with class and grace, he does not flaunt money and does not judge those without it.

Mark goes into low income areas and improves them.
He's one of those people who is humble yet driven, an understated power house.

I have found, of the wealthiest people I meet.. my favorite are the humblest ones. And those are almost always the ones who earned their wealth rather than inheriting or marrying into it.
Mark is one such self-made success story. He is always honest, truthful and tells it like he sees it.

An example: once I invested in a stock. Mark said I would lose my investment and I disagreed with him.... and he was right.... Poof!!  Money all gone.

So when Mark called me last night and  said I had something good happening here with this blog and to keep writing, I believed him. So here I be on a Friday night.

Chelsea, my youngest, bought me a website domain name.
She is pulling her marketing  friends together to move this "archaic" little blog spot to part of a bigger web site. She thinks this blog spot is  old school, primitive...  she wants to evolve me from the dark ages to those cyberworlds our kids inhabit  that are beyond my capacity to navigate, or my inclination to master.

I've written a lot of posts I've chosen not to publish here. It's challenging to write about real cases and remain within professional, legal, ethical, moral guidelines. So I was thinking today maybe I'd blog about the sidekicks in a P.I.'s day for once. Not the victims I have seen, but the witnesses I hunted down, or the or the "peripheral  people" I meet on the streets I investigate.

Alley Cat

It was at one such scene where I was measuring the intersection with one of those yellow wheels investigators and contractors use to measure distances over large areas. I had my note book, It was raining out.  I was wearing a bright yellow gortex jackek so I could be both dry and seen while photographing the street,

I also had my camera, safely protected in a plastic cased I'd just improvised. MacGyver would have been proud. The camera's lens stuck out of a hole I'd quickly cut into the side of a zip lock bag with my pocket knife.

The neighborhood I was in... was, on a scale of 1 to 10 --10 being the roughest , meanest, worst....
was a 10. That good news is I was there about 8:00 am, which is when most murderers, crackheads, pimps are sleeping it off.

Plus, after more than decade at this business, the fear goes away and you develop a finely honed instinctual alarm system, liked a seatbelt and airbag  deployment computer, that only goes off when mission is truly critical.

Being white and blond, I am in the minority in almost all the places I go in the melting pot we live in. I am also instantly noticed wherever I investigate an accident out in the open, You can't help but learn how to deal with people and unexpected circumstances after enough experience and years protecting your own back while people approach you, ask questions or observe.

I was unprepared,...however... for the hand that reached out and grabbed my ankle as I was alone while I photographed an alley that the Defendant, a hit and run driver,  flew through. There was garbage  heaped to right side, the driving space was tight. Every alarm in my body went off as I pulled my foot (in boots)  away from the dark black, skeleto- like hand which moved away and disappeared quickly.  Despite the daylight, I reached for my flashlight in my back pocket and scanned the debris in the area of the ankle grabber.
"You the Lord?" a voice said from underneath a pile of newspapers and boxes covered by a blanket.
"Am I dead?"

"Nope. I'm not the Lord, you're not dead. And you're in an alley, not heaven." I said quietly and evenly, despite a massive adrenalin rush as I saw where he was laying and moved closer to him.
"You an angel?" he asked.
"No, just a Private Investigator," I said as I squatted down next to the pile of stuff  that covered him.

"My name's Susan, what's yours?" I asked, as I  peeled away the folded cardboard boxes until I saw his blanket, which he had pulled over his face.
"Joe," he said.
"Ok Joe," I responded, " how 'bout you come out from behind that blanket for a proper hello?"

Joe lifted the blanket from his face and then tossed it to the side. I saw a very tired, once handsome , now gaunt, grey bearded black man covered with dirt and dust and laying in his own excrement. His body reeked of human filth and alcohol.
 The dreadlocks in his har were deadlocks.

"How long have you been here?" I asked him.
"Don't know," he answered.
"You got family, anyone I can call?"
"Only family I got is the Lord," he replied. "I'm waiting for him to pick me up and take me to Heaven."
"You got a apartmnent... somewhere?" I asked.
"You're looking at it," he said.

I told him I didn't think the Lord could find his home under all the boxes in the alley. I suggested  maybe he might want to walk with me to a more open area to await the Lord'sGolden Chariot.

He said he would like that, but it would be impossible for him to move anywhere because  two kids, one with a baseball bat, broke the bone in his lower right leg. He pointed to his leg and I saw blood and bone sticking out of it.

"Geez Joe" I said, as I reached for my cell and dialed 911.

"Ironic ain't it," he said,  "I served in 'Nam and not a single wound. I grow old and get the crap beat out of me here in the good ole USA."

"They gonna' arrest me?" he asked after I got off the phone.
"Better Not" I said. "After all're the one who was assaulted."

"Maybe they'll put me in the Cuckoo's Nest, I do a Great Jack Nicholson," he said as he strecthed his lips into a  psycho grin straight from "The Shining."  I laughed...  then he  laughed and laughed until the laughter turned to a cough that wouldn't stop.

The paramedics and police arrived all at the same time.
I told the Police Officer I was a Private  Investigator working an accident scene and found this man.
The officer  and paramedics knew him well and treated him with impressive respect.
The officer told me it was the strangest thing.
The guy had money, alot of it.
He had a wife, kids, a house, the works.
Then one day he started hearing voices in his head.
The voices told him to walk away from reality. To walk away from everyone and everything. And so he did.

The paramedic said Joe was a paranoid schizphrenic who, though harmless, did have hallucnations, talked to himself and scared the tourists.  His wife long since divorced him. Allegedly, there was trust money somewhere in his name but none of the social workers found it. Or someone stole it.

They would get him to the hospital, get his leg fixed, get him fed, try to help  him as they have done so many times over the years.
Then they'd release him.
And  he'd be just one more of those people on the streets you see, or pretend not to, every day.

Like the guy on the corner with the sign that says, "Will Work for Beer"

Ot the lady by the freeway  with the signs that simply says, "Help me."

When I drive to cases and places, I take the time to look, really look.
Try it, what you see might surprise, or even alarm you.
You'll discover people living under bridges and freeways... under tends... on forested lands, parks, other people's property.
You'll find  huge encampments of the homeless.
Or people who live out of their cars... or  in one bedroom apartmnents with 5 others who would be homeless were it not for the roof overhead.

I have interviewed people in tents,under trtees, in trailers, garages, park benches, train stations, sitting on the street curb.
And every encounter  I have with these "peripheral people."... the lost, lonely, hurt, hungry, homeless.. it makes me feel that much more grateful for who I am.... and the opportunities this profession has given me to help.

Joe called me over to the ambulance as they loaded him.
I meant just to wave good-bye and move on, as I usually do.
I walked over to Joe and he said this to me:

"You're not an Investigator. You're an Angel God sent to find and save me."

I didn't know what to say except,, "Ok Joe. You're right. And God said to tell you it's not your time yet."
I watched the doors to the ambulance close, wrapped up my interview with the police, then went back to my scene investigation.

To this day I do not know if Joe is still on earth or in his version of Heaven.

And the more I think about it, I"m not sure whether I found Joe or Joe found me.
Either way, it was one of those points in time and space that alters your consciousness completely.

There but for the grace of God --or whoever --go I.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

The Cheater's Epiphany

Private Investigators get steady business from Attorneys, which we love...
and private cases from the general public which we have a love/hate relationship with. Because the latter... the cases from the general public (being the average citizen)...  are the ones that are the hardest to  deal with. Especially, and initially, when it comes to discerning fact from fiction, the innnocent from the guilty, the fruit from the nuts.

Some one unknown calls or emails a Private Investigator  out of the blue and it's a real challenge to figure out if the person contacting is telling you the truth; justified in their actions; or two beers shy of six-pack.

That's why good Private Investigators err on the side of caution.

Here's a case in point.
Many moons ago, I was called by a wealthy woman who claimed her husband was a raging alcoholic who verbally and physically abused her, was hiding assets and having an affair. When I asked her how certain she was this was going on, she said 100%.

I suggested she save herself money and  cut to the chase. Either confront her husband and try to save the marriage or divorce him... and put the investigation money towards the attorneys.

She said it wasn't that simple.
They had two sons 4 and 6.
She wanted full custody of the boys and she wanted me to prove her soon-to be-ex-husband unfit.

She said she had  lots of money and wanted to rub his face in his indiscretions... so she would pay me  well to follow him for some time and prove her allegations.

Truth be told, I wanted the business and she was quite convincing... so I took her case. That was a big mistake.
Because it wasn't until after I took the case that I realized the good guy was the one I was paid to follow.
And the  bad guy was a bad girl,  the woman who hired me.

Though they hadn't officially separated yet, they lived in a huge house with two levels and private entrances surrounded by trees. So not only did I watch his coming and goings, I watched hers.
And it was hers that were alarming.

He went to work every day, left the same time for lunch, ate at the same place in the neighborhood or sometimes did errands and ate at drive-thrus. Never once did I see him meet a woman before or after work. There was never any touching or intimacy with any of the women he lunched with, when rarely someone accompanied him.r.

My client,  the housewife, however, was a whole different story. Every morning after her husband left, she loaded the two kids in her Range Rover, dropped them at a daycare at 9:45 and was at the liquor store by 10:00 when it opened. She always came out with a little  brown bag.

She didn't know I was watching with my binocs across the street when she reached into the bag and opened then drank the first of four airport sized bottles of vodka.  My zoom lens also got a great shot of her morning shot.

I know she bought four bottles  because I walked into the liquor store once after she left.
I told the man working there the lady who just came in was my sister and said her birthday was coming. I asked what vodka she preferred, he said, "she always gets four bottles of these." and pointed to the finest brand amongst the little bottle display.

I bought four bottles just like she did and kept them in the little paper  bag inside a bigger plastic evidence bag and tucked them safely away.

After she finished the first bottle, she started her car and headed home.

So I  not only discovered she was  drinking and driving, I was surprised to learn she was the one cheating on her husband... not the other way around.
Every day, like clockwork, a young guy who did landscape and pool work for their three acre fenced property,  came to her door 12:00 noon. He left the house between one and 1:30 via a back door. She never left the house after he left. Just stayed home until   a fully sober dad picked the kids up at daycare  and brought them home by 5:45 pm.

Now I was in a quandry. Hired by the bad guy (who happened to be a girl) to bring a good dad down and try to take his kids away from him.  Not my cup of tea.

I pondered the situation long and hard. Being a newbie P.I. at the time. I spoke with other Investigators,  called an  Ethics Attorney for advice, then followed my gut to her front door.

She thought I would hand over all the evidence to destroy her husband and get custody of the boys.
Instead, I handed her a  plastic bag with a  brown bag with four little bottles of vodka inside and the receipt from the same liquor store she went to.
I also handed her some photos I took of the guy entering her front door and leaving via the back.
And because I had some background info I acquired on the young man she was seeing, I also informed her  not only was she having an affair with someone who had robbery and assault charges...
she invited him into her home  which put her boy, husband, property in harm's way.
Then I handed her back the check she gave me I never deposited.

It was a significant  financial loss for me. However, the emotional gain and lessons I learned were priceless. I told her I want nothing from her but the promise she would seek help.

She was pissed.
She said she would sue me.
I told her I would welcome it because it would give me an opportunity to expose her behavior before a judge or jury.

 I told her she had a good husband, a great provider and dad to those boys... and she was going to lose everything if she did not change. I also told her she brought a  convicted  criminal into their home  and she put her family in harm's way and that was not only irresponsible, it was stupid.

At the time, I didn't know if she listened or not. I don't know if she cared or not.  All I knew was there was nothing to do but state my case then walk away from it  and pray for those kids.

After all, I hadn't seen her driving the children drunk once.
I hadn't seen her harm the kids.
To bring in CPS... to pull the kids out of the house... away from dad, into foster care ... because of this delusional woman... would not produce a positive result.
Yet to  inform her husband would be to violate her privacy, even though she was no longer technically, my client.

Bottom line, no bottom line is worth  the price of pleasing a client who is a liar and cheat. So I stepped away from the case.

The end of this little story is an odd one.

I received a call from her after no contact for maybe three years.
She said she called to thank me because my confrontation was an "epiphany" for her.
She  said she stopped drinking (went to AA), dumped the  young guy, and renewed her wedding vows with her husband, who never found out about the affair. She said her "indiscretion" was a secret that would go to the grave with her.

I congratulated her on her "life transformation." However, I was and remain... suspect.
I declined her invitation to meet for coffee or lunch and to take the check back, since, she said, I saved her marriage.  Instead, I wished her and her family the best and told myself "no more."

No more of these  domestic cases without going through an attorney.
They are far too dangerous and volatile. It takes time to see through the masks people wear to hide their truths.

Attorneys are paid to fight for their clients,  Private Investigators are paid to find the truth so the Attorney is fully equipped for battle. Ultimately, the justice system in all areas of law.... Family Law included, about truth. And always, in this kind of law, what's in the best interests of the kids.

I haven't seen or heard from my ex-client since.
That's the way it usually goes in cases like these.
It's only in the remembering  and telling of such stories that they live again. So maybe.... someone else can learn from them.

Friday, January 8, 2010

Missing Kids

Today I had a case not too far from a place where a young girl,  Lindsey Baum, was abducted.

The location I was headed to was far off the beaten path... so I left for my case early, hoping I'd have time to have a look around and see if I  could get a feel of the area Lindsey disappeared from or where she could be.

On the missing child case, I was  so unsuccessful...  I am now back on laptop by the fire... 12 hours later, no closer to Lindsey.

On the other case however-- the one I was being paid to investigate-,  I  accomplished my goals... and feel good helping a broken person get made whole again with the assist of competent, compassionate attorneys and medical professionals.

Personal Injury Investigation is right up my alley.
Emotionally, I can handle almost anything the human body, or net, can dish out... including

Once my camera lens is focused on an injury, I feel nothing but the desire to focus. When I am conducting an interview in which a victim is broken, I am all about the pathway to healing.

However,... get me involved in a case involving a missing kid.... and  the hair on the back of my neck stands on end.

So this is not a pleasant  story I am about to link you to.
It is, however, an informative, necessary, time-relevant link about a conference in Portland Oregon.
I think this article does a great job showing how serious and tragic the problem really is.


Thursday, January 7, 2010

Explosive Domestics

I've been a busy  Private Investigator this week, not just on Personal Injury cases -- also on Domestics. These are the most volatile of all investigations, particularly for Police Officers. They are among the top, if not THE top cause of death on Police calls.

Private Investigators rarely, if ever, enter homes when both combative spouses are there. They usually work for one side or the other. They are not dispatched to deescalate two combative alleged lovers. We have it much easier than Police on domestics and for that I am grateful.

Private Investigators are usually hired to uncover cheating spouses -- cheating in terms of fidelity or financial fraud. Often, we're hired in custody disputes -- to prove one spouse is using drugs, or another isn't talking care of a kid when he/she is supposed to. Many are the times a new partner... an unknown quotient... moves into a house and a background check is requested. Or imperative, when children are involved,imho.

At times, I have been hired to observe custody transfers in public places. I am one part of a team, all placed in position, each with a unique function... while we observe one estranged spoused deliver the children to another estranged spouse in a public lare like a parking lots or coffee shop.

Child custody transfers can be be volatile.
Even deadly.

The former and deceased Tacoma Police Chief David Brame shot his wife Crystal  in the head and then himself during one such custody transfer. The children were waiting in one car while dad shot mom in the other car. I was about three blocks away from the location where and when this happened. I recall refusing to believe a Police Chief could go crazy and commit such a horrific crime. But it's true. Google it.

Domestic disputes are never to be taken lightly. When one person leaves another, or cheats on another, the one left behind either lives through it or self-destructs. In the case of the latter, the self destruction may  take the form of suicide, homicide, or both.

You probably haven't heard of the case I am linking you to. There is black humor in it and I am posting it -- not to make light of such deadly situations.  Rather to show what insane situations people go to in the name of love.


Saturday, January 2, 2010

Sprayed By A Skunk

He was an idiotic and moronic guy, only he didn't know it. Not because, in my opinion,  something was wrong with his brain. Something was wrong with his character. I think he was idiotic and moronic by decision, more than default.
At first impression,  he seemed fully capable and very intelligent to people he met, including me... way back when I shook his hand for both the first and last time.

We met just once over lunch at fancy hotel in downtown Seattle. It was on one of those Emerald City summer days, the sun glowed, the whole city was a sparkling green jewel. We were on a patio overlooking Elliott Bay.

He achieved a rather high position for someone so young in a political party.... though his was not my party of choice at the time. But that didn't matter to me. I was a mercenary then.

"Like your suit" I said, and noted how quickly his smiled broadened.
"Armani's newest collection" he said.
"Whoa" I replied, "and you're how old? 21?"
"24..., but who's counting? " he laughed.

Now I don't drink on the job.  This guy did quite a bit.
On his second round, I watched his personality do a Jekyll and Hyde.
I recall most of that conversation to this day just as vividly as I recall him stirring the lime and ice cubes in his drink with the little red sword that skewered three green olives.
The more he talked, the more I nodded and that made him talk more.
The more questions I asked, the more he disclosed.

He spoke rapidly and in a hushed tone.
He told me who.... and what.. he wanted investigated on "behalf of his employer, a political candidate."
When I asked "Why investigate these particular people?"
He said these words.
"I want to destroy their character and careers."

He said money was no object, with one stipulation. We'd have to work on a cash only basis.

"No green paper trails," he confided with a sly smile.

When I asked who'd pay the cash, "the candidate" or him, he said he would. He also said there would be no record of our ever having met.

While I found his lubricated monologue and drunken revelations entertaining in a sick, crane-your neck-at-a-car accident kind of way, I decided not to join his team and passed on his recruitment offer. And just to up the drama quotient, I told him I wasn't in... right there at lunch. He was almost through his third drink.

He was seriously p.o'.ed.
I knew it was not a good move to say "No" to a drunk. Especially a 23 year old drunk in an Armani who thinks he's John Gotti.
It would've been an easier out just to say, "Lemme' think it over and get back to you."
However,  I just wanted to see what would happen if someone just said "No" to him.

 He stared at me like he didn't understand, then he glared at me when he did. He sucked down the last of his drink.
The only words he said were, "Fine, you'll be shlorry."
He got up, walked away from the table and he left the bill for me to pay.

His drinks were more expensive than my enitre meal.
I paid by credit card, happy to have the record of our encounter, wrote his name on the bill for tax deduction and "other" potential purposes. Then I watched him stumble back through the hotel and no doubt back to his room for some drying out... or liquoring up.

Now, that was one idiotic and moronic man.
Fortunately, he made no threats against anyone I felt compelled by law to report.
He just got filed away in my short term  memory bank...
because the very next time I heard about the guy was after he was fired from the candidate's campaign. I didn't hear about him because he was fired.
I heard about him because he was arrested.
For bank robbery.
Apparently he'd been robbing banks in his spare time.
Including the time he was working for the election.

I thought of lunch with him on the fancy hotel patio in his bank-financed Armani suit, drunk as a skunk.
And when I said no to Pepe Le Pew, he "sprayed" me with the bill.

Last I heard, he's still behind bars. Appears robbing banks in multiple states is a serious Federal Offense.

To me, he was both brilliant and moronic, a genius and an idiot.
Jekyll and Hyde.
There's a little bit of all of that in each of us.
Alcohol fuels the fires of alter egos, drugs do the same. Utlimately both incinerate the character and soul with continued use.
Add an obsessive lust, or just a practical need, for money to the volatile equation.... and you have combustion.