Author’s Note: With my thanks to the editorial staff at The New Americana. This is one of the chapters in my newly released book “How The *Bleep* Did You Find Me?” It’s available at Amazon.com.
Possibly the one variety of skips that forces me to use all of my investigative chops is when I am asked for my assistance in fugitive recoveries. Yes, I’m talking bounty hunters.
Unlike the standard garden variety skip trace, this brand of “prey” has a vested, almost maniacal interest in staying hidden. And, as anyone who has ever watched prime time television knows, these people are not going to give up without a fight.
Because of their, shall we say “colorful” histories, the chances of finding them via recent credit applications, vehicle purchases, employment or professional licenses are somewhere between slim and none, and slim has just left for lunch.
One such case was Melvin. How he’d managed to talk a judge into even granting him bail on a serious felony charge was a mystery enough, but, true to form, he’d decided that he’d rather not attend his sentencing hearing because he was going to go away for a long, long time.
The recovery agent had spent weeks in surveillance of Melvin’s last known address and the addresses of his family and known “associates” in town. No luck. And Melvin was enough of a certified bad actor, that none of his acquaintances would even admit to having seen him for fear of reprisal.
By the time I was brought in on the case, the leads had all but dried up. Melvin knew better than to go anywhere near social media and he’d put the word out to anyone who “worked with” him to stay off the web.
It was time to bring in the big guns (um, that would be me).
The profile I started building on Melvin was far more detailed than my average garden variety skip. I not only profiled him, but I also built a profile for every family member I could find as well as anyone who had shared addresses with him in the last 10 years.
This was going to be a huge file and a very labor intensive search. No surprise running Melvin. His address history was very small type and 8 pages long. That man didn’t stay anywhere longer than 2 or 3 months. Didn’t own a car. Had a rap sheet longer than Santa’s list (and was probably on the naughty list anyway).
Melvin didn’t own a car. Lost his drivers license years ago for repeated infractions – DUI, accidents, no insurance. And as the leader of his gang, Melvin was generally chauffeured around by one of his henchmen or girlfriends anyway.
Credit cards? Pfft. Melvin was cash only – who needs a Visa when you’re carrying big wads of drug money?
The bonding agent told me that he’d even talked to Melvin’s family in Georgia without any luck. And then he mentioned that he didn’t think his mom was telling him the truth when she said she had no idea where her son was. I agreed. No matter how much trouble you’re in, some way, somehow, your mama almost always knows how to reach you.
Georgia was where Melvin was born and went to high school. Mama had lived there all her life and, from what I could tell, hadn’t ever ventured more than 50 miles away from her birthplace.
His mama and daddy owned their home in that little town. All their cars were registered at their home address of 20 years.
A profile of his daddy showed a straight and narrow, hard working man. Out of the service in the 70’s, he’d married his high school sweetheart, settled down in their hometown and started a family.
That’s why, when I pulled his mama’s information, I was pleasantly surprised to see that less than a month ago, her name and information came up on an apartment lease…. here in Colorado.
Just in case, I ran a sighting program for the license plates of every car his “associates” owned through another one of my special databases. No, it’s not an Internet myth, there really IS a program that tracks your license plate and prints out map coordinates of where it was last “seen” by traffic or security cameras.
And….I have that program.
Even better, the vehicle owned by his number three in charge had been spotted at that very apartment complex where Mama has her apartment lease several times in the past few weeks.
Will wonders never cease?
A phone call to the agent….and then a couple of flash bang grenades later, Melvin was on his merry way back to jail as a stopover to a long prison stay.
Oh the things we can learn from Melvin:
1. If you really want to disappear, do not let family know where you are. I have lost count of the number of grandmothers who are more than happy to tell me where their grandson or granddaughter were sent the last Christmas card (that they never thanked them for, the ingrates).
2. Also, don’t have a family member put your lease in their name. For being as crafty as Melvin was in many ways (no credit cards, no vehicle), when it came to a roof over his head, he wasn’t that smart.
3. Main drags, highways, shopping centers and apartment complexes are the best places to have your license plate snapped by that tracking program.
4. Remember, if I am looking for you, I’m not going to just stop with you. I’m going to look at anybody you’ve ever shared an address with for any length of time, too.