It wasn’t even my case.
I mean…it was…but it wasn’t.
Part of what I do is catch on-line child predators.
I see the absolute worst of what people can do to children and hunt those who want to see what was done. But I also see victims get help. I see bad guys arrested. I see them tried and convicted and sent to prison.
This case was the first I had generated that fell outside my jurisdiction. I had never worked with these particular officers before and had no idea how they did their work.
I showed up for the briefing and got introduced as “…the guy who dumped this on us.” Strained chuckles all around! Cops aren’t stupid, they know child pornography exists, but few want to work a case that could take a year to get to trial. They simply don’t want to swim in the filth that long.
The briefing was…uh…SHORT. Mine tend to go at least an hour but the detective in charge had us in and out in less than five minutes.
“Uh…what about his job? Will he even be home?” I asked.
“I don’t know. Maybe,” the detective said.
“Anybody else at the house?”
“I don’t know. Maybe.”
“Dogs? Like vicious Trey-eating dogs?”
I’m a high information detective. I want to know everything about a suspect and location. Who lives there? Children? Weapons? Criminal history? What kind of cars? Where do they work and what hours? Animals? Hell, even what kind of music they like (which can be good to know when I’ve got their computer cracked open searching for files).
This less-is-just-how-we-do-business approach did not make me happy.
When we arrived at the target’s house, we knocked. And knocked. And knocked.
Eventually, a woman answered. We told her who we were looking for, she said he was still asleep, and promptly tried to close the door.
There were four of us. We shoved the door open and went inside, two to the right and me and another guy to the left.
It was then I heard the most ferocious banging I’ve heard since I was marching quads in Drum Corps International in 1982.
My first assumption was that the suspect was throwing crap around looking for a weapon.
My own weapon out, I headed for the bedroom. As I went down the short, narrow hallway, I passed a bathroom and threw an eye in to make sure he wasn’t there.
With his laptop computer.
And a 15-inch crescent wrench.
He was smashing the wrench against the laptop, having broken both corners of the bathroom vanity off while banging the computer against them.
I don’t remember exactly what I said, I’m sure it was pithy and authoritative, but actually probably something like, “What the fuck?”
I grabbed him by the collar and yanked him out of the bathroom.
Note to self: tangled together in a tight hallway, gun in right hand, bad guy in left hand…c-wrench in bad guy’s right hand, still swinging through the air? Bad tactical arrangement.
The detective I was with, thankfully, blasted into the hallway and we snatched both computer and wrench before anybody got hurt.
“What the hell are you doing?” I asked.
And he said? Come on, you can guess this one.
‘Cause I always do nothing with a giant wrench, a laptop bent in the middle, and two broken vanity corners.
He told me later that he had tried to destroy the computer because of anger issues. He was upset his wife had answered the door. It didn’t have anything at all to do with the copious amounts of child pornography we found on the machine.
Or what about the guy we arrested a couple weeks ago, who blamed his child pornography on arousal problems with his wife? (As though looking at a five-year old could get the machinery working.) Or the guy I had two years ago who, after being convicted as a sex offender and serving his time, sent nearly 30,000 text messages in three months to underage girls? Or the guy who said his brother-in-law had downloaded all that kiddie porn…except for the thousands of images I found on his computer downloaded after his brother-in-law was arrested?
I was thinking about all this today after reading some articles about an editor I once knew who pleaded guilty last December to three child molestation charges. At one time, he had been a well-respected editor in the science fiction/fantasy/horror worlds, but in 2000, he was charged with the three counts.
Yeah, you read that right. Charged in 2000…pleaded guilty in December, 2013.
He did everything he could to delay the trial that he said would clear him of any wrong doing (that’s a clue, people). He found religion, he tried to emigrate to Israel, and he filed more than 370 motions and complaints about how he was being treated. He ended up getting incredibly lenient bond conditions and house arrest (don’t travel out of state, don’t have any direct or indirect contact with minors, and call the authorities once a week to let them know he was still in Atlanta).
But he couldn’t even follow those simple rules. In 2011, he was caught in Connecticut (which, last I checked was not in Georgia), in a hotel room with a 14-year old boy, who answered the door for the police wearing nothing but a towel.
He fought extradition back to Georgia for two years. Two damned years! When he finally arrived back in the Peach State, he pleaded and took 36 months of house arrest (no prison because of massive health issues) and was told, again, no direct or indirect contact with any minors.
Which he allegedly violated again in the last couple of days…hence the new articles.
I look back, from the viewpoint of more than 250 hours of training and two+ years of chasing these guys down, and see all the warning signs. Things that meant nothing to me in 2000 that are red flags and shrill whistles now. Behavior, repeated behavior, excuses and lies, that I’ve seen constantly from all of them.
Every. Single. One.
It’s a tough job, dealing with child pornography and those who travel to have sex with children, but one that I love dearly. Listening to the clickety-click-click of the cuffs being slapped on? Not even Rush live in concert is better than that. I love arresting these guys.
Why? Because, yeah, children need to be protected.
But also? I love the hunt. I love the paperwork and analysis, tracking bits and pieces here to there and back again, figuring out how and where they’re hiding and where they’ll go next.
What did Kilgore say? “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.” Well, I love the smell of the hunt, earthy and dirty, adrenaline-filled. And I love watching their eyes early in the morning when they open the front door and see me and my team. I always see the wheels start turning as they invent the reasons why they did what they did (which they usually blame on the children).
I love hunting those who are hunters. They are predators and chances are extremely high that those who are merely looking at child pornography now will eventually molest children. They hunt for children and I, in turn, hunt for them. Are they smarter than me? Can they slip past me? Yeah, probably some can, but thus far, I’ve done pretty well.
And I’m only getting better.