As Christmas approaches, we remember a few of our favorite investigation stories that occurred during the holidays, from the silly to the heartfelt.
Story #1: Serving Christmas Divorce Papers to a Happy Jailer
Several years ago, an angry soon-to-be-ex-wife told her attorney that she wanted divorce papers served on her soon-to-be-ex-husband on Christmas Day. No other day would do. Not Christmas Eve, not the day after Christmas. Had to be Christmas Day. The divorce papers were to be her Christmas gift to the husband whom she had recently learned was keeping a girlfriend on the side.
The attorney contacted us and asked if we’d be willing to fulfill her Christmas wish. After hearing the story, we said yes. The husband was a deputy in a local jail, and was scheduled to work on Christmas Day.
That day, we drove to the jail, politely asked for him, and after he confirmed his identity, we served him the papers.
He read the first page, looked up at us, grinned, then exclaimed, “This might be the best Christmas gift I’ve ever had!”
Story #2: The Rancher Who Was Staring at 48 Years in Prison
Eight years ago, an attorney hired us to prove that his client (who became our client as well) had not aimed and fired a gun directly at a couple who had intruded on his land. In September, the rancher had been charged with two counts of attempted first-degree murder and was currently incarcerated. The D.A. was hot to find him guilty, which meant our client might not see freedom for 24 years minimum, 48 years maximum.
This rancher had never done anything criminal in his entire life. Had never even gotten a speeding ticket. He and his family were devastated at the accusations, and the possibility of his being in prison for decades to come.
This was a physically demanding, gritty case where we searched acres and acres of cold ranch land (a little over 800 acres to be exact) in bone-chilling late fall and winter temperatures. We used metal detectors to meticulously search laid-out crime scene areas where we believed (after consulting with a ballistics expert) the slugs may have fallen. It was critical to find these slugs—their placement would show the rancher had fired warning shots, not intentionally lethal shots.
Burrs worked their way up through the soles of our shoes, our bodies ached from hours of bending over, searching the ground, fighting disappointment whenever we hit false leads (years ago, parts of the land had been a dump, so the metal detectors kept pinging that they’d found metal, and we’d dig to find not slugs, but rusted bedsprings, nails, and the like).
Then one day, we found the first slug! Then the second, the third…finally the fourth! Out there on those hundreds of acres of chilly prairie, we whooped and hollered with joy! The rancher’s mother heard us and ran, tears streaming down her face, to see if we’d found the evidence to prove her son’s innocence.
The D.A. dropped the more serious charges, and the rancher was released on a much-lower bond on Christmas Eve. His family had an especially meaningful Christmas that year.
Story #3: The Young Father Facing Months in Jail
One Christmas Eve, Shaun (Gums, Gams and Gumshoes co-author, former PI, and now a criminal defense attorney) went to court for the initial appearance of a young father accused of a restraining order violation on his ex-wife. Without a lower bond, he could lose his job, his home, and miss opportunities to spend time with his sons. The young father, who told Shaun he was innocent of the charges, was facing up to six months in jail if found guilty on all counts.
Shaun pointed out to the judge that, at worst, the young man was guilty of contacting his ex-wife so that he could obtain some much-needed antibiotic medicine for the youngest son, who had a bad ear infection. The judge saw through the ex-wife’s hysterics and false accusations, and set bail at a Christmas Eve bargain of $50 cash.
We were asleep last night when awoken by the beeping of Shaun’s cell phone. The young man had texted Shaun to let him know he’d been released from jail and would be spending Christmas with his sons. We didn’t mind being woken up—it was a terrific way to start Christmas Day.
For those who celebrate it, have a wonderful Christmas, Writing PIs
Click on above banner to go to Amazon page (copyright Colleen Collins)
All rights reserved by Colleen Collins and Shaun Kaufman. Please do not copy/distribute any images noted as copyrighted or licensed.