In the late 2000s, I received a call from a detective in Prescott, Arizona. They were investigating a series of murders of gay men there. She had information that the man was in the Seattle area.
“Do you think you could help get this guy?” she asked.
“Of course,” I said.
She and her partner were going to fly up in the next week. I told her we’d be ready for them.
Once they’d arrived and were settled, she filled me in.
“There have been a few gay men murdered in Prescott,” she said. “A guy was in jail and told two different inmates he’d done it, but the prosecutor wouldn’t charge based on that.”
Give me a break. If you have two separate inmates telling you the same thing, and they don’t know about each other, you hook that guy up. I understand being cautious, but some of my best arrests have been made through jailhouse snitches. You have to corroborate the information they’re giving you and see if there is any way they could have gotten that information anywhere else. If that works out, you’re good.
We formulated a plan. We’d approach this guy with an undercover detective and see if he’d talk about the crimes.
We looked for the guy for a few days but couldn’t locate him. Finally, the detectives had to go back.
About a month later, I got another call from the Prescott detective.
“We have information the guy is in jail in Bellingham,” she told me. “Do you know anyone there you can refer me to?”
“Refer you?” I said. “Hell, no. We’ll still help.”
They made arrangements to fly back up. In the meantime, I formulated a plan. We would have two undercover detectives, in this case, Todd Jacobson and Dave Redeman, get booked into the Whatcom County Jail. We’d have them placed into the nurse’s area and then bring in the suspect. They would start up a conversation and see what happened.
The day arrived, and we all went to Bellingham. We went to Bellingham PD. They transported Jacobson and Redeman separately to the jail, into the booking area, and book them.
Jacobson went first. He arrived, was fingerprinted, and photographed like any other inmate. Then he was put in a jail jumpsuit and taken to the nurse’s area.
Jacobsen wore a wire. My partner and I were outside in a car. We monitored the wire.
After a few minutes, the suspect was brought in. As we expected, the suspect initiated a conversation.
“What are you in for?” he asked Jacobson.
“A gay guy touched my nephew,” Jacobson said. “I beat the fuck out of him.”
“I killed some f*gs in Arizona,” the suspect said.
I was stunned. We got an admission in less than five minutes.
The Prescott detectives were very happy. Jacobson went to Arizona and testified at the trial. The guy was convicted.