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Case Files: 63 Cans of Beer

Posted by Johnny Joe James on May 15, 2013 at 7:05 PM

I worked a case that involved a legal Mexican who invited a lady from Mexico to the states to be his spouse. About a year after they were married, they had a beautiful baby girl. However, during their brief marriage and during his wife’s pregnancy, she became more aware of his alcoholism and anger issues related to the alcoholism.


 Four months after the baby was born, the couple separated. She continued to let him see his daughter on a standard visitation schedule; however, the alcoholism and related anger issues continued to be a concern for her. Since she was not used to American customs, she continued giving this man his daughter for visitation but she spent every other weekend worrying that he could not actually care for an infant and that he was drinking in the presence of the baby. Even though he lived nearly 70 miles away from her, I placed his residence under mild surveillance based on my routine work schedule and my own visitation schedule with my little ones. However, it didn’t take too long to confirm her concerns.


During my first few mornings watching his residence, I was able to confirm the work schedule and location of the job that he was on. After I established his work schedule, I contacted the realtor that was selling his house. I posed as an interested buyer and had an opportunity to go inside and photograph his entire house. In the process, I noticed beer cans in the trash can. Therefore, I knew a weekly trash run was warranted.


That particular week was his week without the child and yes, there were plenty of beer cans within the trash. I met with the baby’s mother and confirmed my presence in the town that he lived in. She told me where he typically bought his beer and cigarettes and we discussed some of his routine habits.


State law prohibits taking someone’s trash until it is placed at the curb; then it is up for grabs. I then confirmed with the baby’s mother what day the trash was set out and I followed that up by contacting the trash service and pretending that I was house sitting for a friend on the next block over. The trash service also confirmed the day that the trash was set out. The trash day was Monday morning.


I waited for a Friday that the baby’s father was going to pick the baby up from a neutral location near the mother’s residence. I followed the baby’s father home. He didn’t go straight home. He went to eat and then hit the highway. When he got to the town he lived in I had an opportunity to video and photograph him taking pictures of the purchase of beer and cigarettes at the drive through window of the store that his soon-to-be ex-spouse told me he purchased his beer. I then followed him home where he unloaded the baby and his purchase and went inside. There was no more need for me to stay in that town; I knew Monday morning’s trash run would be a success.


 On Monday morning, I parked around the corner from his residence and when he left for work, I turned on my video camera and took photographs of the trash can as I approached it. I loaded the trash in my truck and then I went to a nearby car wash where I opened the trash. In all, there were 63 cans of beer in the trash…with dirty baby diapers, typical household trash and baby supplies.


Each bag was photographed (with date/time stamps). Overall, the next court hearing was reasonable. The father was ordered to get counseling for the alcoholism and for his efforts to control his drinking, he would still be able to see his child. The mother was relieved.


This is one more example of evidence in the trash that could have easily been overlooked. Note, any time you pull the trash, be sure to photograph its location and any numbers that are on the can. I didn’t have any problem with this because there was no question about whose can I took trash from.

Bryan L., OK

Categories: The Informer, Stories

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