Archive for June 2014

Shoe impression leads to arrest, true story, by Daniel Pastre, author of Justice and Closure.

While working as a detective for the Cottonwood Police Department, I was called to a burglary scene at a local heating and air conditioning company. It was a substantial crime with over $30,000 in missing tools, equipment, and new a/c units. The perpetrator had gained access by kicking in the rear door to the business. I observed tire impressions in the dirt yard and a faint shoe impression on the door. Using a portable light set at a 45 degree angle for the purpose of enhancement, I took a photo of the shoe’s tread pattern with a digital camera. Next, I used clear contact paper to lift the print. Now, I had a perfect copy of it on both camera and contact paper. Then, I photographed the tire pattern and made a plaster cast of it.

Upon canvassing the neighborhood, one person saw a GMC pick-up truck in the area in the early morning. The only details he remembered were that it was blue, had a white camper shell, and dated between 1971-1979. I sent a copy of the shoe impression to Scottsdale Crime Lab. who has the largest data base of shoe treads in the country. Within several hours, I knew the shoe brand, size, and the years it was made. It should be noted that a shoe impression is like a latent finger print; no two are alike. This is due to wear and marks on the bottom of the shoe. Now, all I needed was to find the shoe to match it to my evidence. I sent a teletype describing the possible suspect vehicle to all Arizona agencies. Maricopa County responded that they had conducted a traffic stop with a truck matching the description and had arrested the driver on outstanding warrants. I telephoned Maricopa County jail and asked them to check the subject’s personal property for the type and size of his shoes. Bingo! I had a possible suspect.

Now, I just needed to interview him and hopefully recover the property. First, I went to the impound lot to check the truck. The tire pattern seemed to match. After photographing the truck, I searched inside and found a pair of pliers with the a/c company’s name inscribed on them. Armed with all this evidence, it was time to talk with the suspect. We met in an interview room at the jail. Both being seated at a table, I explained to him that I had evidence to connect him to a burglary in Cottonwood; however, I was here to give him the opportunity to help himself. I showed him the photo of the shoe mark on the door and held up his shoe that I had recovered from his personal property. I quoted case law regarding shoe impressions being equivalent to finger prints. Next, I told him that a witness had seen his truck at the crime scene, and his tire treads matched the impressions taken from the yard. Concluding, I said, “By the way, I also found these pliers in your truck.”Looking up knowing I had him, he asked, “So, why are you here?” “To recover the property and give you a chance”, I answered and went on to explain two different scenarios; one being that the suspect was uncooperative and refused to help recover the stolen property, and the other reporting that the suspect was remorseful, cooperative, and furnished the location of the stolen property. Informing him that I had no legal authority to make any deals, I asked him what he thought would be more favorable in his case to the County Attorney and Judge? Staring at me for several seconds, he finally said, “I’m screwed.” He reluctantly gave me the name of the person who had helped him. He said his accomplice lived in Tempe. Upon completion of the interview and officially charging him with the crime,

I left for Tempe where I met with Tempe Police Detectives. They located an address for the accomplice. I prepared an affidavit for a search warrant and went to see a judge at his home, for it was after hours. The location in question was a noted gang banger hang-out, so I was assisted by the Special Criminal Apprehension Team. They conducted an aggressive entry into the residence and quickly handcuffed everyone inside, securing the premises. Next, I conducted a search inside the house and backyard. We recovered all the stolen property and other stolen items. After everything was photographed and categorized, I telephoned the a/c company with the good news and asked them to come and collect their items.Total time spent on the investigation was approximately 72 hours.

Daniel Pastre, author, Justice and Closure

Gun fight, a true story, Daniel Pastre, Author of Justice and Closure.

While on routine patrol on a week day morning at about two a.m. in the city of Cottonwood, Arizona, I drove by the self-serve car wash on Hwy 89A. I observed an older, battered, tan Cadillac parked in one of the stalls. A man was standing behind the open trunk suspiciously holding a lit propane torch. I radioed in to dispatch giving my location and the circumstances. I pulled in directly behind the subject and lit him up with my brights and spot light to provide a tactical advantage, then quickly exited my patrol car and observed that he was wearing a holstered hand gun on his hip (perfectly legal in Arizona). Using my lapel microphone, I requested precautionary back-up. Dispatch advised that back-up was approximately ten minutes out. Upon approaching the subject, he appeared to be very nervous shifting his weight from side to side. Mentally, I was preparing for any possible scenario to follow. I asked him, “What are you doing?” He didn’t answer, but his hand went down to his gun. Instinctively in a split second, I drew my Sig. 45 and had it pointed at his chest before he cleared leather. Using loud harsh street language, I ordered him to lift his hands above his head and drop to his knees. With all my senses honed on his next move, my index finger was tightening on the trigger. For a moment that seemed to hang in the air, he froze with his hand still resting on the butt of his gun. Finally, dropping his gaze, he complied. I held him at gun point until a back-up unit arrived. With another officer present, the suspect was handcuffed. Upon closer inspection of the open trunk of his car, there were numerous pieces of jewelry including rings, necklaces, bracelets, precious stones, and gold coins along with electronic devices such as radios, scanners, tape recorders, and cell phones. Also in the trunk was a suitcase containing several hand guns of different calibers. Since the suspect was now in custody and his vehicle would be impounded, case law allows an inventory search of the complete vehicle. Inside the driver’s compartment of the car, I found several baggies containing white powder that field-tested positive for methamphetamine. It didn’t take long to determine that the suspect was a “fence” trading methamphetamine for stolen property. As a result of the arrest, a letter of commendation was added to my file. However, what meant more to me was the fact that my training and confidence as a peace officer kept the suspect from being killed in a gun fight.

What makes a good detective, by Daniel Pastre, author of Justice and Closure

A detective/investigator needs a good foundation including experience and knowledge of Federal, State, and  Municipal laws. He must also respect and adhere to Constitutional and Civil Rights. Additionally important is the understanding of Case Law which are decisions upheld by the Supreme Court. These are the tools needed to conduct an investigation. Detectives solve cases by processing information. It begins at the crime scene by documenting and gathering evidence and leads to the long process of interviewing victims, witnesses, and suspects, All the information is put in chronological order and analyzed to plan a strategy. At this point, it is essential to maintain an open mind and avoid focusing on just one scenario or suspect. All other avenues need to be explored and eliminated before coming to a conclusion. Next, he prepares affidavits for search warrants.  Finally, the detective takes the case to the District/County Attorney for review. If the attorneys agree with the investigation, the detective can move forward and make an arrest.

Daniel Pastre, author of Justice and Closure