Detective Dan takes us on an epic small-town manhunt as he tracks down a notorious car thief who makes the mistake of stealing the rims off a teenager’s prized possession: his first car. This one has it all: burner phones, face tattoos, and a golden Honda Accord. This is the season finale!
The Detective: Detective Dan was formerly a K9 handler and Violent Crimes detective at the same Small Town police department as his brother, Dave. Dan regards his years as a K9 handler to be the most rewarding of his career. He is now retired.Read Transcript
Dan: [00:00:06] We have to exhaust every avenue we have right now to find him. I know that he’s using dope and that he’s a loose cannon and that he’s unpredictable. There’s no way he’s going back to prison. He said, “The chase is going to be epic.”
Yeardley: [00:00:24] Hi, there. I’m Yeardley.
Dan: [00:00:25] I’m Dan.
Dave: [00:00:27] I’m Dave.
Paul: [00:00:27] And I’m Paul.
Yeardley: [00:00:28] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dan: [00:00:30] Dave and I are identical twins-
Dave: [00:00:32] -and retired detectives from Small Town, USA.
Paul: [00:00:35] And I’m a veteran cold case investigator who helped catch the Golden State killer using a revolutionary DNA tool.
Dan: [00:00:41] Between the three of us, we’ve investigated thousands of crimes, from petty theft to sexual assault, child abuse to murder.
Dave: [00:00:47] Each case we cover is told by the detective who investigated it, offering a rare personal account of how they solved the crime.
Paul: [00:00:55] Names, places, and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of victims and their families.
Dan: [00:01:00] And although we’re aware that some of our listeners may be familiar with these cases, we ask you to please join us in continuing to protect the true identities of those involved.
Dave: [00:01:08] Out of respect for what they’ve been through.
In Unison: [00:01:10] Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:01:21] Today on Small town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:27] Good afternoon.
Yeardley: [00:01:29] Good afternoon, you. We have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:33] I am here as well.
Yeardley: [00:01:34] I’m so excited that you’re here. I’m always excited when you’re sitting across the table for me.
Dave: [00:01:38] Likewise.
Yeardley: [00:01:39] I don’t really buy that, Dave. I don’t really buy that likewise, [Dave chuckles] but I will. I will take it. We have the one and only, Paul Holes.
Paul: [00:01:49] Hello, hello. How’s everybody doing?
Yeardley: [00:01:51] I just got to say we absolutely love having you in the fourth chair. PH, you class up the joint. [Paul laughs] So, welcome to Episode 13 of Season 11. It’s a bonus, because we usually do 12 episodes a season as you know. This case comes to us from the OG team. What I love about this episode is that it captures why we started Small Town Dicks as a podcast. And that was to highlight good police work and sometimes bad, and give our listeners a window into how crimes are solved, from soup to nuts. Here’s another brilliant example of good old-fashioned detective work. Detective Dan, I’m handing it to you.
Dan: [00:02:40] All right, so this happened several years ago. I was a detective at the time. I was working quite a few stolen vehicle cases. There are certain makes and models of vehicles that are very popular among car thieves.
Yeardley: [00:02:53] There were certain years, I remember you guys talking about this that were particularly stealable.
Dan: [00:02:59] Yeah. Like early 90s Hondas and Toyotas, they only made like four or five different variations of their car keys. When you’ve only got that few iterations of what an ignition or a door lock would be like, then what these car thieves do is they take a blank key that you would go get– If you’re going to make an extra car key for your kids or whatever, they take that blank and they use like a Dremel tool to grind down on that key blank and make it really general. It’s called a shaved key, because it would actually turn over the engine and start the car. So, now you don’t see so many early 90s Hondas out there, but they still are out there. And same with Toyota. I mean, it was easy pickings for car thieves. So, I’m working a lot of stolen car cases and you start to see patterns.
[00:03:51] I am aware of many car thieves who they come and go. And usually when they go, it means they’ve gone to prison. You have some names that are kind of legendary around your jurisdiction, and you get like five stolen Hondas in a night, and you’re thinking to yourself, “Who just got out of prison who’s a really good car thief?” So, getting into this case, the car gets stolen just about 01:00 in the morning and the car owner, Will, doesn’t realize the car is gone until the morning when they wake up and they notice the car is not there anymore. Will’s car has been early 90s Honda Civic and it’s got nice custom gold wheels.
Yeardley: [00:04:30] And Will’s car is sort of vintagey. So, it’s at least how many years old?
Dan: [00:04:34] It’s about 20 years old at this point. This is like his first car. It’s his baby. He earned all the money to put those custom gold wheels on this car.
Yeardley: [00:04:44] Oh. How old is Will?
Dan: [00:04:45] Will is in his teens.
Yeardley: [00:04:46] Oh, got it.
Dan: Our community service officer, his name is TJ, he takes this stolen car report, and TJ notices that the neighbor has surveillance cameras on his house. He says, “Hey, neighbor. Will, your neighbor, got his car stolen last night. Can I take a look at your footage?” And neighbor says, “Sure thing.” It’s not terrible footage, but it’s not great footage. You can see Will’s car’s parked right out in front of the house. You see this white Dodge Durango slowly drive by this car. You can’t see anybody inside the car, because it’s dark and the windows are tinted on this Dodge Durango, but they’re going very slowly through this neighborhood, and they specifically slow down when they see Will’s car parked on the street. So, this Dodge Durango drives by, turns around– You can tell it’s turning around. It’s out of view of the camera, but you can see the headlights panning around the neighborhood. So, you can tell this car is turning around. And all of a sudden, it reappears.
[00:05:52] When it reappears, I notice that on the back passenger side window, the little wing window on the suspect vehicle is duct taped. That is significant. We have multiple white Dodge Durangos in our city, but that’s something that’s going to stand out. So, I take note of that. Officer TJ also notes in his report that at the end of his shift, they found this stolen car, Will’s car, and it was ditched several miles away from Will’s house. The tires are missing, the battery’s missing, stereo and speakers are gone, license plate missing.
Yeardley: [00:06:34] So, they stripped that one.
Dan: [00:06:36] Yeah. These custom wheels are gone. Will is pretty pissed off about these wheels being gone. And I get it. I’m like, “Dude, it was your baby, man.” Officer TJ gives me the surveillance footage and we look at it. What I do is I send out a department wide email with still photos and actual video of the suspect vehicle, this white Dodge Durango with the duct tape. Within minutes, this guy named Brian, who’s our animal control officer calls my desk phone and he’s like, “Hey, I know where that car is. I’m in the neighborhood where I’ve seen that car before. I’m going to drive by and see if it’s there. Why don’t you just hang on the line with me?” And I was like, “Yeah, sure.” So, he drives by and it’s in a mobile home park, probably 100 mobile homes in this park. Pretty big.
[00:07:25] He goes, “Yep, it’s here right now. You want me to just hang out by the entrance to make sure if it leaves, then I can follow it and bring you right to it?” And I said, “Heck yeah, brother.” [Yeardley chuckles] I drive out to this mobile home park and the car is still there, hasn’t left. I knock on the door of this mobile home and I talk to a girl named Brooke. Brooke is the registered owner of this white Dodge Durango. And so, I start with the questions. “Hey, where was your car last night?” She says, “Oh, I let a guy borrow it.” I’m expecting that answer and I said, “Okay, what’s his name?” She says, “All I know is his name is Frankie.” I said, “You let somebody borrow your car and you don’t even know their last name?” She says, “Yeah, I mean, I’ve seen him around.”
[00:08:15] Brooke tells me she let Frankie borrow the car the previous night before midnight, and Frankie brought it back in the morning, and that’s it. I said, “Well, how do you communicate with Frankie?” And she said, “Oh, on Facebook messenger.” I said, “Do you mind if I look at the messages?” And she said, “I deleted them all.” That’s a red flag to me.
Yeardley: [00:08:39] Sure.
Dan: [00:08:40] I don’t delete my Facebook messages. I said, “Well, can you show me Frankie’s Facebook page?” She opens it up and I recognize him. I’m like, “Oh, Frankie got out of prison.” So, Frankie, in the first couple of years that I was a patrol officer was prolific car thief. Four or five cars a night.
Yeardley: [00:09:03] Wow.
Dan: [00:09:04] Just turning and burning. Basically, it was to raise money for his drug habits. But also, Frankie just likes stealing stuff.
Yeardley: [00:09:13] Like the thrill of it?
Dan: [00:09:14] Yeah. Frankie, I don’t think he’s ever had a real job. Frankie is very good at what he does, which is steal cars. Frankie also just happens to have a drug addiction. I’m sensitive to that, bit at the same time, you don’t just get to go victimize people all over town.
Yeardley: [00:09:31] How old is Frankie?
Dan: [00:09:33] Frankie is in his late 20s. Brooke shows me Frankie’s Facebook page, I recognize him, I run him through our dispatch. Frankie has a warrant for his arrest out of a neighboring state for a parole violation. He’s on parole for stealing cars.
Yeardley: [00:09:53] Which is why he was put in prison for stealing cars, and he got out on parole, and now he’s stealing cars, and now there’s a warrant for him.
Dan: [00:10:00] Yeah, he’s stealing cars again, and he left the state without telling his parole officer, and that’s a violation of your parole.
Paul: [00:10:06] And he is violating his parole by stealing more cars. [laughs]
Dan: [00:10:10] Yeah, he’s committing more crimes. I make a phone call to his parole officer in the neighboring state and he confirms, “Yeah.” When Frankie shows back up here, he’s going away for two more years, like automatic. So, Brooke says, “We got a call from the mobile home park manager while Frankie had the car. Basically, I got a driving complaint, but I wasn’t driving the car. Frankie had it. So, he’s the source of the complaint, and I wanted to talk to him about it. Frankie, actually, when he brought the car back, he apologized to my mother for driving recklessly in the mobile home park.” It’s like 10 miles an hour. There are speed bumps. Frankie’s driving like 35, 40 miles an hour through this mobile home park. He just doesn’t care. So, I just keep note of that driving complaint and file it away and say, “That’s corroborating evidence that Frankie was in control of that white Dodge Durango with the duct tape over the wing window.
Yeardley: [00:11:08] Yes.
Dan: [00:11:09] Brooke tells me, “Sometimes when Frankie comes over, like when he came over to borrow the car, he was with a girl named Christie. Christie drives a gold 1996 Honda Accord. Brooke says, “I think they’ve been staying at a local motel.” Brooke gives me the motel and I’m like, “Okay, I’m familiar with that motel.” I’m very familiar with that motel. We go there quite often. I tell Brooke, “This is your chance to get out in front of anything. Were you a part of any of the crimes that we suspect Frankie has committed?” Brooke says, “No, no, I wasn’t with him.” I don’t think she’s lying to me. I also don’t think she’s telling me everything.
Dan: [00:12:07] Brooke allows me to search through the white Durango. There’s really not much in there. There are a couple backpacks. I don’t recognize them to be stolen or anything, but I photograph them. But in the front seat, I find a receipt for a local sporting goods store, and it was in the time that Frankie had the white Dodge Durango, and it’s at the tune of $700. I’m thinking to myself, that’s probably a stolen credit card that he got from one of his vehicles break ins. Now I’ve got to go to that sporting goods store and look at the video, just to confirm absolutely that this is going to place Frankie in this car.
[00:12:51] I go to that sporting goods store, I get the video from that $700 transaction, and I recognize Frankie on there. Frankie’s got bright red hair and Frankie’s got very distinct tattoos. His name is actually tattooed on his neck. Frankie’s also with another male who has facial tattoos that I also recognize and his name is Kevin. They’re also with a female. I’m assuming that it’s this Christie that has brought Frankie over to Brooke’s house in the gold Honda, but I don’t know for sure at this point. I’m still trying to get a license plate on this gold Honda, so I can really identify who Christie is.
[00:13:32] Next thing I do is I go to this local motel that Brooke told me that Frankie and Christie had been staying at. The motel manager, she says the guy named Jake matching the description of Frankie rented two rooms for a couple nights.
Yeardley: [00:13:49] You’re thinking Frankie’s used a fake name and he’s chosen Jake?
Dan: [00:13:53] Yeah. I’m like, “Okay, so he checked into this hotel using a different name.” I run that name that the motel provided me. I run it through our local database, and it comes back as Jake was a victim of a car theft. It happened a couple of months prior. When his car got broken into, commercial driver’s license had been stolen, and a Ruger pistol was stolen. Victim tells me, “I have stayed at that motel before, but it’s been at least, like six months. If anybody’s staying there now under my name, they’re stealing my identity.” I’m like, “All right, I believe you.”
[00:14:31] Two nights later, just around midnight, our dispatch gets a call about a suspicious subject. The suspicious subject had approached a Honda that was parked in the street, and one of the neighbors just happened to be up and watched this and confronted this person. So, they have a confrontation. The suspect takes off, and our witness describes this guy and he’s describing Frankie.
Yeardley: [00:14:56] Well, you could read his name on his neck.
Dan: [00:14:58] Right. Frankie has worked out quite a bit while he was in prison. He’s muscular, but he’s also about 5’7″. He’s built like a fire hydrant, honestly. He is prison strong. He’s in good shape and he’s got red hair. The next day, Officer Justin, who later became Detective Justin, we’ve had him on the show. Justin comes back to my desk and says, “Hey, last night, after that suspicious subject call, I got sent to another call and on my way to this other call, I was behind a gold 1996 Honda Accord and I ran the plate.” I said, “Oh, did you?” [Yeardley giggles] He gives me the plate and it comes back to Christie. So, now I’ve identified Christie. I’ve also got a few addresses that I can start checking around for Christie where she hangs out, but it looks like she’s couch surfing a little bit.
[00:15:53] Officer Justin tells me, “By the way, while I was going to that other call and I was behind that gold Honda, they pulled into a convenience store.” It was about this time, I go out to this convenience store, they’re always great with us, they have really good surveillance cameras that capture the entrance to that store and I start watching video and who do I see on it?
Yeardley: [00:16:15] Frankie.
Dan: [00:16:16] I see Frankie, I see Kevin, and then I see two females. After I’d run Christie, I looked up her DMV photo and I see Christie is one of the people. This other female, I don’t recognize. I don’t know who it is. I never found out who it was, but they’re all four in this car together and they go inside. It’s plain as day. I can actually read the facial tattoos on Kevin. [Yeardley laughs] You can see Frankie’s neck tattoo, plain as day. Now I’ve got them in the city just hours before I came on my shift. Things are starting to come together. I’ve got probable cause for Frankie. Not only that, he’s got a warrant for his arrest.
[00:16:59] That morning, at 9:00 in the morning, we get two reports of stolen cars about a block from that convenience store. One is at a high school and one is at a grocery store that is near that high school. The car from the grocery store gets found at this park behind a building. Then we get the call about this car from the high school getting stolen also. I go t
the high school, I look at the video and the video is terrible. But I can tell that the person on the video walking through the parking lot and stealing this car has red hair. We also get another break in. The person on the video, who I’m assuming is Frankie at this point, he went to another vehicle and just simply broke into it and stole a bag. It was an athletic bag and it had the number 28 on it. So, it had the victim’s last name and his number for his baseball team. It was full of sporting equipment, so like baseball gloves, spikes, cleats, batting gloves. And all that stuff is expensive. So, we take a report on that.
[00:18:02] I’m letting everybody know in the department, “This is Frankie. I really want to find him, I need help. Just keep your eyes peeled.” Three hours after these reports come out about theft at the high school, I get anonymous call. This anonymous caller says, “Hey, there are people parting out a stolen car in the garage of this house right now.”
Yeardley: [00:18:24] That means they’re stripping it for parts, right?
Dan: [00:18:26] Yeah. I go out there with patrol officer and it’s like four or five apartments. But on the backside of this property, there’s a big carport, probably holds four or five different cars. The residents have turned it into a mechanic shop.
Yeardley: [00:18:41] Oh, like legit?
Dan: [00:18:44] No, not legit.
Yeardley: [00:18:45] No.
Dan: [00:18:45] Like, “I’ll work on your car if you give me $50 and a case of beer,” legit.
Yeardley: [00:18:49] [laughingly] Okay.
Dave: [00:18:50] That’s a better rate than you’re going to get at any mechanic.
Yeardley: [00:18:52] For sure.
Dan: [00:18:53] Yeah. This residence just happens to be 150 yards from where Will’s car gets found. I’m cognizant of that. I arrive at this place. I see there’s a vehicle that’s jacked up and being worked on by four gentlemen. They all look at me like, “I don’t even want to talk to you.”
Yeardley: [00:19:11] Is this the middle of the night?
Dan: [00:19:13] No, this is like 2:00 in the afternoon. I’m like, “Hey, fellas, I’m Detective Dan. I’m wondering if there’s been a couple of cars being worked on here in the last few days like a red Honda Civic.” None of them want to talk to me. They’re just like, “Yeah, I don’t know, man.” They’re just blowing me off. I run the license plate of the car that’s on the lift. I take a look at the VIN. Everything checks out. It’s not stolen. It belongs to one of the gentlemen that is working on the car. I hand out business cards to these guys, “Hey, you know what? If you have any information, please let me know. Give me a call, send me an email, text me, I don’t care.”
[00:19:47] I go back to the police station and 15 minutes later, I get a phone call from one of them. He says, “Hey, I didn’t want to say anything in front of those guys because I don’t want to be labeled a snitch, but I know who you’re looking for. And, yes, he was here. He parted out a red Honda Civic here a couple of nights ago and he took those wheels off and he put them on a gold 96 Honda Accord.” And he goes, “I think that car belongs to his girlfriend, Christie.” Now I’m looking for Christie’s car, because it’s carrying stolen property. Frankie’s been flagged in our system for a couple of days, but now I’ve got to flag Christie as well and her car. So, I put, we call it an ATL, Attempt to Locate, put that on her car and any law enforcement that shares our database. So, basically, anybody around us, neighboring agencies, when they run her car, it’ll pop up that she’s got an ATL on her and then they’ll contact me, and I can go interview Christie.
[00:20:43] And hopefully, Frankie’s in the car because want to talk to Frankie. Frankie’s killing me. Frankie knows that the police are on him, because those three guys who are working on cars that I contacted, what’s the first thing they’re going to do? They’re going to call Frankie and go, “Hey, the police were just here looking for you.”
Yeardley: [00:21:03] Even as one of them is ratted him out.
Dan: [00:21:06] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:21:06] “So I’m going to rat him out. Then I’m going to call him and tell him that you’re looking for him.”
Dave: [00:21:10] Well, that way he can say, “Look, I even told you within minutes of that detective leaving, I gave you a heads up that they were out here asking questions.”
Yeardley: [00:21:18] “It couldn’t have been me who snitched you out.”
Dave: [00:21:20] Like, “I got you, man. I don’t know what some other guy said.”
Paul: [00:21:23] What was this snitch’s motivation to give you a call?
Dan: [00:21:26] He doesn’t like Frankie. He thinks Frankie’s an asshole.[laughter]
Dan: [00:21:31] He’s rude, he bums dope off of people, he never pays them back. That’s the way Frankie is. He goes, “And I don’t like him.”
Yeardley: [00:21:38] Don’t be a rude criminal.
Dan: [00:21:38] Yeah. Etiquette.
Yeardley: [00:21:41] Etiquette.
Dan: [00:21:42] Yes.[laughter]
Dan: [00:22:01] So, like an hour after this contact with these guys who are working on the cars and I get this phone call from the anonymous source, our sheriff’s office gets a call about a suspicious vehicle that’s out in the rural area that’s northeast of our city. They run the plate and it’s the stolen Honda from the high school. It’s parked on this rural side road. It’s like a gravel road. Somebody calls it in and says, “That’s weird. That’s suspicious.”
Yeardley: [00:22:29] And is it stripped?
Dan: [00:22:31] It is not stripped. I find out about this. My dispatch did a great job. They call me right away and say, “Hey, I know you’re looking for Frankie. That’s stolen Honda just got located. It’s empty, but the sheriff’s office is sending units out there.” So, I grab a couple of detectives and I grab a couple patrol officers, and a neighboring agency’s K-9 unit and we go out to that car and we start searching around. There’s a little creek that is probably 15-feet wide that runs through there. Sometimes people go down there and fish. Sometimes people do other things down there, like do drugs. Sometimes people just chill down there. You just never know what you’re going to encounter when you go down there. So, we get out there, we start searching around. About 400 yards away, there’s a house. I’m like, “I’ll just go down there and I’ll knock on the door and see if anybody here saw anything.” I go down there. I recognize the owner of the house and I know that she’s an associate of Frankie’s.
Yeardley: [00:23:32] Oh.
Dan: [00:23:33] She is more than willing to tell me because she doesn’t want me around her house. She’s like, “I told him not to come around here anymore. He was here earlier today.” I said, “Well, what about that car over there, that stolen car that we just found?” She goes, “I don’t know. I ain’t saying anything. But I do know this. Christie and Frankie left together, and a guy named Kevin was with him, and they had a bunch of backpacks and duffel bags,” and that’s all she’ll tell me.
Yeardley: [00:24:00] You don’t know if they left in Christie’s car, for instance?
Dan: [00:24:03] I’m assuming they did. I think I’m just missing them. Everywhere I go, I’m just missing him. So, I hand out another card. I’m running low on cards at this point. I just tell her, I said, “Why don’t you have Frankie call me? You know how to get in touch with him. Why don’t you have Frankie call me?” Because nobody’s given me his contact info.
Yeardley: [00:24:20] Does he have contact info?
Dan: [00:24:22] He’s got a phone that he’s using, but it’s not in our database. It’s a new track phone that he’s got a burner, but everybody else has his information. They can get in touch with him and they know where he’s going. So, again, “Hey, have him call me.” And I leave. I thank all my patrol officers. We go check another couple of addresses. We go back to that property where they were working on the car back out there and they said, “He was here like 15 minutes ago.” [Yeardley giggles] I’m like, “God. Oh, my God. This guy is just a step in front of me and I cannot find this guy.”
Paul: [00:24:55] But that distance of the step is decreasing with each step you’re taking.
Dan: [00:25:00] It is. It’s decreasing so much that I get a phone call from Frankie. Frankie calls me up and says, “Hey, man, I don’t know who you are. Some people told me that you’re looking for me. I’ve been in this neighboring state for three weeks. Why are you trying to talk to me?” I said, “Frankie, I know that’s not true, because you were at this convenience store last night and I got you on video.” And he’s like, “Well, um,” and I’m like, “I gotcha you. You’re a liar. We need to have a conversation.” He goes, “You know, I got a warrant. I don’t want to go back to prison. You know what? I’ll just blow my brains out. I’m going to kill myself.” And so, that changes things for me. I know that Frankie is kind of a loose cannon. I know that he’s using dope and that he’s unpredictable and that he does not want to go back to prison.
Dave: [00:25:49] And you know he’s stolen a gun.
Paul: [00:25:51] Yeah. He’s got the Ruger and he’s also associating with several individuals that he could take hostage.
Dan: [00:25:57] Yeah. So, these are all factors for me. I’m like, “Okay, that changes the game.” So, there’s a way for us to track people using their cell phones, but we have to hit some criteria, we have to check some boxes. In this case, I truly believe that he was being honest with me, because he reiterated it a couple of times to me saying, “You know what? I’m going to kill myself.” I said, “Well, do you have a gun?” He’s like, “I’m not telling you that, you know I’m a felon.” He doesn’t want to admit to having a gun, but I believe at this point that he’s got a gun. He tells me, “There’s no fucking way you and I are ever having a conversation. Leave me alone. I’m not going back to prison.” I’m like, I’m going to appeal to his ego. I was like, “Frankie, you’re doing a very good job out here.” He’s like, “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
[00:26:41] Soon after that, after more threats against his own life, he decides he’s going to hang up on me. “FU, I ain’t talking to you. Leave me alone. I’m not in your state.” Even though I know better, right, I’ve got him on video the night before. Over the next hour or so, I get a phone call from Christie and Kevin. Christie is like, “I don’t know why you want to talk to me. You’ve been going around to all these different addresses, handing your card out, saying that we need to speak to you. I don’t know what’s going on.” I said, “Well, where are you and Frankie right now?” She’s like, “Well, I’m not going to tell you that.”[laughter]
[00:27:18] She’s not super cooperative, but she admits to me, “Yes, I was at that convenience store last night, and I was with Frankie and I was with Kevin, and we were with another female, but she has nothing to do with anything that’s going on, and I’m not going to tell you, her name. You already recognize Frankie and Kevin.”
Yeardley: [00:27:34] Right.
Dan: [00:27:35] So, Christie also confirms with me that she owns a 1996 gold Honda Accord. I said, “Hey, I need to have a conversation with you. I need to see that car.” She says, “No, I’m not going to do that. You’re going to have to find us.” I’m like, “Okay.” Well, Kevin calls me and I’m thinking that they’re probably next to each other. They all called me consecutively from different numbers.
Dave: [00:27:59] “All right, I’m off the phone. Your turn.”[chuckles]
Dan: [00:28:02] Yeah. Like, “Hey, can you just hand the phone back to Frankie, so I can talk to him?” Anyway, I talked to Kevin and he confirms that he was at the convenience store as well. Now, we’re all starting to get on the same page. The truth train, as we say, sometimes, “Don’t lie to me about the stupid stuff that I can prove you’re lying about. Just admit it. It’s not a crime to go to a convenience store.”
Yeardley: [00:28:25] Why are they calling you, if they don’t want to be found and they don’t really want to talk to you?
Dan: [00:28:29] I think they’re trying to plead their case that, “Hey, it’s not me that you should be looking for. You should look for somebody else, but I’m not going to tell you who.”
Dave: [00:28:37] Well, and like Paul says, “The steps that Dan is behind have shortened a lot,” to the point where now you missed him by just a handful of minutes. So, people start getting really anxious when you ride over the target.
Paul: [00:28:51] Yeah. This is where now reading into offender behavior is so critical. What Frankie just did with Dan, he inserted himself into the investigation. In part, he wants to misdirect Dan, because Dan is now breathing down his neck every turn that Frankie is taking. But at the same time, he’s also trying to figure out what Dan knows, so he can plan his next steps. So, I’m not here. I’m in the neighboring state. Dan calls BS and then there’s further conversation, “I’m going to blow my head off.” But he is, in essence, inserting himself. They do that for those two purposes, misdirect and learn information, get intel.
Yeardley: [00:29:37] That is so fascinating.
Dan: [00:29:39] Yeah, he’s gathering info on me. He wants to know how close I am.
Yeardley: [00:29:43] You got Kevin, Christie, and Frankie, all reaching out to see how much and how close you are?
Dan: [00:29:49] Yeah, I actually want to get on a group text with them. [Yeardley laughs] “Can we all just FaceTime each other and call it good?” Anyway, Kevin confirms that he’s at the convenience store. Kevin is saying, “Hey, I don’t know what you’ve got on Frankie, but I haven’t been involved in that stuff.” I said, “Well, you’re with him, so that’s a red flag for me because I know you have a proclivity to do these same things. Kevin, you have a history of doing this. You’ve been to prison for it.” He’s like, “I know, I know, but I don’t do it anymore.” I said, “Well, you’re still hanging out with the guy, right?” He says, “By the way, Frankie told me there’s no way he’s going back to prison. He will shoot himself. He said the chase is going to be epic.”
Yeardley: [00:30:30] You mean if you chase him in a car?
Dan: [00:30:33] Yeah, he says, “The chase is going to be epic.” And I said, “He said those words?” He said, “He said those exact words, ‘the chase is going to be epic, but I ain’t going back to prison.'”
Dan: [00:31:00] I get off the phone with Kevin, and I’ve got one more address that I’m going to check that the anonymous caller said, “Hey, there’s a neighborhood. You should probably go check it.” Well, it’s the same neighborhood that, Will, our first stolen car, the red Honda Civic got taken in. I go check this other address. Christie has been associated with that address before. No luck. I give a card again. So, at that point, I go home and it’s 10:00 at night. I’ve been at it all-day-long, just all over the county looking for Frankie. I finally get home. Frankie calls me again on my work phone, and he’s like, “Hey.” I’m like, “What’s up, Frankie? [Yeardley laughs] Do you want to chat? Do you want to come over and we’ll just hang out?”[laughter]
[00:31:47] “Seriously, dude, it’s 10:30 at night. What are you calling me for?” He’s like, “I just want you to know, okay, I was at that convenience store, but I haven’t been committing crimes. I just want to see my daughter and then I’ll go back to the state where I have a warrant and I’ll turn myself in. Can we call it good? I just want you to chill out on me.” I’m like, yeah, “Frankie, that’s not how it works. I’m fully engaged at this point. You’ve got my attention. You’ve had a little run in my town, you’ve created a lot of work for me, and it’s time to pay the piper.”
Paul: [00:32:21] Dan’s got Frankie spooked. Frankie’s trying to figure out, how do I get this rabid detective off my ass?
Dave: [00:32:29] He probably just wants to chill out for a few hours and not feel he’s having to move around from house to house, because you just can’t get settled even for a minute. I mean, he’s experiencing some stress.
Dan: [00:32:40] Yeah. So, Frankie ends the conversation by reiterating to me, “I want you to leave me alone, otherwise I’m going to kill myself.” He said it so many times. I’m like, “If I don’t ping his phone and Frankie goes through with his threats and actually ends his own life, I’m going to be held responsible for not taking steps to prevent that from happening.” I think a lot of what Frankie is telling me is bluster and bluffing, but at the same time, I couldn’t live with myself if he was being truthful. So, we ping his phone. We do it twice in about a half an hour. And he’s moving around. He’s in a vehicle, obviously, because he’s miles apart during each ping. The cell phone company is like, “Hey, we pinged him twice. We’re not going to just keep pinging him every five minutes. We did two for you and you can’t find him, that’s on you. We’re not pinging him anymore tonight.”
Yeardley: [00:33:33] Wait, do you tell the phone company that Frankie is threatening to kill himself and that’s why you need to know where he is?
Dan: [00:33:41] It’s very specific like that. For me to check that box where they’ll actually ping him, that he’s a danger to himself or others, I have to let them know what his statements have been. And Frankie’s telling me he’s going to kill himself.
Yeardley: [00:33:56] But still they say they won’t ping him beyond twice.
Dan: [00:34:00] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:34:01] That’s got to be frustrating.
Dan: [00:34:02] It is. So, I’m doing everything I can. I talk to my sergeant David, and he’s like, “No, we’re going to get back on this in the morning. He’s probably out using dope. Let’s get back at it in the morning. You’ve been at it all day.” And so, next morning, I go in. We ping the phone, the phone is off, so we can’t get a location on it. In the meantime, what I’m going to do is I’m going to go to the sporting goods store. I’ve got that receipt from Brooke’s car, the $700 receipt for sporting goods. I go and I talk to the clerk that actually helped me says, “You know what? I do remember them. Both the guys had tattoos all over their faces. One of them had red hair. They were very rude to me. They were cursing at me,” which is very odd because people just don’t do that. You remember it when it happens. They had $700 worth of stuff, and I was ringing it in, and they were saying that I was taking too long.” I’m like, “Okay, well, thanks for your statement and everything. Do you guys have video on the outside of your building?” “No.” I was hoping to see if they arrived in that white Dodge Durango that I’d found the receipt in. Didn’t have any of that, so I just call it good.
[00:35:08] I go back to the police station. One of our other detectives who was aware of what I was working on says, “Hey, are you looking for Kevin?” And I said, “Yeah.” He goes, “Well, he’s walking down the street right now. You want me to hook him up and bring him down there?” And I said, “Yes, please.”[laughter]
Dan: [00:35:23] Kevin comes on down. I talked to Kevin. I advised him of his Miranda rights. He says, “Hey, man, I’ll talk to you. It’s all good.” Kevin is carrying a backpack that has the number 28 on it. You remember at the high school was an athletic bag that was stolen that had the number 28 on it.
Yeardley: [00:35:40] Aha.
Dan: [00:35:42] I opened the bag and say, “Hey, by the way, are you out there doing stuff with Frankie breaking into cars, stealing stuff?” He says, “No.” And I said, “Well, the duffel bag that you were carrying, that was stolen.” Kevin says, “No, I didn’t steal that backpack.” I’ve got to believe him, because remember, I looked through the video at the school, and I don’t have Kevin on the video. I’ve got who I think is Frankie because of the red hair. Kevin says, “Yeah, I’ve been hanging around Frankie and Christie, and they’ve got a lot of backpacks with them right now. I know that, but I swear to God, I’m not out there committing crimes with them. It’s like, every time that I see them, they pick me up, and the trunk of the car or the back seat of the car is full of bags.” And I said, “Okay. Where’s Frankie at?” And he goes, “I honestly don’t know. I would tell you right now, I don’t want to go down for Frankie. I know Frankie’s got a warrant. He’s going back to prison and then whatever you have him on.” And I said, “Yeah, you’re right. I’m looking for some cooperation here.”
[00:36:40] He says, “I know he’s been hanging out in a certain area,” and he gives me that area, and it’s by a major shopping center. And so, I just filed that away. I asked him, “Hey, Kevin, Christie’s car, whose wheels are on that car?” And he goes. “I don’t know. There was a gold set of wheels that Frankie put on that car, but he spray painted them black.” And I said, “Where did that happen at?” And he goes, “Oh, you know that house?” He describes the property that has the mechanics type garage in the back. Kevin describes that property and says, “Yeah, I was there. Frankie took them off.”
Dave: [00:37:13] I’m assuming they just threw some other set of wheels on the red Honda.
Dan: [00:37:18] For those donut spares. If you’re Will and you recover your car [Paul starts laughing] and you’re like, “Are you serious? I used to have cool custom wheels on them.”
Yeardley: [00:37:28] “Now I don’t even have permanent wheels.”
Dan: [00:37:30] “I got four donuts on here. It’s just disrespectful.”
Yeardley: [00:37:33] It is.
Dave: [00:37:34] I want Frankie to go on the epic pursuit in that thing on donuts.[laughter]
Dan: [00:37:41] Kevin finishes the interview and he says, “Just remember, Frankie don’t stop.” And I said, “I know what you mean.” He goes, “He ain’t going to stop. He’s just going to keep going.”
Yeardley: [00:37:50] Like keep stealing cars?
Dan: [00:37:51] Keep stealing cars. If there’s a car chase, he’s going to keep going, he’s not going to stop.
Dave: [00:37:56] Anything to get away.
Dan: [00:37:57] Yeah. And I believe Kevin when he’s talking about Frankie. I believe every word he says. I end up letting Kevin go. But I said, “Hey, if I end up finding out that you weren’t honest with me, you’re going to have charges hanging over your head and I’m going to put a warrant out for your arrest. If you see Frankie, you need to call me.” And he’s like, “All right. I’ll do that.”
[00:38:16] Kevin also reiterates again. “Frankie’s told me many times that he’s not going back to prison.” I think he’s being serious. I go back to my Sergeant Dave and I said, “Hey, I just talked to Kevin and he swears up and down that Frankie is going to off himself, if there’s any police contact.” So, Sergeant Dave says, “Contact the phone company and ping him again.” So, we ping Frankie and he comes back to an area that is about a quarter mile, like 250 yards west of that shopping center that Kevin told me Frankie hangs around. And this ping comes down to within 10-feet. We rally all the troops, all of us detectives, I get a couple of patrol officers just for a marked uniform presence. We go to this shopping center, and there’s a hardware like home improvement store there and then there’s a major department store next door. It’s a huge parking lot. It’s probably, what, 500, 600 yards long?
Dave: [00:39:16] Oh, at least, it’s seven city blocks.
Yeardley: [00:39:19] Wow.
Dan: [00:39:20] A massive property. Hundreds of cars are parked in this parking lot. We ping it again on my way out there. It looks like he’s in the parking lot of the department store. We’re like, “Perfect.” So, we all converge on this huge parking lot. And Detective Kyle is in plain clothes. He’s driving around in his unmarked vehicle and he says, “Hey, I think I’ve got Frankie on the west side of the parking lot.” Normally, when people are walking through a parking lot, you walk through the rows. You don’t walk in between the actual cars that are parked.
Yeardley: [00:39:54] Right. Unless, you’ve lost your car and you’re now just casting about.[laughter]
Dan: [00:39:59] Right. Kyle’s watching Frankie and he’s saying, he will not go out into the aisles. He is staying in between the front ends of all the cars and just slowly squeezing his way through this parking lot. So, that tells me two things. One, it’s going to be harder for him to pick a direction to run, and two, he’s aware that people are probably looking for him and he’s trying to maintain low profile. And I think he’s looking for another car to steal.
Yeardley: [00:40:30] Is this all happening in broad daylight?
Dan: [00:40:33] Middle of the afternoon, broad daylight, bright sunny day.
Yeardley: [00:40:36] And in a full mall parking lot?
Dan: [00:40:38] Yes. So, we all start converging on that area, and I actually drive up one of the aisles, and I look over to my left as I’m driving up the aisle, and I see Frankie. Frankie doesn’t see me because I’m in an unmarked car. I just find a parking spot, and I get out. At the same time, Detective Kyle is out on foot and he’s in plain clothes. He’s wearing t-shirt and jeans. He just looks like he’s going to this home improvement center. And Kyle goes, “Hey, Frankie, what’s up?” Frankie looks at him like, “Who the F are you?” And Kyle goes, “Police. You’re under arrest.” Right then, Frankie does a button hook, 180 degrees, takes off running through the parking lot, and he’s looking over his shoulder as he’s running. I was closing distance on him pretty quickly.
[00:41:29] As Frankie emerged from this row of vehicles, Frankie had a folding knife extended out of his hand. While Sergeant David is in his SUV, he had just pulled up, basically parallel with Frankie. Frankie ran into the front of Sergeant Dave’s car full speed and the knife went flying through the air. And it all happened really fast. Frankie runs into the front of the car, Kyle hits him from behind, like, tackles him. I’m right there, right at the same time as they hit the ground. I put my hands on Frankie and I say, “Frankie, you’re under arrest.” And he goes, “That’s not my name.” [Yeardley starts laughing] And I’m like, “Okay, I’ll play. I’ll play this game. I’ve played it before. I’m pretty good at it.” [Yeardley laughs] “That’s not my name.” I go, “Okay, well, what’s your name?” He goes, “It’s in my wallet.” And I said, “Okay, where’s your wallet at?” He goes, “It’s in my front pocket.” I said, “So, you’re not going to give me your name?” By the way, this whole time, I’ve got him rolled over on his side while we’re patting him down and I can see Frankie tattooed on his neck.
Yeardley: [00:42:32] [laughs]
Dan: [00:42:33] I pulled the wallet out. There’s only one thing in the wallet, an ID. A commercial driver’s license for Jake. Jake, who had his pistol stolen, had his car broken into, and Frankie used his ID to check into the motel.
Yeardley: [00:42:49] Right.
Dan: [00:42:50] Now, I’ve got Frankie for ID theft, by his own admission. I’d given Frankie his Miranda rights and everything. Everything stood up. I didn’t elicit any illegal statements from Frankie. Frankie is call me every name in the book. We get Frankie into custody and everything, and I go put him in a patrol car and start taking photographs of the scene, because there’s a big dent in Sergeant Dave’s car now, and we got to write a memo for that. [Yeardley laughs] I take photos of the ID that’s found in Frankie’s wallet. I take photo of his tattoo. I also take photos of the knife that is now on the pavement in the parking lot.
[00:43:29] As I’m doing that, Frankie’s yelling at me, “Dan. Dan.” I turn, I’m like, “Hey, man, just give me a minute. I don’t have time for your shit right now.” And he’s like, “Dan, seriously, get over here. Get over here.” So, I go over there and he goes, “What do I got to do?” I said, “What do you mean what do you have to do?” He goes, “What kind of information do I have to give you so I can get out of this?” I go, “Oh, dude, we’re way past that.”
Yeardley: [00:43:53] Yeah, it’s a little late for that, perhaps.
Dan: [00:43:55] And he go, “Are you serious? You’re not going to work with me?” I go, “Dude, I’ve been chasing you for four or five days, and we’ve had phone conversations. All you’ve ever done is lied to me. Why all of a sudden do you think I’m your buddy? If you got information, yeah, I’ll listen to it. But the other side of this is you got to be honest about what you did too, because if you’re going to lie to me about those things, all the other information you give to me, it doesn’t matter. It’s not credible.” And a DA is going to go, “He’s a liar. I can’t use that.”
Yeardley: [00:44:22] Right.
Dan: [00:44:23] So, I say, “Hey, Frankie, you know what? I’ll take you back down to the police station. We’ll have a conversation there. How’s that sound?” We go back down to the police station and Frankie proposes this, “Hey, I know you found my lanyard and it’s got three shaved keys on it.” I go, “Yeah.” And he goes, “Are you going to charge me with that stuff?” And I go, “Yeah. You’re getting the full meal deal, dude. You’re getting all the stolen car stuff, you’re getting all the burglar tools, you’re getting the ID theft. You’re getting everything. You’ve been a menace to this city.”
[00:44:50] He’s like,”Well, what about this? I give you some big drug dealers here in town, and you just let me go. I go back up to the state that I violated my parole in and I turn myself in. I just want to see my daughter first. Does that sound good?” I’m like, “Yeah, dude, I don’t think you really understand what’s going on here. I want to be completely clear with you. I don’t want there to be any misunderstanding. You’re going to jail tonight, Frankie. I’m sorry, man. You got a warrant? I can’t just overlook that. There’s a lot of other stuff, but I’m willing to listen. And the DA might say, ‘Hey, he was cooperative and he gave us some information.’ I’m willing to note those things in my report, but I’m not going to make you any promises. It’s not what I do. I can’t make you those promises.”
Dave: [00:45:30] I think a lot of times these guys are like, “Oh, I have dirt on other people and I can just use it as currency to get out of my current situation.” Given what Frankie is involved in, that’s going to have to be a real big nugget of information. It just can’t be like, “Hey, I know where some drugs are being sold out of the house.” I’d be like, “I don’t care. We know that house too.” It better be substantial.
Dan: [00:45:51] Yeah. And so, we go back and forth. Frankie would never admit to anything. He told me several times, “I’m not going to hang myself. If you have specific questions you want to ask me, I might answer them, but if it means that I’m going to hang myself, I’m not going to answer them.”
Yeardley: [00:46:08] Meaning, “I’m not going to incriminate myself.”
Dave: [00:46:11] Yeah, maybe that’s a better word to use since he’d been threatening suicide, but yes, he’s not going to incriminate himself.
Dan: [00:46:19] I asked him, “So, whose wallet is that?” And he goes. “That’s mine.” And I go, “Okay, so, we’re still back on the whole fake name thing?” And he goes, “Oh, yeah, you already figured that out, right?” And I go, “Yeah, dude. Seriously, how high are you? When’s the last time you used?” He said, “Oh, I haven’t used in a couple of days.” I’m like, “All right. I asked him, “Hey, Frankie, did you borrow anybody’s car over the last week or so?” And he goes, “No, I don’t drive. You know I’m suspended.”[laughter]
Dan: [00:46:48] I go, “Okay, well, remember we talked about that driving complaint in the mobile home park, right? I talked to the manager of the mobile home park and I talked to Brooke and her mother. Did you apologize to them because they got a driving complaint because of your driving?” He goes, “Okay, that one day, I drove.” This is how the interview goes with Frankie. It’s always just these little admissions. I say, “Hey, man, so, you’ve been pretty active stealing cars.” He goes, “I didn’t steal any cars. I’m on parole, man. If I commit crimes, I’ll go back to prison.” And I go, “Okay, did you use that ID that you had in your wallet? Did you ever use that for anything?” He goes, “Oh, no, I just found that.” “Did you use it to check into a Motel Six?” And he goes, “I did do that.” [Yeardley laughs] And then he goes, “You know what? You say you got me for two stolen cars? Big deal. 26 months. I’ll go away for 26 months. Big fucking deal.” Then he says, “How about this? Can my mom come down here? I want to talk to my mom.” I said, “You know what? Here, call her up.”
[00:47:52] She comes down to the police station. I’m really thinking like, “Okay, I’ve got his mother here. His mother is going to be like, ‘Just tell him what you’ve been doing.'” Mother did not do that. Mother tried to play both sides of the fence and then basically told me, “Hey, you know what? If you’re not going to let Frankie work for you and try to work off some of these charges, then we want a lawyer.” And I go, “Okay, well, are we done talking then?” He goes, “No, I’ll still talk to you.” I go, “Okay. So, we’re not lawyering up yet?” “No, we’re not.” I know that some of our listeners are very sensitive to people who are battling addiction. And so am I. And certainly, Frankie is battling addiction. He’s up and down, and this really speaks to the drugs that are on board.
[00:48:38] He’s crying at times. He’s really upset. He’s angry. He’s MFing me up and down, if he doesn’t get what he wants. If I don’t give him the deal he wants, he starts calling me every name in the book. Finally, I just had enough and I’m like, “We’re done. I got everything I need from you. We’re done.” Take him to jail. He gets sent back up to the neighboring state to finish his two years and then our DA ends up getting him for another 26 months, just like Frankie said, “Big deal. That’s 26 months.” He was right. He got 26 months for the stuff that I was investigating. I ended up talking to Christie, finally. One of our patrol sergeants, guy named Pete, he had sharp eye for stolen cars. He knew that I was looking for this gold Honda that Christie owned with the stolen wheels on it.
[00:49:29] He found it and looked at the wheels and could see that they were painted black, but they weren’t painted well, so you could see the gold underneath. So, I got Will, his wheels back. [Yeardley laughs] He had to get them refinished and everything because of the spray paint, but he was grateful and appreciative.
Yeardley: [00:49:48] Wow. Well, that is a job well done, Dan, even though Frankie gave you the run around for almost a week.
Dan: [00:49:54] Dave was working at that time, and I was getting run ragged a little bit. But it’s always fun when we get the whole team out there. “Hey, I need all hands-on deck for this, because we’re small.” We only got, what, seven or eight guys back there? It’s like, “Hey, I need everybody right now.” Everyone says, “Oh, sweet, yeah, we got something to do?”
Dave: [00:50:12] And then they go, “Well, who are you chasing?” He mentions Frankie and everyone’s like, “You want me to drive or–?”[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:50:20] This could be good. [laughs] Thank you, guys. It’s the best, best, best to have a case from the A-Team.
Dan: [00:50:29] My pleasure. It was a noteworthy case I remembered this case, because when Frankie ran into the front of Sergeant Dave’s car, even the sound, I can still hear it. We’re very fortunate that that happened. I think that very easily could have been a shooting and he didn’t hurt himself. So, it was satisfying to get him off the street.
Yeardley: [00:50:49] I bet.
Paul: [00:50:50] Well, just to say, coming from a different agency and working with a lot of agencies, oftentimes, this type of case doesn’t get any type of resources put on it. And now here you have Dan, dogged Dan who’s chasing Frankie, getting one step closer each day as he’s doing it. I think it’s a job well done, for sure.
Yeardley: [00:51:09] That’s well said. Yeah.
Dan: [00:51:11] Thank you, Legend.
Paul: [00:51:12] As always.[laughter]
Yeardley: [00:51:17] Smalltown Fam, this concludes Season 11 of Small Town Dicks, but, but, in one month’s time, we launch our new podcast with Dan and Dave called The Briefing Room, where the detectives talk about current conversations about policing in America, viral videos, and so much more. We’ll have more information about The Briefing Room in a couple of weeks, and of course, you can listen to it wherever you get your podcasts. You guys continue to be the best fans in the pod universe. We are so grateful for you. Please stay safe out there and we’ll be back in your ears before you know it.[Small Town Dicks theme playing]
Yeardley: [00:51:58] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Logan Heftel, Christina Bracamontes, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor and the Real Nick Smitty. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinaire are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin, and our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
Dan: [00:52:28] If you like what you hear and want to stay up to date with the show, visit us on our website at smalltowndicks.com.
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Yeardley: [00:53:12] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
Dan: [00:53:18] -in search of the finest,-
Dave: [00:53:20] -rare-
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Dave: [00:53:23] -as always by the detectives who investigated them. So, thanks for listening, Small Town Fam.
Yeardley: [00:53:28] Nobody’s better than you.
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