In this special episode, retired Detective Dawn goes undercover as a customer after hearing reports of a fish store owner with busy hands. In the course of her investigation, Dawn uncovers clear evidence that the owner has had a long history of victimizing women, including underage girls.Read Transcript
Yeardley: [00:00:05] Hey, Small Town Fam, how are you doing? I hope you’re all well, and that today is treating you right. As we prepare for the new season of Small Town Dicks, we thought we’d reach back into our Patreon archives, and share a few episodes that most of our listeners haven’t heard. Starting with this one from Detective Dawn, who gave us Firestarter in Season 7. This episode is the first of several gems we’ll be releasing during this hiatus. So, keep your ear to that podcast app. Or, you can join our Small Town Super Fam over on Patreon, where you get exclusive content every week, hiatus or not. Either way, we love that you’re here. Thank you so much for listening. Now, settle in for No Sale, a cautionary tale about trusting your gut.
Yeardley: [00:01:01] Hi, I’m Yeardley. This is Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:05] Hey there.
Yeardley: [00:01:05] And his identical twin brother, Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:08] Hello.
Yeardley: [00:01:09] And this is Small Town Dicks.
Dave: [00:01:12] You’ll hear detectives from small towns around the world discuss their most memorable cases.
Dan: [00:01:17] We cover the intimate details of what went wrong and what went right.
Yeardley: [00:01:21] As these dedicated men and women search for justice and crack the case.
Dan: [00:01:26] Names and certain details have been changed to protect the privacy of the victims and their families.
Dave: [00:01:31] So, please join us in maintaining their anonymity out of respect for what they’ve been through.
In Unison: [00:01:36] Thank you.[Small Town Dicks theme]
Yeardley: [00:01:43] Today, on Small Town Dicks, we have the usual suspects. We have Detective Dave.
Dave: [00:01:49] Good afternoon, Yeardley.
Yeardley: [00:01:50] Good afternoon, Dave. How are you?
Dave: [00:01:52] I’m doing well.
Yeardley: [00:01:53] You’re great. And we have Detective Dan.
Dan: [00:01:56] Hello.
Yeardley: [00:01:56] Hello, Dan.
Dan: [00:01:58] Hi.[chuckles]
Yeardley: [00:02:00] Shy today. And we are so pleased to welcome a new guest to the podcast, retired Detective Dawn.
Dawn: [00:02:06] Hi.
Yeardley: [00:02:07] Hi, thank you so much for joining us today.
Dawn: [00:02:10] Thanks for having me.
Yeardley: [00:02:11] This is great. Dawn, you have a really interesting case for us today. Why don’t you just launch in and tell us how this case came to you?
Dawn: [00:02:20] This happened a few years ago, I think 2009. I received a telephone call from a personal friend. She was pretty upset when she called me and she’s like, “I was in this aquarium store, fish store, and I think the guy touched me.” And I was like, “What?” She’s like, “I don’t want to report this. I just want to talk to you about it.” I was like, “Okay.” She said, “I was wearing a sweatshirt, and I think he touched my breasts on purpose.”
Yeardley: [00:02:46] Like a stranger?
Dawn: [00:02:48] Like the owner of the shop.
Yeardley: [00:02:49] [gasps]
Dawn: [00:02:50] I know. It’s crazy, isn’t it? She talked about it, and I said, “Do you want me to go look at–?“ “No, no, no, I don’t want you to go down there. I don’t want you to talk to him. I’m not even sure if he really meant to do it. But he did it more than once. I just wanted to warn you, don’t let your daughter go in there, because I’m not going to let my daughter go in there.”
Yeardley: [00:03:08] How old was your daughter?
Dawn: [00:03:09] At the time, I think she was about 12. I don’t even like fish, so there was really no chance of me going in there. But now, I was on high alert. And this guy, in a lot of smaller towns or medium-sized towns, there’s like the creepy guy that everybody knows is creepy, but nothing ever really happens with them. This was the creepy guy.
Dave: [00:03:30] Is this like an aquarium-type store?
Dawn: [00:03:32] Yeah, it’s like a fish store.
Dave: [00:03:33] Okay, pet fish and stuff. Okay, I’m tracking.
Dawn: [00:03:36] Okay.
Yeardley: [00:03:37] [giggles]
Dawn: [00:03:37] Everybody has a fish, right?
Yeardley: [00:03:40] No.
Dawn: [00:03:42] That put me on high alert. And on the heels of that, I had a mom call me. And that mom called me and she’s like, “I need to talk to you about being in this fish store.” And it’s like, “Whoa, wait, it’s only been a week and I’m getting another call?” She’s driving and she’s calling me, and she said, “The first time I was in there, it was like three or four months ago. And I think that this guy was touching my breasts, and he was calling me hot. It just was really creepy and I couldn’t get out of there fast enough. And then just recently, I went in again with my three children, and my mom because I thought I would be safe with all these people.” And this fish guy was creeping her out again, and talking to the mom about whorehouses because mom was visiting from Las Vegas.
Yeardley: [00:04:32] What?
Dawn: [00:04:32] Yeah, this is grandma that he’s talking to, and telling grandma how hot the adult daughter was. The kids are wandering around the fish store a little bit, and there’s a 12-year-old daughter, her name’s Grace. Grace’s wandering around this fish store and he corners her and asks her, “Do you want to play a game?” And she’s like, “Okay,” not thinking anything of it. So, he says, “Put your hands out,” and so she puts her hands out kind of like she’s riding a bicycle. Mom saying, “And he tickled my daughter.” I said, “Oh. Well, where did he tickle her?” She said, “Grace, where did that guy tickle you?” “Well, he tickled me right here by my private areas.” Mom just burst into tears. I’m trying to calm her down and talk her down while she’s driving. “Where are you?” She’s like, “I’m right by the police department.” “Come on in.” So, they came in and talk to me and I couldn’t let mom be in the room with her daughter while she was disclosing for a number of reasons.
[00:05:31] Mom was emoting too much, too many tears, too much stuff like that. And then, Grace would try to take care of her and not tell all the bad things that had happened. And so fortunately, mom trusted me and Grace trusted me, which was super important. She came in and she talked about the tickling and she talked about the fish guy.
Yeardley: [00:05:51] Does he have a name?
Dawn: [00:05:52] His name is Stanley. Stanley had asked this little 12-year-old girl, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” And she’s like, “Hmm. I don’t know.” “Do you want to be bad?”
Yeardley: [00:06:03] What?
Dawn: [00:06:04] To a 12-year-old girl.
Dave: [00:06:05] How old is Stanley?
Dawn: [00:06:06] Stanley was in his 60s at the time.
Dave: [00:06:09] Another question. Your friend that originally calls you about this odd interaction with Stanley, the fish shop owner.
Dawn: [00:06:16] I just call them the Fish Guy.
Dave: [00:06:17] Okay.
Yeardley: [00:06:18] Got it. What’s your friend’s name?
Dawn: [00:06:20] Jenny.
Dave: [00:06:21] Jenny, your friend calls you to give you a heads up that she just had an odd interaction with the owner of this fish shop. And then this other mother calls about the interaction she had at the fish shop. And then while this is happening, her daughter is also disclosing in the car. Does Jenny and Grace’s mother know each other?
Dawn: [00:06:43] Nope.
Dave: [00:06:44] Completely unrelated.
Dawn: [00:06:45] Completely unrelated. What I didn’t know at the time is about two weeks previous, another mom and daughter had been in the store, and he had brushed up against that mom, and then talked about her seven-year-old daughter, and how, “In a couple years, you’re going to have a hard time keeping the boys off.”
Yeardley: [00:07:04] Oh, my God!
Dawn: [00:07:06] Every female that went in that store had some sort of inappropriate interaction with this man.
Dave: [00:07:10] Grace and her mother come into your office and you separate Grace from mom so we don’t have contamination issues. Kids will adopt the posture that their parents have as horrible news is coming out. So, if the parents are horrified and are having a breakdown, kids will shut down because they recognize, “What I’m saying is causing that in my parent.” So, they want to take care of that person, and you won’t get a clean, full disclosure. To keep it clean, separate them, get the information from Grace. What does Grace explain to you?
Dawn: [00:07:47] Well, Grace explained exactly that right that the Fish Guy basically had her put her hands out that she thought he was going to play a game and that he reached out, but he reached out to her groin, to her pelvic area. And then, she talks about his thumbs being at the crease of her thigh, right next to her vagina, and his hands actually wrapping around because she’s a small girl and touching her buttocks. She said that she just ran, and she ran into her grandma and just hugged her grandma, didn’t want to look at this guy or talk about it. She was ashamed of being a victim. It was very interesting in talking to her because she kept saying, “I thought he was playing.” You could see her processing. And then, she said, “He was pervy.” Of course, she’s a 12-year-old and I’m like, “Well tell me what pervy means.” “Pervy means that he wants to take you someplace and rape you.” And that’s the 12-year-old saying that. She’s processing this and also processing shame of being a victim. The only person in that room that needed to be ashamed was that man.
Yeardley: [00:08:47] Right, was Stanley.
Dawn: [00:08:48] Yeah, Stanley.
Dave: [00:08:49] This is twice now you’ve heard Stanley as person of interest in odd, inappropriate interactions with females. One of them is a child.
Dawn: [00:09:00] Correct.
Dave: [00:09:00] And I’m guessing you start pulling case numbers at that point.
Dawn: [00:09:03] Yeah. I start looking at him, and the decision to send an undercover female into the fish shop occurs. Female was me. I decided, “Okay, I’m going to send in the male undercover first.” He’s already in there.
Yeardley: [00:09:20] Why is that?
Dawn: [00:09:21] I didn’t know exactly what was going to happen. If I was going to make an arrest immediately, I did want cover in there. Walking in together, I didn’t think would be–
Yeardley: [00:09:29] Safe, right?
Dawn: [00:09:31] Yeah.
Yeardley: [00:09:32] I get it. So, if you walk in there with a male, Stanley might think twice about doing something awful to you. Yes?
Dawn: [00:09:39] Yes. I just wanted to walk in alone, as an alone female. When I walked in, I had my hair down in a braid along the side. My hair is pretty long, so it’s pretty visible. When I walked in, I encountered Stanley, and I told him that I wanted to buy a fish for my daughter for her birthday. And he’s like, “Okay,” and he starts talking to me. We’re having a conversation, and as he’s talking to me, he starts walking away. A person’s natural inclination then is to follow. I follow him to this back portion of this fish shop, and there’s these huge vats of guppies, then they have these black hoses going into him, and he starts moving these hoses around. As he’s moving these hoses around, he takes one of the hoses and he reaches elbow out, and he brushes right across my breasts. I was like, “Dude, I think I just got touched.” But truly, it was, I think, I just got touched, because he did it under the guise of actually moving hoses around. There’s this piece of me that’s like, “Hmm, this doesn’t seem like enough. This doesn’t seem bad.”
Yeardley: [00:10:43] And do you think that because you think, “Well, maybe I was standing too close and he wasn’t actually looking me in the eye–
Dawn: [00:10:49] Yeah, he wasn’t looking me in the eye, you’re right.
Yeardley: [00:10:52] It doesn’t feel intentional.
Dave: [00:10:53] And it just signals how skilled in practice these guys are with the grooming process, that we’ve got a detective who works child abuse and sex crimes, and she’s even questioning, “Was that intentional?” Again, it’s on the grooming scale. It’s unintentional, or accidental “touching,” just to gauge the reaction to see what the person does.
Yeardley: [00:11:17] To push the boundaries.
Dave: [00:11:18] Yeah, they push the boundaries. “Let’s see where she’s going to finally say, ‘Don’t do that. Keep your hands off me.’”
Dawn: [00:11:23] Right. How far can I go? Here’s the other thing. I think females are sometimes conditioned to allow people to touch them. Somebody opens the door for you, they put their hand on the small of your back and you don’t think anything of it. But really, don’t touch me.
Dave: [00:11:38] Right. You don’t have to touch the small of my back to open the door.
Dawn: [00:11:41] I canwalk through there on my own. Thank you. He touched me and I was like, “Hmm, I wonder if that’s it. I wonder if he touched me.” I’m moving to a different area, and I’m looking at these fish. The aisle is about four feet wide, and the other undercover is at the end of the aisle, and I would say that that’s 20 feet away. And I’m looking up at these fish and I see the Fish Guy come around the corner, Stanley. He comes around the corner, he walks right by that undercover, doesn’t touch him. He gets to me, and he has to move me out of the way. He starts moving me out of the way by grasping me on both sides of my ribs with his hands on my breasts, and then he runs his hands all the way down my body and moves me out of the way.
Yeardley: [00:12:23] What?
Dawn: [00:12:24] I know.
Yeardley: [00:12:24] This isn’t a pat down search.
Dawn: [00:12:26] No.
Yeardley: [00:12:27] Instead of just, “Excuse me, I need to get by you.”
Dan: [00:12:31] It’s so bold.
Dawn: [00:12:32] So bold.
Dave: [00:12:33] Grooming typically takes a long time. This guy kind of skips three or four rungs on the ladder. He goes way up the ladder on pushing boundaries.
Dawn: [00:12:42] Mm-hmm. The crazy part is, I look down at the undercover and he does this universal sign of, “Let’s arrest him now,” by pushing his wrists together, like we’re going to put him in cuffs or something. I hold my finger up, and I’m like, “Wait, I don’t know if he really meant to touch me.”
Yeardley: [00:12:58] Dawn!
Dawn: [00:12:59] I know. I know. I’m getting ready to leave, my hair’s in that braid. And this is the creepiest part to me. My hair’s on that braid along the side of me, and as I’m leaving, I said, “Thanks. You know, I’m going to have to think about this what I’m going to get for a fish.” And he reaches out and he grabs my braid, and he starts stroking my hair.
Yeardley: [00:13:18] Okay, that’s weird.
Dawn: [00:13:19] It is weird. And he says, “Does your daughter have nice long hair like you? Do you know who Lady Godiva is? You know she wrote nude on horseback, right?” I’m like, “[nervous chuckle] Okay.” And I leave. I get back to the station. I’m talking to my boss and I said, “You know what, I think he touched me.” He said, “You think, or you’re sure?” I said, “I’m pretty sure.” My boss is like, “Let’s send in another girl.” I’m like, “Hell no, we’re not sending in another girl. We’re not sending in another girl to get touched.” That’s when it hit me, I had been rolling around on those blue defensive tactics mats, these cushioning mats that we can throw each other around on and not get hurt, kind of get hurt, not get hurt, with men for 20 some odd years, and none of them had ever touched me. And we were in close contact with each other. So clearly, this man had intended to do it. And once I was sure inside myself, then we were good to go.
Yeardley: [00:14:15] Right. Was it the idea that another woman would be subjected to that that made you go, “Wait a second. That was inappropriate. Fuck no, I’m not putting anybody else through that?”
Dawn: [00:14:27] Absolutely. There’s no way. It’s just that recognition.
Dawn: [00:14:43] I had a separate detective going in and ended up arresting him on one of the young children and started talking to Stanley about it. Stanley’s excuse for all this behavior, he’s diabetic.
Yeardley: [00:14:57] What?
Dawn: [00:14:58] Low blood sugar, apparently.
Dave: [00:15:00] Apparently, diabetes makes you put your hands on women, but not men.
Dan: [00:15:04] I think that’s also why it’s important to send in a male UC, undercover, you can kind of set a baseline. This is very specific behavior. He’s ignoring the males, and he’s targeting females.
Yeardley: [00:15:16] That’s a good point.
Dawn: [00:15:17] What’s interesting is the detective that we sent in to arrest him, had been in there a couple years previous with his daughter, and the Fish Guy, Stanley, told this detective, “Your daughter’s really sexy. You better watch out in the next couple of years.” It didn’t matter. It didn’t matter what age the female was. It was just a female.
Yeardley: [00:15:39] He was just predatory no matter what.
Dawn: [00:15:41] Absolutely.
Yeardley: [00:15:42] And sadly, you can’t arrest somebody for inappropriate comments, I guess, right?
Dawn: [00:15:46] No.
Dave: [00:15:47] First Amendment, freedom of speech. You can say creepy stuff all day long.
Dawn: [00:15:50] Right. These people’s choice is just not shop there. And if they really love their fish, they didn’t have a choice, they had to go in there. One woman who called in had been going there for 10 years, and she believed that she had gone in at least 20 to 50 times, and every single time she went in, he touched her. She talks about the last time that she went in, she didn’t want to, her husband was going to go in and talk to her into coming in. He touched her again, she was wearing a Betty Boop t-shirt. He reached up and grasped both of her breasts under the guise of, “Oh, I really like your t-shirt.” And she’s like, “I’m done. Just done.”
Yeardley: [00:16:28] Ugh.
Dave: [00:16:29] Here’s the frustrating thing though, is this contact with adults is a relatively minor charge in our state. It’s you’re subjecting someone to contact of a sexual or intimate body part, and it’s without the victim’s consent. That’s a misdemeanor in our state. To get it to be a felony, we’ve got to get into age groups of the victims if they’re under a certain age if it’s by forcible compulsion, so you’re forcing yourself on somebody. If you’re the suspect, and you find someone who’s incapacitated, they’re drunk, they’re intoxicated to the point they can’t care for themselves, that’s another where this turns into a big-time felony, like going to prison by felony. In some of these cases, he’s just going to get charged with a few misdemeanors. But then, the stuff that really starts adding up for him is all the charges with the children. That’s where he gets hammered.
Dawn: [00:17:23] Right. That was our hook.
Dan: [00:17:24] Another detective goes in and arrests this guy. Stanley had made inappropriate comments to the detective’s daughter in the past. You guys arrest Stanley. Is there a press release?
Dawn: [00:17:36] There is. Once we finally had the arrest and he’s booked, we put his booking photo in the paper. And then, women came out of the woodwork. Women came out of the woodwork from the 70s talking about Stanley. One woman said that she had been at his house babysitting with her friend, she was about 15 years old, but he never left. He stayed while they were babysitting. She had been wearing overalls with a halter top. Stanley put his hands inside the halter top and was touching her breasts. When you ask her how long his hands were there, she estimates 15 minutes. So, he wasn’t like, “Excuse me.”
Dave: [00:18:13] And here’s the issue is, some people will say, “How did that person never report that to the police?” This is the issue with disclosure, is that people disclose when they’re ready to, not before then. That victims are ashamed and they’re worried about how it’s going to reflect on them. That they did something to deserve this or they did something to cause this. That’s the stigma we’ve got to extinguish, is that when someone wrongs you like that, go ahead and say something, people are ready to stand up for you. This guy got away with a lot over the years, and it seems like he was really bold when your investigation starts, but it sounds like he started that decades ago.
Yeardley: [00:19:00] That’s incredible. What about the– for instance, some states have now new laws where there’s no statute of limitations for sex crimes committed against children, like you can still say, “When I was 12, I was sexually abused, and it was 30 years ago.” What are the circumstances for this case?
Dawn: [00:19:20] In our state, it is 12 years after they turn 18. So, if the child is abused at 17, it would be when they turn 30, the statute of limitations would be up. If the abuse occurred when they were 6, it would still be 12 years after they turn–
Yeardley: [00:19:37] -18.
Dawn: [00:19:37] So, it’d still be 30, 30 years of age.
Dave: [00:19:40] For the victims that were adults, because they’re misdemeanors, there are statute of limitations where it’s only a few years, and you can’t ever revive that case again. Our state and lots of other states are starting to move towards, because of the DNA factor, is that they’re extending statute of limitations for cases involving DNA because they recognize suspect might not ever pop up and get a DNA match and it could be 35 years down the line. So, there’s caveats involving DNA-type cases where we can extend that beyond the 30th birthday of the victim.
Dan: [00:20:15] One of the tools that we have is, say you’ve got DNA and a case, you can write a warrant for the owner of that DNA. You’ve got this DNA that’s related to a sexual assault or a murder, violent crime, you write a warrant for whoever owns that DNA, and if you have a warrant for it, the statute of limitations has stopped now. The clock has stopped if you get an indictment on that person, and you’re just waiting for your match to show up. Those are ways that we can stop the clock and get around the statute of limitations on some cases.
Yeardley: [00:20:47] That’s really interesting. Did Stanley have a family? Did he have a wife?
Dawn: [00:20:52] He did have a wife. In fact, he told one of the women that he touched, “My wife says, ‘How can you be so bad when you’re so good?” That’s what he told this woman. I also had an opportunity to look at his computer.
Dave: [00:21:05] Can we get into your background a little bit?
Dawn: [00:21:07] You can.
Yeardley: [00:21:08] [chuckles]
Dawn: [00:21:09] I’ve had the pleasure of working with Detective Dawn on a few of my cases, and I know that she’s got a particularly interesting set of skills.
Yeardley: [00:21:19] Do tell.
Dawn: [00:21:20] I do have some sweet skills. I did computer forensics. Because this man showed that he was so interested in touching young girls, I thought about his computer, and we ended up getting a search warrant for his computer and it was filled, like filled to the brim with pornography. And I found about seven photos that appeared to be child porn. I had them checked out by a doctor in our community who deals with child abuse cases. She’s like, “Yeah, for sure, these are children.” So, that and I also know that based on another woman coming forward, a woman named Linda, she came forward and she said that he had taken pictures of her when she was a young girl, when she was an adolescent. He had convinced her that he was a photographer, and she could be a model. When I talk to him about this, even though these pictures are nude, he called it “cheesecake.” And it’s like my definition of cheesecake is adult women making this choice, and it’s not as explicit. When we serve the search warrant, I found boxes of those old slides of nude girls. Unfortunately, we couldn’t prove the age on these or even identify, most of them. Linda was not able to identify herself even though I pulled some that I thought might be her. So, we couldn’t give an exact age. So, there was no charges in that regard.
Yeardley: [00:22:40] No charges, even though clearly, he had photos of children?
Dawn: [00:22:43] Encouraging child sexual abuse?
Yeardley: [00:22:45] Yeah.
Dawn: [00:22:46] Yeah. He was charged with that.
Dave: [00:22:48] Just going back a little ways, when he’s initially arrested, he’s brought down to the police station. Does he make a statement?
Dawn: [00:22:56] Well,he did because he was confronted with touching me, because we had that dead to rights. I had he touched me, and I had an undercover see that he touched me, and it just happened. He says he remembers me, and that he might have just touched my waist or something, because he thought I was cute and sad, and he felt sorry for me.
Yeardley: [00:23:19] What about the hair though?
Dawn: [00:23:20] Well, he doesn’t remember touching my hair. But if he did, it was probably okay. Every excuse that he made, it was like when he touched Grace, it was like, “Well, if I tickled her, her mom was there.” It was like his built-in excuse or his built an alibi kind of thing. “If I touched them, it was only to get by them or if I touched them, and they didn’t like it, I’m sorry.”
Dave: [00:23:45] Does Grace get forensically interviewed?
Dawn: [00:23:48] No, that was the only interview that she had.
Dave: [00:23:50] Okay. But she gives you enough to charge him with the felony count of sexual abuse?
Dawn: [00:23:55] Yeah. I also had child forensic interviewing experience. It’s not like we took her down to an advocacy center or something like that. We stayed right where we were. I did bring out an anatomically correct drawing of a grammar school aged child. She was able to tell me the body parts on there and then she was able to show me exactly where Stanley touched her. It was pretty dead to rights.
Dave: [00:24:17] So, he’s lodged under a set of charges including some big-time felonies that are mandatory minimum sentences you serve every day of it. Then, I’m guessing much later on, you get into his computers, you find seven files that are considered child pornography. If he took the pictures, those are mandatory minimum sentences, but you also have a range with child pornography photos in our state where the first few are only this amount of months. But then, you get over a certain number, like you get 5 to 10, now you’ve moved up a category and you’ve got a much larger sense for each of those photos. So, he’s looking at a lot of prison time for somebody who’s in his 60s.
Yeardley: [00:25:01] Right. How much time did he get?
Dawn: [00:25:03] 15 months on a plea.
Yeardley: [00:25:05] What?
Dawn: [00:25:06] I know. He was offered a plea, and he refused to take it because he’s going to court. However, when he went to court with his attorney and the halls were lined with women that he had touched, he made the choice to accept that plea. Our district attorney and our community accepted it. He ended up doing a no contest plea.
Yeardley: [00:25:28] What’s that?
Dawn: [00:25:28] Pretty much what no contest means is that you have enough evidence to convict me, but I’m not going to admit to my guilt. Therefore, you can’t use a guilty plea against me in some sort of civil case.
Yeardley: [00:25:42] Isn’t that like an Alford plea? I know you have enough to convict me, but I refuse to admit my guilt?
Dave: [00:25:47] Kind of, yeah. But on this end, that no contest plea saves him because he’s got a business. So, if there’s a civil aspect to this and they sue him for all of his assets, they can say, “Look, this guy was convicted.” And he’s like, “Well, I didn’t admit it. I never admitted this.”
Yeardley: [00:26:06] Why did he get such a sweet deal?
Dawn: [00:26:08] They believed that he was going to die in prison. So, they thought, “Hmm. Okay, we don’t have to fight this, and it’s easy. And we don’t have to put a 12-year-old, or a 7-year-old or all these women through it. It saves money for the county, and we can bring another case in.”
Yeardley: [00:26:25] I’m unhappy about this.
Dave: [00:26:27] Dawn?
Dawn: [00:26:28] Yeah.
Dave: [00:26:28] What was your satisfaction level with how that plea deal was handled?
Dawn: [00:26:34] Oh, it’s frustrating. When they don’t get the consequences that they deserve, it’s really frustrating. It feels it dismisses the victimization of these women. But it can’t change everything. My feeling is I go out there do the best job I can, and I can’t hold on to it all. I’d be crazy if I did.
Yeardley: [00:26:54] We always ask our detectives, where do you put it? Since you are one of those remarkable people who goes toward the things that most of us run from. You did it day in and day out until you’re retired. You’re married, yes?
Dawn: [00:27:10] I am.
Yeardley: [00:27:11] And you have children.
Dawn: [00:27:12] I have a daughter.
Yeardley: [00:27:13] How do you balance seeing the worst of humanity every single day, and then going home and be a mom and a wife and a civilian when you take off your uniform?
Dawn: [00:27:25] Yeah. Except for I don’t think that you ever are a civilian. I don’t think you ever are. I don’t know that police officers or detectives, especially who deal with this stuff necessarily, mentally and emotionally deal with it. I think they think they do, until they start having intrusive imagery. I think they think they do, until they see a parent and a child walking down the street and they’re convinced in their own self that something bad is happening to that child. I think it’s a constant struggle. I’ve been retired now for five years, and I still catch myself being on high alert. Compound trauma is what it is.
Yeardley: [00:28:01] Is that a technical term, compound trauma?
Dawn: [00:28:04] It actually is, or maybe complex trauma is another way of calling it. The best way I can define it is that people who have lived through and experienced trauma, and then they have another set of trauma on top of it, they’re constantly living on high alert. If you think about victims of domestic violence, they don’t get to relax out of that, because they don’t know when the next time is coming. So, when you’re talking about detectives who deal with extreme indifference to human life, and I think that is extreme indifference to human life when we’re talking about people who abused children, or even people who abuse other people, then they’re always on high alert, also. I think that defines complex trauma.
Dave: [00:28:42] I just figured out what’s wrong with me.
Yeardley: [00:28:43] Dave.
Dan: [00:28:43] Dave, there are a lot of things that are wrong with you.
Yeardley: [00:28:47] Sweet Dave. [chuckles] Love Dave.
Dave: [00:28:49] No, that’s well said though. You have these constant new normals where your boundary keeps getting pushed to the right. “Okay, I saw the worst. That’s the worst case I’ll ever have. Hang on, got another one coming,” in the pipeline for you. You have to deal with this now. And you’re like, “Okay,” and you just keep shifting and shifting and shifting. And then, you’re like, “God, that first stuff that wasn’t that bad.”
Yeardley: [00:29:11] And that is not normal.
Dawn: [00:29:13] That is not normal.
Yeardley: [00:29:16] No. Is your husband in law enforcement as well?
Dawn: [00:29:18] Fortunately. I believe fortunately, because I think it’s very hard for people who aren’t in law enforcement to get it. So, there really has to be good open lines of communication between that couple. He has a really hard job, and I get that he’s not going to be home a lot, and he’s going to have callouts, and not a big deal. I know where he’s out, I know what’s happening. So, it’s easy for me to understand.
Yeardley: [00:29:41] I think, too, one of the things we have talked about with some of our guests is because of the kind of work you do and the kinds of things that you see, it can’t not change you. I’m always curious sitting on this side of the table, when you’re in a long-term relationship like that, how does it affect that relationship since you’re both in law enforcement? Dan and Dave always say no matter how much you try to explain to your friends or the people that you love, they’ll never understand what you’ve seen.
Dawn: [00:30:14] Your friends and your family who are not in law enforcement, when they hear things, it’s a story. And it’s actually for those people in law enforcement, an experience. It’s something that happened to them.
Yeardley: [00:30:27] You’ve lived it.
Dawn: [00:30:28] Right. And anything that I say about being married to a cop, it’s a hard job to be married to a cop. We can’t dismiss those spouses that are out there taking care of our cops. They do a good job.
Yeardley: [00:30:39] Right.
Dave: [00:30:41] This particular undercover officer in the fish store, what’s your relationship with him?
Dawn: [00:30:45] I married him.
Yeardley: [00:30:46] [laughs]
Dave: [00:30:48] My question is, at the time, this is almost 10 years ago when this happened, correct?
Yeardley: [00:30:52] Mm-hmm.
Dave: [00:30:52] Were you guys an item then?
Yeardley: [00:30:54] No, after.
Dave: [00:30:55] You had a working relationship with this undercover cop and any detective, doesn’t have to be female, but your brothers and sisters out there who are working with you, you are ultra-sensitive to what’s happening to that other person. I can’t imagine what that was like for your now husband to watch that happen, and the visceral reaction that you would have watching that actually occur.
Dawn: [00:31:21] Right. He wanted an immediate arrest, and I wasn’t ready for that.
Dan: [00:31:25] You wanted to build your case.
Dawn: [00:31:25] Right. I wanted to put it all together. I went into that place believing that he was going to touch me. So, when he touched my butt and he touched my breasts, that wasn’t shocking to me. When he stroked my hair and he talked about my daughter, that’s what creeped me out. That was the worst part for me.
Dave: [00:31:56] After the initial press conference, when you say, “Hey, we have arrested the owner of this fish store, Stanley,” what kind of window are we looking at when people are coming out of the woodwork? Is this a week’s span? Is this over a few months?
Dawn: [00:32:09] From the time that that hit the newspaper, our local paper, because he’s a hometown boy, it was immediate and it probably lasted for a week. There were at least three different detectives calling women back and saying, “Okay, tell me what happened? Tell me your experience.”
Yeardley: [00:32:26] Was the community outraged that he only got 15 months?
Dawn: [00:32:30] I don’t think that they were. He had quite a few supporters come to court. It’s really difficult. I remember that the judge was like, “You may have some supporters, but you’re not a good guy.” But it’s really difficult for these women, these victims to then walk up and think about Grace at 12 years old, walk up, go sit in this little tiny booth on the stand and be the total focus of attention, and here’s all these faces looking at you, like, “Why are you doing this to this old man that looks like Santa Claus in a Hawaiian shirt?” And he did, he looked like Santa Claus. Part of the conditions of his sentencing was that he was no longer allowed to have any kind of customer contact one-on-one. So, he lost his business in the course of this, and he also had to register as a sex offender.
Dave: [00:33:18] Do you get hazard pay or incentive pay for going and diving on the hand grenade in the fish shop?
Dawn: [00:33:23] No.
Dan: [00:33:24] Were you listed as a victim?
Dawn: [00:33:25] Yes, absolutely. Yes, because I wanted to be able to get on the stand and talk about what actually happened to me.
Yeardley: [00:33:32] That’s so interesting. So, he’s out?
Dawn: [00:33:35] No, he’s dead.
Yeardley: [00:33:36] Oh, he’s dead. Oh, he did die.
Dawn: [00:33:38] He did eventually die.
Yeardley: [00:33:40] Oh.
Dawn: [00:33:40] Natural causes.
Dan: [00:33:41] But he got out of prison before he died.
Dawn: [00:33:44] He did get out of prison, yeah. He was sentenced in 2010 to 15 months, and he died in 2017.
Dan: How long was that fish store open?
Dawn: [00:33:52] Oh, years. He started his fish store when he was 16 years old. It moved in different spots in our community, and ended up centrally located.
Dan: [00:34:03] And that’s the one thing about a small town, is he’s the only store in town when it comes to fish.
Dawn: [00:34:08] Absolutely.
Dan: [00:34:08] If you’re in a big city, there are lots of different places you can go. But if you’re into fish and you live in that town, he’s got a monopoly on it.
Dawn: [00:34:15] Right, and saltwater fish especially, because not every place has that.
Dan: [00:34:20] He’s got decades of practice on how to get away with it.
Dawn: [00:34:23] Mm-hmm.
Dan: [00:34:24] What was his affect in court? Was he stoic? Was he smirking?
Dawn: [00:34:29] No, he was like the disabled little old man, like “feel sorry for me” kind of guy. Like, “I don’t know what happened.” He knew exactly what happened. When confronted, he’d be like, “Well, gosh, if I did that, of course, I’m remorseful. I’m going to try harder not to do that.” And it’s like, “Hmm, just don’t do it.”
Dan: [00:34:47] Do you have to really try hard not to touch people?
Dave: [00:34:49] Yeah. It’s interesting, though, when I used to get a new case and say the child is between 5 and 12 years old, and they start to describe this “accidental touching,” the testing the waters type stuff, then you get to talk to the suspect about what was just disclosed to you. You talk to the suspect, and sometimes they do that, “Well, yeah, I mean, I might have accidentally brushed against her breasts with my elbow. I might have accidentally put my hand in her crotch.” And detectives will say things like, “Hey, man, I’ve got nieces, I’ve got a daughter. You know how many times I’ve been accused of putting my hand in their crotch accidentally?” And they look at you like, “Oh, you too?” And you’re like, “Zero.”
Yeardley: [00:35:30] Yeah, zero.
Dave: [00:35:32] It doesn’t happen. It’s amazing. Everyone’s like me, you probably touch kids too, right? You just haven’t been caught. It’s unbelievable how many times these guys have accidentally touched someone’s breasts that they’re brand new, just met them today. Oops.
Yeardley: [00:35:47] It’s shocking.
Dawn: [00:35:47] Yeah. If they are touching relative children, people who are related to them, then they’re probably also touching children that aren’t related to them. I think the statistics is like at least 65%. So, if I’m a bad guy touching my niece, there’s a 65% chance that I’m also touching my neighbor’s niece.
Yeardley: [00:36:08] Right. Ew. Well, Detective Dawn, fascinating and really troubling. I just am troubled by the 15 months, deeply troubled by that.
Dave: [00:36:19] Me too. I thought the sentence was going in a different direction. You’re like, “15 months,” I’m like, “But-but-but all the child porn. What happened?”
Dawn: [00:36:28] No, he’d plead that away. That’s what they do. They plead it away.
Yeardley: [00:36:32] Hmm. Anyway, thank you for doing what you do, for advocating for all of those women at the end of the day, he was at it for a really long time. And at least finally, he was held up for what he is.
Dawn: [00:36:45] Yeah. At least we could put a name on him.
Dave: [00:36:48] Right. Put the sex offender label on him for the last years of his life.
Yeardley: [00:36:51] At least he had to claim it.
Dan: [00:36:53] He had an adult child, I’m guessing.
Dawn: [00:36:55] He did.
Dan: [00:36:55] That adult child, were they present for court proceedings?
Dawn: [00:36:59] I don’t know if his son was present. I do know that his son started a romantic relationship with one of my acquaintances, and she had children. She didn’t believe that Stanley had done this. When he got out of prison, her children were around him.
Yeardley: [00:37:20] Oh, no.
Dawn: [00:37:20] It’s really sad how people can dismiss behavior, and then put our children in a bad spot.
Yeardley: [00:37:26] So, his own family also didn’t believe that he was–
Dawn: [00:37:29] Never believed that he did that.
Dave: [00:37:32] That’s not surprising to me. Some families, you could have a video with DNA and four witnesses, and they’d still say, “He didn’t do it.”
Yeardley: Right. “You set him up,” or something.
Dave: [00:37:42] Right.
Dawn: [00:37:42] I had a mom one time, she was going away for the weekend. She told her husband, “Don’t have sex with my daughter while I’m gone.”
Yeardley: [00:37:49] [gasps] What?
Dawn: [00:37:50] Exactly. They know that this stuff is happening. I guess they have to make this decision, “Do I keep my man? Or do I protect my kid?”
Dave: [00:37:58] Well, there’s different reasons for that, kind of the same cycle of domestic violence. There’s ways that these guys, and we say guys, we’re generalizing, just so everyone knows, we speak in generalities. Usually, in a domestic violence situation or sex abuse situation, it’s a guy who is the perpetrator, and the victim is a female. In domestic violence, they exert their control over their partner, they isolate you from the rest of your family. They are in control of the finances, so you don’t have any options. If you want to leave, you don’t have any way to leave anyway. And this is a situation where you have these male sex offenders and they’ve got the mother or the wife or the girlfriend under their thumb because she doesn’t have any other options.
Dawn: [00:38:47] She can’t see any other options. There are options, but actually seeing them is harder.
Dave: [00:38:52] Right.
Yeardley: [00:38:53] That’s brutal. Thank you so much for joining us today.
Dan: [00:38:57] Thank you, Dawn.
Dawn: [00:38:59] Thank you, guys.
Dave: [00:38:59] Thank you.
Yeardley: [00:39:00] Thank you.[music]
Yeardley: [00:39:05] Small Town Dicks is produced by Gary Scott and Yeardley Smith, and coproduced by Detectives Dan and Dave. This episode was edited by Soren Begin, Gary Scott, and me, Yeardley Smith. Our associate producers are Erin Gaynor, the Real Nick Smitty, and Alec Cowan. Our music is composed by John Forest. Our editors extraordinare are Logan Heftel and Soren Begin. And our books are cooked and cats wrangled by Ben Cornwell.
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Yeardley: [00:40:22] That’s right. Your subscription also makes it possible for us to keep going to small towns across the country-
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