Dec 24, 2010


Wally has been located. In light of the previous blog, and the reference to the popular 80's "Wheres Waldo" books, I had a private snicker when I pried open the trunk lid and saw Wally; he was wearing a red and white shirt.

After standing in the cold, snowy wrecking yard for 4 hours waiting for a search warrant to open the car up, I was cursing winter weather. However when I saw Wally, I noted that he (in spite of being killed almost two weeks ago, way back on the 9th) was "Just killed" fresh. I should be very thankful to the good Lord for the cold, in that there was absolutely NO smell (or fish bait... if ya know what I mean).

Fortunately for me, because I am less adverse to grabbing frozen bodies than Detective Brew, he got to go and notify the family. I can shield myself from tragedy with the whole puzzle of trying to discover what exactly went on, and a bit of dark humor; but there is always a family that has experienced loss. Didn't matter if the victim was Mother Theresa or Genghis Kahn, the family only sees what was good, and if there was nothing good they fantasize that there could have been good. It's pretty common, look online at "Obituaries" from a large metropolitan area and try and concentrate on those where there is a young person (16-26 years old) that has died and there is no reference to a medical problem. This leaves suicides, car accidents and victims of violence. Often times you will read lines like, "He was turning his life around" or "Those close to him know he had a good heart."

I used to absolutely scoff at this stuff, showing others at the PD the obit for some criminal victim (we collect them as part of the case file) and just laugh at the absolutely fictional crud being written about poor gang-banger Gary, shot in a drive by; "He loved his family... he was a loving son... he had just re-enrolled in school and was going to get his diploma... blah blah blah..."

BUT, now that I'm older, I realize more each day what a sinner I am, and think to myself: Don't YOU want YOUR family to think what is best about you? Shouldn't your family be the one who has hope for you, no matter how many times you screw up?

I read the obituaries now without laughing; and God bless families who still have hope for their criminal, no-good, drug-dealing, car-thieven sons.

Merry Christmas

Dec 22, 2010

Where's Waldo?

Wally the car thief is missing. Rumor on the street is he stole the wrong car, belonging to a local member of the Northwest chapter of either Sharks or Jets (Westside Story reference), and ended up being shot and dumped on some mountain side near town. Detective Drew and I have walked about 6 miles of dirt roads looking for the body... every other day we hear a rumor of where Wally could be, and we would rush right out and look at lots of nothing.

This morning Evidence Tech Kristen came to my desk and said, "Fire (aid crew) is responding to a body in the canal just north of town!" The scene is pretty macabre, here we are, a couple of supposedly responsible, well-adjusted adults all giddy to go look at a dead guy as if we were a couple of school girls running to the store because they just heard glitter nail polish is two for one today only.

Bummer for us, the dead guy was not Wally. Just some poor slob who got mad at the misses and went running out into the night, forgetting he lives next to a swift-water canal. I guess he wanted to "Cool off." (rim shot baaadda BISH). Sorry, bad joke, but it's tough to get too worked up over stupid.

Well... maybe I will get lucky tomorrow, it's a new day, and it's winter in Yakima- which means it's really tough to dig in frozen ground ... so, It's just a matter of time before we find Wally.

Aug 17, 2010

Booze and Heights Don't Mix

Went to an autopsy today of a teenage kid. Any time you have a dead young person, there is a measure of pity for a life wasted, in spite of whatever circumstance (gunshot, suicide, stabbing, broken bottle, drowning, auto-erotic, car crash etc...) caused the death. But, all of that tragedy is sometimes covered by a thin layer of "Normalcy," which for cops means trying to be funny. Don't misunderstand- there is nothing funny about death, but often how WE (the living) deal with it is hilarious.

Saturday night. Very warm here in Yakima, and the young folk were out in force; dancing, making out and of course, drinking alcoholic beverages. Often times these same drunk kids climb into a car and try and drive home (or somewhere to find more dancing and/or alcohol). A young lady (drunk) had in the passenger seat a boy (also drunk) while driving down a local thoroughfare when said drunk girl "Loses control" of her car. Loses control??!? What does that really mean? Did she misplace her steering wheel? Drop her brake peddle in the toilet? So car smashes into center divider, fenders are crumpled, air bags are deployed and guy realizes that he probably wont "get lucky" tonight... After the crash, the driver is probably thinking what she will tell mom; passenger is probably only thinking about getting out of there before the cops come. So that's what he does; he gets out, runs to the side of the road and leaps over the guard rail.

The cops do come, they arrest little Miss .14 blood alcohol and place her in the county lock up.

Fast forward 6 hours. Elderly lady walking her dog along a canal bank sees a guy laying on the ground, a closer look (and a few licks from Fluffy) convinces her that the guy is dead, so she flips out her Jitterbug and calls 911.

The cops first arrive and instantly assume they have a homicide on their hands- this guy was obviously suffering some severe head trauma and had broken bones all over. Finally, a Detective arrives (my partner) and puzzles for a while, because he thinks that the injuries look nothing like an assault.

There was one late graveyard officer still working, who took the call before reporting in for the morning; he pointed up and casually commented to the detective,

"Funny, there was an accident right there last night."

Everyone then looked up at the road overpass to where he was pointing, 49 feet above the exact spot where the body lay.

Oops. As the saying goes: look before you leap, or maybe it should be: don't drink and jump.

Not a homicide, just another drinking related death. Sad.

Aug 15, 2010

The Glorious Agony of Defeat....

Been fairly quiet in the little town of Yakima. Speaking of Yak-Town, I was watching a Nickelodeon Channel show called "iCarly" (it's funny- don't knock it.) In this episode, the star, a teenager named Carly, was going to have to move from her home in Seattle, to Yakima. Throughout the show they kept saying "Yakima" like it was a very funny word, then it came to me... it IS a funny sounding word, but the most common mistake is to pronounce it ya-KEY-mah. It is pronounced YAK-i-mah, with the i pronounced as in it.

You can now sound like a native Yakimaniac, Yakimanian, Yakiwhatever.

The excitement this week was found (as it often is) in SWAT training. We went up into the Gifford Pinchot (no idea who he was, I'm surrounded by funny names) National Forest and snuck around, looking for.... ME. Having done this stuff for as long as I have, it's best to give the new guys a chance to go up against me in an ambush situation. Now understand, I don't want to win; I want them to win; it means that all of us old guys did well teaching them.

I took a few pictures of the environment; it's a pretty area:

The problem came when my ambush position was flanked by very accurate return fire from what are deceptively called "Air Soft" guns. They may use "air" as a propellant, but the .22 caliber polymer resin balls are anything but "soft."

After the guys "killed" me, I took this photo and texted it to my wife; only saying, "I got shot."

As you may guess, I got in big trouble for not explaining right away that it was no more than a shaving cut, although I waited until I got home to wash off the trickle of blood (MAJOR sympathy points scored there.)

The following day, the newest guy on the team came up and apologized. He was the one who shot me, but was too afraid of me to tell me on the day it happened. Afraid?!?! My first thought was- "Why would any other cop be afraid of me? I'm harmless!" Plus, I was very impressed with the teamwork and shooting; they did what they were supposed to, and did it quickly. But the second thought I had was, "Cool... the new guys are afraid of me!" Nothing wrong with some respect associated with the old dudes, right?

Aug 4, 2010

Can't stay out of the water...

After a week of cooking at camp, I got back to my desk with 18 voice messages (not too bad). One was a lawyer wanting his client's (who just got life for a 1993 rape/murder) jewelry back that I seized from the search of his apartment. Evidently after he was arrested last year, he found someone to marry and wants to give her the baubles. I guess for this woman it's the safest relationship she could ever have, think about it.

Another was from a guy who had a .45 auto stolen back in 2001. It was recovered two years ago, but the crime lab won't release it until they check it against ever unknown murder with a .45 since Liberty Valance took one in the head. I don't blame him for being upset, i'd want my gun back too. Then there's the insurance company who keeps bugging me to release a totaled stolen truck used in a double homicide- I don't know why they want it so bad; maybe the CEO is a really creepy guy who has a collection of "Death cars" or something as macabre. One call from a "Internet Sleuth" who thinks he has solved my 1977 Jane Doe homicide... ya right... maybe I'll call him and ask who really was on the grassy knoll as well. A call from the family of a guy who's been missing for two years wondering if the skeleton we recovered from the Naches river was their loved one. Finally, a call from the vampires at the American Red Cross, saying it's time to bleed me of my evil humors again (three months already??)

I then got my latest issue of "Sniper," its a trade newsletter that had an awesome article titled "T Zone Targets Are Dumb." Any author that un-PC deserves at lease a thorough read.

Finally, one of the patrol guys was chasing a shoplifter near the Yakima River. He jumped into the fast-running water and was lost among heavy brush along the river banks. I arrived to see if I could help (and get away from the dull-drums of the office) when Sgt Tim yells at me, "Hey Kellett, since you're not weighted down with gun belts and Kevlar, you're going to be the designated rescue swimmer." Repeat your traffic??!!? I'm doomed to spend this summer in the water while at work. Wait a minute... it's 98 degrees here today... maybe I like my job as the jump-in-the-cool-water-rescue-guy; I'd cool off, then get to go home early to "Change." Problem is, we lost him. I don't know whether he got away, hid better than we could see or has assumed ambient river temperature now due to an untimely undercurrent. Poor guy, all over a 2 lb bag of frozen shrimp. If he is dead (God have mercy), I hope he can come up with a better story for St Pete than, "I didn't have 5 bucks for seafood." If he is stuck to the bottom somewhere (I truly don't wish for that he is), it would be total irony that he is now being consumed by sea life.

It's late and I didn't do anything on my list today.

Jul 31, 2010

Too Funny to be False

Well, after my last adventure with Yakima Police Department's Water Wading Squad, I thought that everything would be smooth. We got some updated information on where the gun was tossed and we thought we would go out one more time. I again loaned Detective Drew my wet suit, and reminded him that the ZIPPER GOES IN BACK. He stepped out of the bushes, wet suit donned and ready to plunge into the cold waters; I took one look and was in disbelief... he got the zipper in back, but it was inside out. "Drew, your killin me!" Was all could choke out, I thought he was putting me on... instead of the colorful "O'Neal" logo, a simple stenciled, "XL MADE IN TAIWAN" was what it said in front. Amber was laughing so hard she couldn't hold the camera steady for 4 minutes to take a picture.

I got to hand it to Drew; no turning red, no embarrassment, he just quietly said "F--- it" and got into the water.

We still didn't find a gun.

Jul 17, 2010

Amber's Photos

I last wrote about Evidence Tech Amber, and her tendency not to photograph actual evidence, but rather me- doing whatever is humorous or embarrassing. Here is the photo you all requested-me in my putrification mask:

It seems as though there are more of these sorts of photos; luckily, I'm not the only target. What follows is the story of more of Amber's pics that were taken last Thursday:

Detectives Drew and Kasey worked up a suspect in a murder (I think it was number 6 of 11 so far this year). After making the arrest, Detective Kasey gets info. that the murder weapon was tossed into a local waterway. Sgt Mike thought that we could probably go and try to find the gun ourselves, mostly because he has a cool salmon boat, and it's been in the upper 90's here. What a great idea, right? We all thought it would be a great day, playing in the water, maybe finding critical evidence at the same time; where is the downside? Of course, Amber HAD to come and take some photos... in case we did find evidence. I went and grabbed some of my wet suits, and met the guys by the river. Drew and I changed into wet suits (he burrowed one of my shorties, and I got into my surfer O'Neil).

Unfortunately (for Drew), I didn't notice that he had put the wet suit on BACKWARDS until he was posing proudly for Amber:

Ya buddie, I thought you knew... the zipper goes in BACK. Sorry dude.

I was dragged behind the boat while snorkeling and looking at the bottom. Every now and then water would breach the snorkel, and I would pop up- sputtering and gasping for air; Amber was there to record every moment:

Well, nobody drowned, and we found nothing; but Amber got some laughs, along with some funny shots. After it was over, we all posed at the boat for one last photo. Detectives Brew, Drew, me, and Sgt Mike.

Ya, I know... Drew never did put the suit on right.

Jun 25, 2010

Follow the Flies

Yesterday I was sitting at my desk doing an in-car video storyboard for a car chase that ended up with two people (innocent drivers) dead. I play the in car video and take stills, then circle or point out stuff that a potential jury may otherwise miss; for instance: in every frame which shows the alleged suspect, I circle him and write in big red letters, with arrows and underlining "GUILTY GUILTY GUILTY... CONVICT NOW!" I feel that these features may assist juries in reaching a fair and impartial decision.

Well... enough about my fantasy life...

While at my desk, Sgt. H. called me and wanted me to come take a look at something they found in a garbage bag, it may be a (bum bum BUM!) dead body. Now, if youve read my stuff, you know that I get these pretty frequently, and don't get too excited about them, but I find just enough rotting human corpses to take every call seriously. So I called to Amber, the Evidence Tech and told her to get her camera... just in case it's missing Uncle Harry.

We arrive and meet Sgt. H, at the same time I get the SMELL. It's something dead. He points me over to a ballooning garbage bag, covered with Blowflies (Calliphoridae). The top has a couple wraps of intestine bulging out, and I know that the bag is going to have to be opened- by me.

I'll share a big secret with you all, I'm a wimp when it comes to smells. So I bought myself a "Putrification Filter mask" a while back, it's rubber, fits around the nose and mouth and has two white filters that stick out on either side; kind of makes me look like a fly. Anyway, I put the mask on and approach the bag with a knife and start poking, I can hear Amber's Nikon clicking away in the background. I cut it open and find wraps and wraps of intestine... pig intestine. Someone had one heck of a BBQ and didn't want to toss the guts into a proper garbage receptacle.

We got back to the division and everyone wanted to know what we found, so I just grabbed Amber's camera, took the memory card out and put it in my computer. I opened the pictures and saw nothing of the guts, just pictures of me wearing the silly mask. I asked Amber, "Why didn't you take any pictures of the guts?" "Because" she replied, "You said they weren't human, and that mask made you look so funny I needed to show people THAT."

No respect.

Photos to follow... I'm on vacation now.

May 7, 2010

To Shelly's Family...

Dear Family member,
I read your post am I am very sorry it caused you some pain, however you must understand this post deals with my side of working in Law Enforcement. You are absolutely right, my job is very ugly at times, and I see every bit of it's uglyness, every day; and it is not easy. It sometimes shreds my humanity and haunts my dreams. This post is a way I can deal with it, by sharing with others a perspective that they often may not see, or ever know exists because of the predominance of unrealistic media portrayal of police. I know that you loved and cared for your aunt, however you must know that I cared for her very much, even though I never met her alive; because it is my job to make sure she has justice. Often times it never happens, but in this case we were able to make a quick conclusion because of the events I described. My insights into the world of Law Enforcement, I hope, are helpful to all (most of all you) who read them as they see that cops are not without emotions of all sorts. We feel hurt, joy, humor, sorrow, sympathy in every situation we deal with, even death. Please know that I work hard to make sure that the dead have a voice in the justice system, and that we police are just as human as anyone else. You let me know if you would like me to pull the story, I will at your request.

Apr 5, 2010

Where all the Bodies are Buried...

A couple weeks ago I was given information that there was a woman who knew where a dead body was buried. I called her and got the information; she started out by telling me she "...used to run with a wild crowd." Translation: She hasn't been able to afford meth for a week. And now that her head is somewhat cleared of the drug, she starts processing what had been happening for the past year.

She claimed some drug dealer she was shacking up with told her that he had killed a guy several years ago in my fine city. I suspect that he was trying to impress, or scare her, but she believed him enough to call the police and report it, albeit 3 months later. She alleged that he gave her a detailed description of what he did, and where he had buried the body.

Well, I'm a sucker for a good buried body, so I obtained as much of the description as I could, and thought that perhaps I could find this place. I got Detective Robertson, and we followed the directions to an abandoned area in the woods. It was very remote, and I saw it as a great place to spend some time digging a grave. Hasty graves have a particular look to them; when you first bury a body, you have too much soil. The reason is 1) you've loosened the compact dirt and 2) you now have a bodies worth of volume you are putting in the hole. So, you end up with a mound of fresh dirt- for a while. As the body dehydrates, is consumed by natural processes (bugs and bacteria), and the soil compacts itself through rain, the mound falls in on itself, leaving what appears to be a ring of slightly raised ground surrounding a small depression. After some years, hard objects like bones tend to work their way up and can expose themselves, if they are not carried off by critters, who enjoy a little calcium in their diet. As I'm thinking about all of this, I see some bones.

Kind of jumped started my heart for awhile, but on closer inspection, it was some bones from a goat. The reports of dumped dead bodies coming into the PD are fairly common in an area where fresh goat is often on the fiesta menu, and you get fined if you put the goat remains in your own garbage can; chalk up another dumb law with it's unintended consequences.

Then, in a secluded area (among the already secluded area), I saw a fresh mound; not more than a week or two old. This was NOT the reported grave site, but another one. There was no question about it, someone went to a great deal of trouble to bury a body in a uniquely remote area. The following day, we got a crew together, led by my new supervisor, Sargent Mike. We went back to the gravesite and Mike started digging. After a few shovel fulls, we started getting the dead body smell; but there was something a bit different, it was not quite like the dead bodies I have smelled in the past. Mike continued digging and came upon it. Suddenly, we all knew why someone had gone to this much trouble to conceal a dead body. It was a the dead body of a huge skunk.

One of the detectives theorized that perhaps a murderer would place a skunk on TOP of the victim to throw off detectives... well, it worked. Mr (or Mrs) Murderer, if you did bury a body a month or so ago, and you placed a dead skunk on top; you got away with murder.

Mar 30, 2010

Death in the Dirty Book Store

Dead bodies are in plentiful supply this spring. 5 murders so far this year, and that’s not counting all the “Unattended Deaths” (where gramps goes in his sleep at home… all in all not a bad way to expire), “Equivocal Deaths” (the heroin needle sticking out of dead guy’s arm is LIKELY why loser is at room temperature- but ya still have to investigate) and, of course, Suicides (no explanation needed).

The last one was pretty bad, some down-on-his-luck 29 year old street urchin went into an adult bookstore one morning and decided that he needed the cash in the till and an “Adult latex novelty device” so badly that he beat the 70 year old clerk to death with a heavy tool (can’t be more specific… got to keep with what’s in the press release and arraignment info). The poor old guy died quickly of the head injuries; blood marks on a hallway leading to the toilet are the last sign of the old man’s life.

Once the suspect was identified, I had to wade through his filthy, hoarder’s dream apartment that he shared with 3 dogs and 4 cats serving a search warrant.

My objective: find the “Adult latex novelty device”… oh boy… yippe…

I located it.

Now I need to take another shower, just because I thought about it again.

Why aren’t there more rookies around when these things need to be bagged and tagged?

BTW… I know what you guys are thinking, it was NOT a dildo.

A security camera was working during the murder, here is the actual photo taken by the security camera and released to local media:

And here is a photo of the guy being arrested after 1.21 gajjillion people called me to tell me who it was. Yup, he saw the news too and shaved.

Photos courtesy of

Story here:

Feb 26, 2010

A Stroll Through the Wilderness

You might have remembered that a few months ago, someone at a mental hospital here in Washington State thought it would be a great idea to take a few of the in-custody insane murderers out on a field trip to the County Fair. I know, I know, what a great idea, right? Especially since one of these killers was not taking his medication, and had recently reported that voices were telling him to kill a child. Well, no one thought it odd when he stuffed all of his clothing into a backpack for a 4-hour outing. After wandering the fair for awhile, the nanny lost track of said insane killer, then decided to call his boss, who told him NOT to report it to the police, because the insane murderer may have just gotten lost, and may show up. Three hours later, they finally decided to call local police. Fast forward a couple of days: the Yakima SWAT Team gets a call that this killer was last seen hitchhiking to the wilderness of south central Washington State, about 70 miles from Yakima.

A team of 8 of us, along with ORV quads, penetrate into the wilderness in an attempt to track this guy before he hurts someone.

Here is the typical rough terrain we walked through for the next 8 hours.

This is Officer "Hammie," he is eating the only food we brought with us, a pack of cheeze crackers.

It seemed as though crazed killers were not the only threat in the wilderness:

That's right... it's bear poop. I looked carefully at the "Scat", however did not locate any undigested murderers, just wild rose berries... I guess we keep looking.

Second danger... rattlesnakes. I stopped Sgt. Chad from killing this one, not it's fault we were tramping all over it's mouse-hunting grounds.

Being the most senior guy entitiled me to grab the shotgun as soon as we spotted all the "bear sign."

Well we walked and walked, not finding the guy. He had doubled back and walked out to the road and was arrested by roadblock units. But here we are, stuck about 5 miles into the wilderness when we are notified that the guy gave up. Our only communication at the time (not having a SAT phone) was a radio relay with a Washington State Patrol airplane; and as soon as the guy was found, he was gone, leaving us with no communications.

Well, we didn't see anything other than wildlife, The guy was caught and nobody broke an ankle. I suppose that's a succesfull mission.