Tales from Homicide CopEarly in my career as a homicide detective for the Tulsa, Oklahoma, police department, I learned the value of using every off-beat trick I could think of—as long as they were not illegal—in order to cast killers behind bars where they belonged. While my methods might be unorthodox, they busted cases where more conventional methods of investigation would have left suspects free to continue to prey upon innocent people.

Nobody said you had to play fair when it came to trapping killers. Take the gang of junkies who shot a druggist during an armed robbery. The only clue we had on the identity of the actual shooter was the name “Marty” and a telephone number we took from the suspect in custody.

I dialed the number while Detective Hanks listened in on an extension. When a man answered, I disguised my voice to sound like David, the Junkie we had in custody. I wanted the actual shooter.

Never in a criminal’s wildest nightmare does he expect a cop to telephone him like this. They aren’t the brightest lilies in the valley.

“Marty?”

“Yeah?” Suspicious.

“This is David.”

“You don’t sound like David.”

I jumped down his throat. “What do you mean it don’t sound like David? The pigs got me in jail. I wanted to warn you.”

What? Okay, take it easy, David. Just don’t tell them nothing.”

“The cops know I was with you when you shot that drug store dude.”

I could almost hear Marty’s heart pounding.

“You ain’t telling them nothing, David, you hear? You know what happens to snitches. Keep your trap shut if you know what’s good for you.”

“Somebody’s already snitching,” I responded, edging my voice into a whine. “That’s how they caught me.”

Marty cursed. “Ron Kidman! I should have knowed he couldn’t keep his mouth shut. He’s as good as dead when I catch up with him. The same thing goes for you, David, if you open your mouth.”

“I ain’t no Ron, Marty!”

“Who is them pigs got you, David?”

I glanced at Hanks on the extension phone.

“There’s two of ’em,” I said. “One of them is tall and bald and ugly. Name’s Hanks.”

Hanks slapped a hand over his phone to smother a laugh.

“The other one is young and good-looking with dark curly hair,” I continued.

What?”

You know. Looks like one of them TV cops. Name’s Sasser.”

“Oh, yeah,” Marty said.

Ron Kidman and Marty soon joined the real David in jail. Kidman and David struck a deal with the DA to testify against Marty, the actual gunman.

By this time Marty realized it wasn’t David who had telephoned him. I grinned when he hunkered down and refused to answer any questions.

“Never mind,” I assured him. “You don’t have to talk to me. If I need anything else, I’ll call you on the telephone.”

Charles W. Sasser is now a freelance writer, journalist and author of over 60 books. His latest book is Crushing the Collective: America’s Last Chance to Remain Free and Self-Governing.