Do You Have Tickets to the Gun Show? Mayor Bloomberg Does.

October 9, 2009 Leave a comment

What has happened is that these so-called ‘private sellers’ are using gun shows to run profitable businesses while criminals and traffickers are using the private sellers to buy guns anonymously and easily..no questions asked… [source]

New York City mayor, Mayor Michael Bloomberg, is working overtime to expose the loophole hidden in gun shows.  The mayor was quick to point out that he is NOT trying to violate the 2nd Amendment or people’s right to bear arms.  Rather, he is trying to expose the inherent dangers that could possibly stem from private, unlicensed gun dealers selling deadly weapons to people who haven’t passed background checks.

The Investigation

Mayor Bloomberg put together this wide-ranging sting operation, hiring a team of 40 private investigators from an outside firm to purchase weapons at seven different gun shows.  Investigators attempted 33 purchases from 30 private gun sellers, and after the private investigators audibly stated to the sellers that they couldn’t pass a background check, the majority of sellers still proceeded with the gun sales 22 times. The result? Investigators discovered that 74% of the dealers at each of the gun shows were selling weapons to people who they knew couldn’t pass a background check.

Advocates of tighter gun control argue that this loophole in gun shows makes it that much easier for criminals to acquire guns.  It also makes it more difficult for police to trace the origin of the weapons if they are used in crimes.

The sting operations took place from May 2009 to August 2009 at seven gun shows held in Tennessee, Ohio and Nevada and cost NYC taxpayers approximately $1.5 million.  What is perhaps the most surprising is that the aforementioned states are among many states that allow private, unlicensed gun dealers to sell weapons at gun shows without first conducting background checks.  However, nine states (including New York) have passed laws to close the loophole, requiring background checks on purchases made at gun shows.  And according to one article that was published recently:

The Bloomberg administration went ahead with the investigation despite a Department of Justice warning in 2007 that came after the city conducted a similar sting in 2006 to catch straw purchases, which is when someone fills out the paperwork and buys a firearm for another person.

The city has no legal authority over the dealers and is using its findings to make a point about the unregulated sales of so-called “occasional dealers.” A copy of the report is being sent to every member of Congress and the findings will be shared the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

In the meantime, the National Rifle Association (NRA) claims that Mayor Bloomberg’s sting operation was nothing more than a publicity stunt.  What do you think?

For more information about criminal investigations, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.

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15 Safety Tips Every Woman Should Know

October 8, 2009 1 comment

photo source: Arbron on Flickr

The following is a collection of 15 safety tips for women:

  1. If you carry a purse, avoid ones that dangle from the shoulder.  These types of bags can be easily yanked off by a thief.
  2. If you do carry a purse, always be aware of your surroundings.  Keep your bag close to your body, tucked in the bend of your elbow.
  3. If you must walk somewhere, try to minimize the amount of money that you carry around.  If you have to have a ton of cash on you, try to divide it up so that some is in your purse and some is in your pockets.
  4. Avoid shortcuts that are not well traveled- especially ones that aren’t well lit.
  5. If someone drops you off at home late at night, ask that they wait until you get inside.
  6. Pay attention to your surroundings and know what kinds of stores or other buildings look safe in the area just in case you need to duck into one for safety reasons.
  7. Always park your vehicle in a well-lit area; and always make sure that you look around prior to entering your vehicle.
  8. Before you enter your car, glance into the back seat just to make sure that there isn’t anyone hiding in the back seat.
  9. As soon as you enter your vehicle, make sure you lock your doors immediately.
  10. Prior to exiting your vehicle, make sure that you have your housekeys in your hand.
  11. If you live in an apartment, use your judgment to decide  whether or not to get into an elevator with someone  you don’t know.
  12. When walking somewhere, always walk briskly and look like you know where you are going.  If you look distracted, it may make it easier for someone to attack you.
  13. Make sure that you are appropriately dressed when you go out.  For example, you may not be able to defend yourself quite as well while wearing high heels.  If you have to, wear a pair of comfortable walking shoes to work and then change shoes once you are safely inside the building.
  14. If you are in your vehicle and suspect that someone is following you, never stop or pull your car over to allow them to pass.
  15. If someone is following you while driving, use a cell phone and continue to the nearest police station.  Do not get out of your vehicle  until police officer step outside and comes over to greet you.

For more information about domestic surveillance, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.

Categories: advice Tags: , , ,

Private Investigators’ Interrogation Leads to Questions About School Policy & Safety of Children

October 5, 2009 Leave a comment

If a couple of policemen walked into a school and asked to speak to a student, would you have a problem with it?  What if the persons wanting to speak with the student were not policemen but, instead, were private investigators?

According to a recent article published by 9News.com, a couple of private investigators from CSI Consulting and Investigations were looking for a missing child involved in a civil custody case.  Donning custom-made badges and baseball caps that read “CSI,” investigators showed up at Shaffer Elementary School and  showed a picture of the missing child to school principal, Gina Rivas.  After some time, Rivas volunteered the name of a student whom she felt most resembled the one on the missing child flyer.

Investigators wound up interviewing 8-year-old student, Lily Findley, about the missing child and the custody case.   So, what was the problem then?  Apparently, the principal never asked the investigators for any identification, relying solely on appearances and trusting that they were some sort of law enforcement officials.  However, John Sampson, one of the private investigators and owner of CSI Consulting and Investigations, was quoted as saying that the principal was informed right up front that the investigators were from a private investigators company. Sampson further stated that sheriff’s deputies as well as the little girl’s parents were not involved at all until Sampson insisted that they be present.

The article goes on to state:

Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Deputy Jim Shires said authorities were first notified of the situation at the school by the private investigators. Deputies called the Findleys, he said.

“We were told by school staff that they thought these gentlemen, these private investigators were police,” said Shires. “We do not believe any police impersonation took place.” [source]

While there may have been no harm done, this incident raises many questions about the judgment (or lack thereof) that school officials exercise as well as the possible ease with which someone might impersonate a government official in order to manipulate children…or possibly kidnap them.  What do you think about this situation?  Do you think that the principal is wholly to blame?

For more information about criminal investigations, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.

The County Fair: A Great Place for Food, Rides…and Killers?

September 22, 2009 Leave a comment

According to a recent news article,  a criminally insane murderer escaped during a mental hospital field trip to a county fair near Spokane, Washington on Thursday, September 17th.

Phillip Arnold Paul was one of thirty-one patients who were taking a field trip with 11 other staff members of Eastern State Hospital.  Paul, age 47, had been committed to Eastern State Hospital after he was acquitted by reason of insanity in the 1987 slaying of an elderly woman. Knowing all of this, why would you want to bring someone like Paul to a fair?

In order to travel on group outings, all patients from Eastern State Hospital have to be cleared by a treatment team.  These patients wear normal, street clothing, and it is not mandatory that everyone stay together as long as staff members can keep each patient within eyesight at all times.

Paul spent almost three days on the run from authorities before he was picked up on Sunday, September 20, 2009 near Goldendale, WA.  He is currently locked down in a secure area of Eastern State Hospital under supervision.

So, what about the motive for why Paul attempted to escape? According to local authorities, Paul’s escape was meticulously planned.  One news report had the following to say:

Spokane County Sheriff Ozzie Knezovich said Paul conned a friend into giving him a ride from Spokane to Goldendale, about 180 miles southwest, near the Oregon border. The friend believed Paul had been legally released. When the friend saw news reports of the escape, he contacted authorites and led them to the point where he had dropped off Paul.  The escape was apparently triggered when Paul’s request to move from the mental hospital to a residential facility in downtown Spokane was rejected by a judge earlier this month. The judge found that Paul represented “a threat to public safety.” [source]

Facing much criticism and outrage from the public, Eastern State Hospital has come under great scrutiny as local authorities try to figure out how something like this could have been allowed to happen.  State senator, Mike Carrell, is apparently in the middle of trying to draw up legislation to prevent this from happening again.  In the meantime, head of the state Department of Social and Health Services, Susan Dreyfus, has put a temporary stop on all field trips for those mental health patients who have been committed for treatment as a result of criminal proceedings.

One thing is for certain, however.  Someone with the criminal and mental history that Paul has may have been better off sitting this one out.

For more information about domestic surveillance, contact Cat’s Eye Private Investigations today at 919.878.9988 or submit a confidential request form here.

Categories: criminal, news

Inmate Uses Bedsheets to Escape from Prison

September 21, 2009 Leave a comment

If there is one thing that Joshua Duane Barnes is really good at, it’s being a masterful escape artist.  The only downside is getting caught in the act.  According to a recent news article, 21 year-old Barnes escaped from a medical unit within the Potter County Detention Center in Amarillo, TX.

Third Time is the Charm

This isn’t the first time that Barnes has escaped from prison.  In fact, Barnes has escaped from custody twice before.  Barnes’ first break from custody came in June of 2008 when he fled the county courthouse shortly after being asked to take the stand during a probation violation.  His next escape came in October of 2008 when Barnes fled from the county jail recreational yard after jumping onto a roof and using it as leverage to gain access to the fence.  In both instances, Barnes was found four days later, hiding out at motels. [source]

With regards to Barnes’ most recent prison break; according to a spokesman for the Texas Department of Criminal Justice, Barnes had engaged in a physical altercation with another inmate and was being held in a special offender unit for the injuries that he had sustained.  He was alone in a locked room when officers performed a routine check and discovered that Barnes was missing.  Upon closer inspection of the room, there was a hole in the wall.

ABC News reports:

Authorities believe Barnes cut a hole through the room’s sheetrock to reach a portion of the window blocked by the wall and then, after busting through the half-inch to inch-thick glass, tied bedsheets together to rappel from the seventh-story room to the roof of another building about five floors below. [source]

This time around, Texas and other federal authorities are hoping that they can round up Barnes for good.  However, there is much criticism circulating around the fact that this is the third time Barnes has gotten away.  One would like to think that the security at the prison would’ve been beefed up a little by now.

Apparently, not enough.

If he is apprehended,  Barnes (who is currently serving a 35-year sentence for multiple burglaries as well as aggravated assault) will certainly have plenty of years left to practice his great escapes.

For more information about private investigations, contact Cat’s Eye Private Investigations today at 919.878.9988.

Annie Le Murder Still Leaves Questions About Motive

September 18, 2009 Leave a comment

A 24 year-old  graduate student of  Yale University’s School of Medicine was brutally murdered just before her wedding day.  Annie Le was set to wed James Widawsky, a 24 year-old physics student at Columbia University, on Sunday, September 13th, but never made it down the aisle. According to the Connecticut medical examiner; on Sunday, September 13th, Le’s body was found stuffed in a crawl space of the research center where she worked in the Yale Medical School complex.  Evidence showed that Le (who only stood at 4 feet 11 inches tall and weighed around 90 lbs) was killed by asphyxiation caused by severe neck trauma.

But who would dare to commit such a heinous crime?

Police have since turned their attention to 24 year-old Raymond Clark III, who worked as an animal laboratory technician at Yale University in the same building as  Le.  Clark worked in a custodial role at the same laboratory where Le conducted research.  One of his duties was cleaning the cages where the experimental mice lived, something which would have brought him into contact with Le. [source] However, investigators first became suspicious of Clark after FBI agents and Yale police were combing the basement of the Yale University laboratory building where Le was last seen.

Among the people searching the lab was Clark.

According to a law enforcement official involved in the investigation, Clark moved among the other officials in an “apparent effort to cover his tracks” [source].  The Hartford Courant reports:

One investigator, among a group of investigators who were in the lab interviewing employees and students shortly after Le disappeared, witnessed Clark trying to hide lab cleaning equipment that they discovered contained blood spatters. Clark was observed cleaning up areas that Le was in before she was reported missing, the law enforcement official said.

While this aroused suspicion among some of the investigators, the final piece that led to Clark’s arrest on September 17, 2009, was the discovery that evidence in both the ceiling and in the crawl space where Le’s body was found contained DNA of both Le and Clark.

As The Evidence Grows, So Does the Question: “Why?”

Adding to the already mounting evidence against Clark, computer records showed that Le had used her Yale ID swipe card to enter the laboratory where she worked on the morning of September 8, 2009.  The Hartford Courant also reported that Clark’s swipe card records showed that he had entered the same room as Le shortly afterwards, indicating that he was the last person to see her alive.  Add, still to this, the fact that Clark failed his polygraph, that there were scratches on his body as well as the fact that he attempted to clean up the crime scene, and you’ve got what seems like a pretty open and shut case.

But there is still the question as to the motive.

Sources say that just hours before Le was reported missing by her roommate, Clark had sent a text message to Le requesting a meeting to discuss the cleanliness of the cages that the research animals were kept in, leading some to believe that the crime may have been linked to an issue of workplace violence.  There are also several other sources which are describing Clark as a “control freak” who often clashed with researchers and viewed the laboratory as his territory.

But still…why Annie Le?

Chris Le had the following to say about his sister after learning about her tragic death:

Stuck in a 4’11 frame, she had a 7′ tall personality.  She will always live on through us.. [source]

For more information about hiring a private investigator for a criminal investigation, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.

Private Investigator Reunites Siblings After 34 Years

September 14, 2009 2 comments

Adolescence  can be an extremely difficult and trying time for anyone. After a family dispute between father and daughter separated Donna Martin from her brother, Max (then 12 years of age), Max never stopped searching for his sister.  Now, almost 34 years later, and with the help of a private investigator, Max and his sister have been reunited.

Help Where You Least Expect It

So, how did Max go about this business of finding his sister?  After approximately 16 years, Max hired a private investigator-two in fact! However, the investigators were not able to produce any findings.  Despite the fact that Max was unaware of his sister’s whereabouts, he never gave up the hope of one day finding her.

And then help came from an unexpected place.

Max’s 15 year-old daughter had befriended another young lady and the two developed a friendship.  As fate would have it, the father of this new friend, Steve Taylor, just happened to be a private investigator. As Taylor and Max started to converse, Taylor made a promise to Max that he would help him find his sister.

Four days later, Max received his first break in over a decade of searching.  Taylor had found an address for a “Donna Martin” in New Jersey.  After digging a little deeper, Taylor found several phone numbers and proceeded to narrow it down until he finally reached Donna by phone.   As soon as Taylor found out the phone number for Donna, he contacted Max with her contact information.  Today, the two siblings are thankful to have each other back in their lives. And it just goes to prove that sometimes, even though  someone may be “out of sight”, it doesn’t necessarily mean that they are “out of mind”….[source]

For more information about hiring a private investigator for a criminal investigation, contact Cat’s Eye P.I. today at 919.878.9988.