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The Kidnapped Grandchildren

by Jake Ross

Jake Ross is the president of the Jake Ross Detective Agency (P.O. Box 1025, Daytona Beach, Florida  32015, phone 386-258-8709.) The following is a true case, although the names of the individuals involved have been changed to protect their identity.

     The basics are the same, whatever type of investigation you're assigned to handle. You start with a client who suspects that a civil or criminal offense has been committed.  Sometimes they know that an offense has occurred and they need the evidence.  You conclude your case by proving that someone is either guilty or innocent. 
     Daytona Beach is not a big city, with a population of about 65,000. It's known f or the beautiful beach (World's Most Famous).  Automobile racing is very popular in Daytona Bach. Motorcycles also.   Daytona Beach is only about 65 miles from Disney World.  There are fine motels, restaurants and beautiful shopping malls.  I opened my detective agency in 1975, and I've got a pretty good track record being successful finishing cases.
     My day usually starts with a telephone call.   Some jealous girlfriend wants her lover checked out before she makes up her mind to marry him.  A husband wants his wife followed for the purpose of taking pictures of her and her suspected boyfriend.  Some attorney calling on a suspicious insurance claim, needing surveillance and movie of the subject performing activities which he couldn't do.   Or a missing person's case, or several other types which I'm usually prepared to handle.  This is my livelihood, so I have no choice.
     This particular case started with a phone call on a Sunday morning. I was relaxing at home when my answering service called me, requesting that I call Margaret Wilson. I called and identified

myself.  Her voice was very hoarse and, after she explained her situation, I could understand why. She had been crying since Friday after receiving information that her two grandchildren had been kidnapped from school.
     The boy was seven years old and the girl was four. I met my client at my office and she rehearsed her story over and over again until I got it down pat.  Her grandchildren, Ricky Flanders, and Mildred Flanders, had been awarded to Miss Wilson through a court order after the court ruled that the mother of the children was incompetent and unfit to mother the children.  The mother would give the kids drugs, leave them home alone and hardly fed them.   She once broke the leg of the four-year-old.  But she claimed she loved her children. 
     It looked to me as if the first thing I would need to do was gather as much information as possible on the mother of the children.  The next thing I did was visit the school the kids attended and from which they were kidnapped.  I learned from the school that the description of the person who kidnapped the children fit the mother's.  The mother was widely known throughout the community for her frequent nightclub visits.  I checked the clubs and found out that she hadn't been seen in several days.
     Miss Delois Flanders was a divorcee residing in an apartment- housing complex.  Surveillance was placed on her residence and revealed that she was not at home.  Something told me that Miss Flanders was hiding out or had left town.  She didn't have transportation, and if she were hiding out, who would she be with?
    I later found out that she had a boyfriend, and that he drove a light yellow Ford with a Florida license. His name was Frederick Lane, and we ran a
background check on him. I found out that Mr. Lane was gainfully employed and suddenly quit on Friday.  I interviewed his immediate supervisor who praised Fred for being a loyal and dedicated worker,  he couldn't  understand why Fred quit so suddenly.  When Fred drove off from the job, a female was in the front seat and two kids were in the back seat. I also ascertained that the back seat contained several suitcases, a television and other items. This indicated that they were leaving town, but to where?
     I gave my business card to the personnel manager and asked him to call me if anyone contacted them for a job reference on Mr. Lane?  At this point I knew whom the children were with, but where did they go? I was afraid for the children's safety and welfare.
     Every possible family relative of the mother was contacted and put on alert. They were told who to contact if Delois Flanders appeared with the children, but no light had been thrown on the whereabouts of the victims. 
     I knew that they somewhere with the incompetent mother who had harmed them in the past and a boyfriend whom nobody seemed to know anything about.  Then about a week after I had contacted Mr. Lane's place of employment, the telephone rang.  It was the personnel manager from Mr. Lane's former employer.  It was good news.  He had just received correspondence from a company in Savannah, Georgia requesting a job reference on Mr. Lane. Lane had already landed a job, doing the same type of work that he didn't in Florida.  This was on a Thursday afternoon about 1:30 p.m.  Thirty minutes later I was on the highway en route to Georgia.  I arrived in Savannah at 6:15 p.m. I got there fast.

P.I. Magazine        Spring, 1994 next page
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