Resurrection 40Posted: November 21, 2016
This is a chapter of the book I am writing for NaNoWriMo. If you want to read it from the start, click here for the chapter index.
Bob Phillips was Jack Thornton’s private detective, on his payroll for $2,000 dollars a week plus expenses. Most of the work Bob did was simple. He would skip trace people Jack’s clients needed to find, drive to a courthouse to retrieve a particular record, follow a possibly errant spouse to a rendezvous.
He also handled some of the more seedy aspects of Jack’s practice.
On a regular basis, Jack needed something done that he couldn’t be involved with. Extortion, intimidation, assault, burglary and even murder. He was good at his job.
Bob had grown up poor in Lexington and had a criminal past, though no felonies.
They had met when a judge decided to make a point about the public defender’s office. The judge felt the PDs were far overworked, and started forcing high-end attorneys to pick up the slack. Jack was his prime target.
Jack was assigned to Bob’s B&E case. Jack made one call to the DA and got him to take a plea to a misdemeanor criminal mischief. Bob got one year of probation. Aside from that one conviction, Jack made sure Bob’s record remained spotless.
When Jack met Bob, he immediately recognized the usefulness of having someone on his payroll with those kinds of connections. He paid for Bob to get his PI license and put him to work.
It took Bob two weeks to gather all the information about Romona and the twins. It wasn’t hard, really. It was easy for him to find out what women had a baby in January 1975 at the hospitals around Inez. There were 18. He then checked those records to see if a father was listed and if that father was Richard Langford on the birth records.
Of the 18 births, none listed Richard Langford as the father, six listed no father. Of the six, two were women who were 16 at the time of birth. Of those two, one listed the mother’s race as hispanic. That left one, Romona Farmer. Twin baby boys.
Bob had done this enough to realize the mother could have claimed someone else was the father, it happens quite a bit. A woman doesn’t want to let her husband know she was cheating, or doesn’t want the child to come into the world a bastard. Sometimes a “white knight” will come in to “save” the pregnant girl and they both agree to list him as the father. In Bob’s experience checking paternity for Jack’s clients, the wrong father is listed about 20% of the time.
He started with Romona Farmer to see where it took him. Farmer had twin boys on January 22, 1975. She gave one up for adoption through the Baptist Church Homes of Kentucky and one she kept, naming him “Richard Forrest Farmer.”
Romona Farmer was easy to find. Her driver’s license and voter registration gave her address as 104 Cabin Place, Apt 300. It was government housing. Her phone was (606)555-8220. Date of birth May 13, 1959. A little more digging got him her Social.
Next he checked on Richard Farmer. No voter registration, but he did have a driver’s license. Listed his address as 1136 Canadatown Rd, Inez. He tried to find a phone, but like many people in rural Kentucky, he used burner phones and none he could find were still active.
Next he had to find out what happened to the other kid.
Google offers many free services. People are familiar with search, of course and gmail. They also offer a free phone service. Google Voice allows you to set up a phone number for almost any area code in the US. You simply create a Gmail account, add Google Voice and choose the area code and number you want to have. Then you tie it to a throwaway phone you can get at any gas station for a few bucks and you have all you need. You don’t even have to make calls from the burner, you can use any cell phone through an app or any computer with a microphone.
Bob had a number of these accounts. He would use them when he needed to “front” and pretend he was someone else. In this case, he needed to pretend he worked for the Kentucky Bureau for Unclaimed Funds. He pulled out his computer, looked up the number for the Kentucky Baptist Children’s Home main number, then got out his phone, fired up the Google Voice app and logged in.
For today, he was Bob Kennedy. It was the alias he always used when posing as a government official. It was a 502 area code number, the area code for Frankfort, Kentucky, the Commonwealth’s capitol.
“Baptist Homes, may I help you?” the cheery receptionist answered.
“Yes, I’m calling from Frankfort. May I speak to someone in your records department please?” Bob “Kennedy” asked.
“One moment please.” The phone went to music for a moment then began ringing again.
“Yes, this is Bob Kennedy, I work in Unclaimed Funds in Frankfort,” in Kentucky it was understood that saying “in Frankfort” implied he was a government employee.
“Yes sir, Mr. Kennedy, how may I assist you?” The man on the other end of the line asked.
“You can call me ‘Bob’,” it’s always better to make it casual. “I didn’t get your name.”
“Sure Bob, my name’s Mark. How can I help you today?”
“We had a woman die and leave quite a large estate. She gave a baby up for adoption through you all in 1975. Can you give me any information on the family that adopted the child or the name?”
“Do you have the name of the mother and her date of birth?”
“Sure, Mark. The mother’s name is Romona Farmer and her date of birth is May 13, 1959.”
“Just a second and let me see what’s in our system.” replied Mark.
“I can confirm we have records pertaining to that name and date of birth. I’ll need you to send me an official, signed request from your office to receive those records, along with her death certificate. You can send over fax or postal mail.”
“Great,” Bob had been prepared for this. “I can fax, we want to find this person quickly, it’s a lot of money. Can I send them via email attachment instead?”
“Actually, that’s even easier. I’ll give you my direct email and you can send them directly to me. Ready?” Bob acknowledged he was, and took down Mark’s email.
“You’ll have them in five minutes.” Bob said, disconnecting.
The digital age made Bob’s job so much easier. Before digital documents became common, people expected not just a copy of a death certificate or official letter, they required one with an official embossed seal from a county clerk.
With the move to digital, most organizations initially required their workers to independently verify any digital document. If they got a digital death certificate, for instance, they were required to phone the county clerk’s office wherever it was issued and get verbal verification the document was valid.
But people are lazy. Over time the verification calls became fewer and fewer. Now, they were rare.
On his computer Bob had a variety of “official” looking documents. Marriage licenses, death certificates, fake pay stubs. Official letterhead for Kentucky, Ohio, Tennessee, West Virginia. He could create a realistic looking government document in just a few minutes. He called up Commonwealth of Kentucky letterhead for the Bureau and filled in the request, even inserting the actual signature of the director. He did the same with a Martin County Kentucky death certificate.
He attached them in an email to Mark and hit send.
Within an hour he had the details.
He picked up his phone and called Jack’s office.
“Thornton Law Office, Mary speaking, how can I assist you today?”
“Mary, this is Bob. Is Jack available?”
“Hello, Bob,” Mary liked Bob. He was a happy, joyful guy. Not much to look at, but he brightened her day.”I’ll see if he’s available. Please hold.”
“Mr. Thornton, Bob Phillips on line two. Would you like to take the call?” Mary asked.
“Yes, Mary, put him through.”
“Hello Bob, you have anything for me?” Asked Jack.
“Yeah Jack, I found the mother…” started Bob.
“Wait, not on the phone, get back here to Lexington and you can give me the details in person. I don’t want to do this over the phone.”