A Rookie’s Last Lesson

It’s 2 AM as I rolled the blacked out patrol car down the alley and parked. A crisp fog hung in the air and silver globes surrounded the streetlights. This morning was as damp and dark as it had ever been. The time had come for this Last Lesson with my rookie.

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This Recruit Deputy had ridden under my wing for two months after months with other Field Training Officers. He had passed all the tests and was as close to being a full grown Police Officer as I could make him. Tomorrow I would set him free – He would be on solo patrol for the first time in his life.

I had taught him how to walk into a room with command presence – where everyone instantly knew who was in charge. I taught him how to speak with the voice of ten men, filled with brimstone and determination. How to look into a man’s eyes. Lessons in how to shoot, how to stand, what to watch.

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Lessons in cover and concealment, law and order, threats and dangers.

I taught him that we are always Men of Honor – we don’t lie – That the People give us the power to arrest and kill them – we, at the very least, owe them an obligation of Truth.

I sat on the fender of the cruiser and lit a cigarette as the recruit stood nearby.

I begin, “Cub pay attention because this will be one of the most important lessons I can offer you. We don’t Quit – We fight through our fear and pain. Sometimes you may not see a clear path to victory but know you cannot lose. Enter every battle with a Warrior’s Mind.”

A car turns down the alley away from us.

I continue, “You have to swear an Oath to me right now. If the worst should happen, should your heart be blasted out the back of your chest you still have about 4 seconds of life left. Kill the mother fucker that killed you. Draw your gun, fight to your end, never quit.” I take a long draw on my Marlboro as I collect my next thought.

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“We all die alone unless we die together.”

The young Brother then swore his Oath to me. We hugged in the fog, in the dark, in the honor of his promise.

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PS: I have been reminded to remind you that I write in the voice of who I was on that day. I am a time traveler but I can only travel back into my own time…

© 2017, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

It’s just a matter of Time…

I am a Man who has been to the Mountain Top and I’m forever changed by what happened there. I lived wild in the Deserts and Mountains of Utah and Nevada, Texas, New Mexico and Colorado. Rivers, streams, seeps, weeps and springs have wet my tongue. Moons, Suns, Planets and Galaxies have lit my way as I followed the skinny trail.

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I’m trying to understand what changed me in Wild Places. What is it that heals and restores me at the foot of a mountain, in the high meadows and under a shining Moon – To dance as a child, naked and unafraid?

I have searched my mind and the Wild Places of my past for answers to this question. I have driven thousands of miles to my old camps – To stir through the ashes of my fires – To sleep on the same Earth – What caused this change in me?

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This is one thing I’ve noticed.

In my wanderings I search out Time Monuments – Places where I witness the face of time, undeniable and obvious to all who care to look. Places of bent rock and upthrust which I can measure my own existence against – spoken in a language of gray stone and erosion. In these places I glimpse the Eons.

In Earth’s strata I imagine my place, my grain of sand existence. In the face of time my Ego is stripped from me. It’s not possible to stand with Time Monuments and be filled with boastful pride. Rather I am often knocked to my knees, face to the sky as tears streak my cheeks. I am Awe struck and firmly in the Place I should be. I feel my roots to the center of the Earth and my connection to the Sky above. The Animal within me Howls.

Healing can begin when the Ego is diminished

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I have an ability to sense emotions in Others. This both served me and damaged me during my Law Enforcement career. To be able to smell Fear and see a lie saved me many times. But then to knock on a door in the dark night – To tell parents their child would never be coming home crushed me night after night and in my sleep. Emotion sticks to me.

To be in Solitude and in Wild Places I can be sure all the emotions I experience are genuinely mine. To trust in Self – This is why I search out wildness – These places are my Church, my retreat, my Sanctuary.

This is to live in the Truth of Self – A place to discover Self Love.

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I am Michael – I am the smooth stone at the foot of a Mountain asking how did you change me – I am the ripple on a waterfall pool asking from where did I come – I have always been a part of this – I am Michael

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© 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

The Price We Pay

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“I am what they trained me to be. I am what they wanted me to be.”

As I looked up I see my PTSD doc had tears in her eyes. I had just finished telling her of one of my scars. She asked for it so I told her what it is like to hold a dead child in your hands and curse the sky.

“Michael do you know what it means to be in a state of Hyper-arousal or Hyper- vigilance?”

“You mean me having my head on a swivel? I was trained to be a human recorder. To see which hand the gun is in, to witness the wounds, to remember everything and be able to testify to the Truth of it all later. I put that shit in my long term memory banks. The military calls it Situational Awareness. I had to live in this state to survive in the World they asked me to bring Peace to. I haven’t found the “OFF” switch. I honed this skill that you now use to identify my PTSD. That’s pretty fucked up.”

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A long pause followed in which she offered no answer. Her question caused me to drifted into my past…

I was on patrol in the dark with another rookie at my side. This one wasn’t getting it. I had worked with him on his skills of observation for the past week. He had the eyes of a civilian and I wanted him to have animal eyes, to see everything. I decided to teach him a lesson. I waited for him to pick a car and make a traffic stop.

We approached the suspect vehicle in the customary manner, the rookie made contact with the driver and I covered him from the rear fender. I noted three occupants besides the driver. We retreat to the patrol car to run checks on the driver.

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The lesson begins…

“Rookie don’t even think of looking up. If you do I swear I’ll make you walk back to the station house. Do you understand me?”

A quiet “Yes Sir” comes out of the rookie.

“Let us imaging another scenario, I just got blasted in the chest by one of the passengers and I’m laying in the ditch with a sucking chest wound. Now let’s imagine that the suspect vehicle has fled the scene. You’re in the ditch with me holding my cigarette pack against my wound and you have your radio in the other hand. Let me hear your broadcast to get me help and to catch those that harmed me – GO!”

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The rookie fumbled – this is what he didn’t know. He had no idea where we were, the color or model of the car, the number of occupants, no part of the license plate. He was clueless.

“What are you gonna do rookie – I need an ambulance?”

“I’m gonna run up to that house and ask for their address.”

“That’s great but who is gonna keep pressure on my sucking chest wound? Are you gonna let me die?”

More stumbling by the rookie. I sensed the great dump of stress I had caused for him. His heart was racing as if these things had really happened.

“Rookie this is serious work we do. Get your head in the game or get out before you get someone killed.”

We kicked the stop without issuing any tickets.

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After this lesson this rookie did have his head on a swivel. He began to notice everything. He became what I wanted him to be and is still a very successful Police Officer.

I suddenly realized that maybe even now he was visiting his PTSD doc and telling them how he became hyper-vigilant and how he came to live in a state of hyper-arousal.

I felt a twang of guilt for having created another like me…

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© 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Trojan Horse Operation

Trojan Horse Operation – Ypsilanti Township – When I was Lion Strong

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What I’m about to tell you happened at the peak of the Blood and Crip gang war. Street corner crack cocaine trafficking had reached it’s Zenith and many corners were occupied by a crack cocaine dealer (in the open) and a gunman (hidden). Drug trafficking turf have been claimed and paid for in blood and gangs claimed ownership of their corners. Crack cocaine was the newest national epidemic and the zombies of the night moved among us, robbed us, killed us.

My Brothers and I fought them back in the dark while you slept.

This is the story of one operation.

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The bosses had decided on a new plan of attack, a Trojan horse operation. About 20 of us signed up for this overtime operation but to be honest I would have worked the detail for free. I loved this stuff – These assignments were always exciting, dangerous and unpredictable. We all met at Station #2 for a briefing but we all knew what we were in for. We were to be dropped into a “target rich environment” and expected to run down the rabbits.

We broke into partners for protection. Three partner crews were in marked patrol cars and assigned to the outer perimeter, two partner crews were in unmarked surveillance cars and assigned Scout responsibilities. I was one of the remaining ten, veterans of operations like these, Tucked in the Truck. We were the jump out crew and were to stay hidden until the time was right.

No one was to run off without cover and the buddy system assured that. Each of us was clad in armor and dangling flex cuffs hung from our ballistic vests. The time had come for a last press check of weapons, magazines, flashlights, handcuffs and a thumbs up to your partner.

As I mount up my adrenaline begins to build and my focus becomes more  acute. I felt more than human – I was a part of this team – we had plans – we had targets. Muscle memory flashes it’s bright light, I tingle with anticipation of the night. In the moment I know I love this. We were ready.

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We ten pack tightly side by side into the rear of a U-Haul moving truck. The floor was wooden and splintered as we tried to sit without stings. One of the surveillance units made a pass down Calder street and by our intended jump out location near the edge of a city park. “Be advised there are more than a dozens gang members on the corner and they seem twitchy – They gave us the stink eye,” the Scout advised.

The undercover officer begins to drive us and the truck to the park.

The bosses had decided to double roll the dice. Not only were 10 cops about to be air dropped on an active drug street corner but they wanted a cocaine buy to go with it. The Undercover officer was to drive up and buy crack and we would bail out after the deal went down.

One of the Cops in the back of the truck starts flashing his light against his newest piece of gear, a glow in the dark POLICE jacket. “What the fuck are you doing Bill” I ask. He says “I don’t want any of you fuckers shooting me in all the confusion were about to create.” I laughed but couldn’t argue with his logic.

Someone ripped a two note fart, more laughter and threats followed.

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“ONE MILE” the driver calls out.

The Undercover Officer begins to give a description of a possible suspect as the truck rolls to a stop “I can’t see his cover man” and then he went quiet. A hushed deadly silence overtook all of us in the rear of the truck. Any tiny movement or noise could endanger not only the Undercover Officer but the whole operation.

We wait and listen.

U/C: Hey Gee you straight?

Dope Man: Yea Cuz what you need?

U/C: How about two twenties?

Dope Man: Let me see the cash.

20 seconds pass…

U/C: Good deal (Our signal to bail and catch whatever ran)

The rear door of the moving truck flies open and all of us hit the ground at once. I was instantly reminded of some wild rodeo except made for Cops. One of my Brothers let go with a war cry at the top of his lungs.

I recognized a half a dozen gang members when I jumped from the truck. All I could see were assholes and elbows as they ran towards the park entrance. Many of them were already career criminals and If they were caught they were looking at decades in prison.

The work begins…

The U/C had giving a good description of the crack cocaine dealer and I had him in my sights from the time my feet hit the ground. I ran after him into the darkness – he was my single target – my partner with me. This thug was ours, we cut him from the pack hoping someone else had the hidden gunman – this thug’s cover.

I trusted my Pack – I trusted my partner – I trusted my skill – I trusted my Heart

The calm clear eyed animal within me chased down this Thug. All sounds stopped as I closed the distance and slammed him to the ground. After a short struggle the cuffs were on. He was a stunned animal, he was my prey.

I hear my own heartbeats first as I re-entered the World.

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We take the crack dealer back up to one of the waiting marked patrol units which now flooded the area. From one of the cars I could hear the theme song from the Cops show playing. “Bad boys bad boys what you gonna do, what you gonna do when they come for you.” Most of  the other Thugs were captured and a couple of stolen handguns were recovered. I notice a neighbor give us a thumbs up from behind his curtains. I appreciate the intensity of my life.

It was a good night. A lot of thugs went to jail and no Cops got hurt and I made overtime. What more do you want?

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© 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

A Meeting of the Mind

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Have you ever had that internal conversation that goes something like this:

“Michael, why did you do that or – Michael why didn’t you anticipate that?”

I have a question. Who is in there with us? Who do we speak to in our Mind? I decided to think about it.

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I imagine my Mind as an infinite dark place. Three low ground fires sit in a triangular space. Between the fires three torch lights illuminate the darkness from pike poles, casting shadows but ample light. In the center is a round table and six heavy chairs. A comfortable place for thinking without distraction. A place for honest discussions.

I next began to imagine who sits at the round table of my Mind. Who make up the parts of Me?

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The Warrior/Protector:

I was raised to be this, the oldest Son. More than once my life has been threatened and I’ve had to fight for it. I’m hard to kill.

It is better to be a Warrior in a garden than a Gardner in a war.

The Warrior sees things only in Black and White – He seeks Respect and Honor.

The Romantic:

The Romantic is where my Hope, Dreams and Passion reside. He is awash with the color of Women and loves them all, or tries to. The writer of love letters, the artist. He is the one that types the words you read.

The Romantic can only sees the Best in everything and everybody – Always hopeful but easily wounded.

The Male Animal:

Part of me is a strong male animal chained to the ground. When unchained women love him and men fear him. I believe this is the rarest part of Me and my most celebrated. I know that someday he will be the first to die, curled in the corner, still. But today, on this day, I rejoice…

Animal doesn’t communicate in words, he is scent driven and cannot be reasoned with. He doesn’t obey orders.

The Child:

This is where my enthusiasm springs from, the child within me. Unashamed, inquisitive, open. When I lay on the ground and stare at clouds the child prodded me to do so. Some have said I seem so alive – they witnessed the child at play. He is the Flyer of kites.

The child thinks like a child.

The Dark Ones:

The ones I still search for and don’t know where to look.

The Thinker/Realist:

Everything is measured the same way by the Thinker. From Gods to used cars it all goes through a scientific way of thinking. Testable, repeatable, demonstrable and observable are always requirements. He has full veto power over whatever shit the others collectively come up with. Sometimes the Romantic will call on Animal and the Protector for support at the table but the Thinker always has override authority.

The Thinker sees things in bright light, real and exposed – often harsh – painful.

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A Meeting of the Mind:

They gather again at the table of decisions. The Universe has placed another fork in the road for our consideration.

The Thinker speaks first…

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© 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

The Red Pill

Today I seek relationship advice from any who would care to comment but especially the women.

Part of the demise of my last long-term relationship was this…

She started to explore “Red Pill Philosophy” and it became a central part of many of our discussions. The philosophy boils down to this. Take the Red Pill and then you will know the truth, women are evolutionary animals and are always looking to “trade up” or better described are in a constant state of hypergamy. Imagine a troop of baboons, the females constantly watch the Alpha for any perceived weakness and if they see any they are likely to bolt for the next suitor. It is a part of the natural consequence of animal relationships and attraction.

With this way of thinking my previous “Mate” began to discourage me from ever showing any signs of weakness. I had to walk as an Alpha Male and nothing else. It was all I could be in her presence, never to wince, never to acknowledge pain…

I tried to be this but I failed.

My Question: Is this really what women want? A man without feelings? Is a man being an Alpha male enough for you? I think this sucks for me because it’s not what I want. I want so much more than this.

I’m very interested in your thoughts because I’m considering changing the way I interact with women for the rest of my life. I am trying to digest this life lesson but I’m conflicted.

To be hard and flinty, is this the way to a better Me?

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© 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

The Execution of Mary Hulbert

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The Circuit Court Judge would say that this was the most heinous” crime in his 30 years of judicial experience.

The snow was sideways on that day, the Sun invisible to me. The wind screamed of horror and places not to be. Terror had claimed another victim, a child of just thirteen.

I was the newest Detective having been promoted just a couple of months earlier to work minor crimes. My caseload consisted of burglaries, larcenies, check cases, pawn shop investigations and the like. All of the Detectives worked out of the main station. I was surrounded by the Salty Dogs and Sperm Whales of the department. Grayed, grizzled and often grumpy most of them had worked major cases for decades. I had earned my way into the Detective Bureau but I was a cub among bears.

Dispatch called upstairs and told the Sergeant a child’s body had been found in a wooded area by a couple of rabbit hunters. One of the hunters would say, “In the thickets, I saw something, looked whitish. The closer I got, the more it looked like a body. It looked like someone dressed up a dummy, maybe trying to scare us.” At first I thought it was a mannequin, “I knew a mannequin didn’t have a belly button. The body was frozen and waxy looking with snow on the eyes. I took my gun and touched her side thinking to hear the knock of plastic, I didn’t. Then I touched her fingers and they bent back.””

He tried to stay with the body but got frightened and ran after his buddy and towards his car. They drove to a nearby preschool and called the Sheriff’s office.

A scramble to find the Truth begins.

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The Sergeant tells me to stay put and to start checking missing person(s) reports as everyone else bolts for the door. All of the Detectives descended on the crime scene which was an open area away from the city, some might call it the beginning of the country.” Large blocks of trees crossed by farmer’s fields, everything bordered by dirt roads in one mile squares, 640 acres between. Majestic oak trees stood between fence and furrow, with field stones cleared over a hundred years.

It didn’t take long to discover an adjoining jurisdiction had a report of a missing 13 year old girl and the description matched what the Detectives were calling in from the scene. The victim had suffered multiple wounds to her body and we were all but certain it was Mary. The clothing and physical description matched. The pieces began to fit.

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Mary Ann Hulbert was last seen with Steven Stamper and Christopher Machacek, both 16 years of age. A neighbor drove Mary to the entrance of the trailer park where Stamper and Machacek were waiting for her. Mary had confided to the neighbor that she thought she was pregnant by Machacek and she was going to talk to him about it. She fiddled nervously with a screwdriver in her pocket and said she had it “just to make sure” she didn’t get hurt, it was her protection. The neighbor watched Mary get in the Bronco with Stamper and Machacek and ride into her Nightmare, never to be seen alive again.

I knew Stamper and Machacek from my time in uniform patrol or street work. I’d contacted them often on traffic stops and during minor criminal investigations. I considered them low-level punks with attitudes. I knew where everybody lived and who they associated with, I knew their Grandmothers and neighbors. I relayed what I’d discovered and knew to the Detective Sergeant.

Next the principal Detective, the Sergeant and I responded to the homes of Stamper and Machacek. We told them we were investigating the disappearance of Mary and asked for their assistance in finding her and if they would come down to the Station. They both agreed and traveled to the station in their cars with family members. At this point Stamper and Machacek were considered witnesses. When they moved from witness to suspect would become a key legal issue and nearly cost us the case.

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Interviews

One of the reasons I was promoted to Detective was my ability to obtain confessions during the interview process. I worked hard to learn effective interview techniques and obtained many confessions.

Here is quick rookie lesson. When I went to someone’s house to interview them as a suspect I would look for something to connect to them with. If I saw bowling trophies on the mantle I would ask, “Did you ever bowl a 300?”” If there was an old beat up car in the backyard I’d ask, ““Man is that a 57′ – I wish I could find a sweet ride like that.”” The problem with this is you have to know something about what you’re talking about. If I asked the bowler if he ever bowled a 400 game he would think me an idiot, rightfully so. Take time to make yourself human before asking the hard questions. Shake their hand and look them in the eye. Call the Doctor by his first name, call the janitor “Sir”.”

Lesson over, back to the past.

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I don’t know what the Sergeant was thinking but he assigned me to interview Stamper and Machacek with the senior Detective. Maybe he saw it as a training opportunity, maybe it was because I was good at getting to the Truth. For whatever reason I was thrust into the biggest case of my career, the weight of it nearly crushed me. A Life was lost, others changed, never the same.

Stamper and Machacek were interviewed separately and in the presence of their legal guardians. All of their statements were tape recorded.

They both told a story of picking Mary up and later dropping her off near her school. There were enough inconsistencies in the telling that the hairs on my neck began to stand. Their main story was rock solid but the little details were screwed up. They both gave the exact location where Mary had been dropped off but when I asked which way she walked away one said she went left, the other said right. When I asked where she sat in the Bronco –one said the front the other said the back. Slowly they were moving from witnesses to suspects but they stuck to their lie.

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At some point the senior Detective made a major mistake, which he would compound later. He said to Machacek, “There is no way I can let you go home tonight”.” Defense Attorneys would argue this statement was an indication Machacek was under arrest and should have been immediately transported to the juvenile detention center which was required by Michigan Law.

We weren’t getting any closer to the Truth and I decided to gamble. I told Machacek that Stamper was at the station and being questioned by other Detectives and watched the blood drain from his face. Stamper was the weaker of the two and Machacek knew he could fold at any moment. I told him their stories better match up and they would be compared to find the Truth. The artery on the side on his neck bulged.

Machacek requested a tape recorder saying he was going to tell us what happened to Mary. I think he caved in to panic and decided to tell his lies first. He was again advised of his Miranda Rights.

Machacek said that he and Stamper drove Mary to the wooded area.”We went back in the field and Stamper told her to take off her clothes, and so she was fighting for a little while and then Stamper hit her so she took off her clothes and he put a blindfold on her.”” He said Stamper shot Mary six or seven times with a .22 caliber rifle and then reloaded. Mary tried to run away and that was when Stamper shot her dead. “She was making noises and stuff and I was tripping out”,” Machacek ended by saying he had helped Stamper conceal Mary’s body by dragging her by the feet into some nearby bushes. On the way home Stamper said, “I never killed nobody before”.” “”He was praying and stuff saying– I hope God forgives me””, Machacek said. They drove to Stamper’s house where they cleaned the Bronco and the rifles. An agreement was made to tell the lie about dropping Mary off at the entrance to her school if anyone asked. Next they fixed themselves a meal of hoagie sandwiches and root beer floats and said in front of witnesses, “We should wash our hands after what we just did.””

The following day, New Year’s Eve, they partied with friends.

One down.

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I entered the interview room where Stamper and his legal guardian were. I advised him of his Miranda Rights and he indicated he understood them.

““Bad news Steve, Chris just gave you up on a taped statement. He said that you are the one that shot Mary”.” I sat the black leather cassette tape player between us. I savored the moment, the tension, I turned over four kings – I played part of the tape. Stamper told me to “load a fresh tape”” because he was going to tell his side of the story.

Perfect.

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Stamper’s statement unfolded with greater detail that Machacek’s.

Mary called Machacek and told him she was pregnant and that he was the father. Stamper and Machacek drove to Mary’s neighborhood to pick her up. On the way they stopped by Stamper’s house and picked up two .22 caliber rifles and ammunition. One of the rifles was a recent Christmas gift from his grandmother. They drove to the front of Mary’s trailer park where she had agreed to meet them.

Stamper said they did not want to kill Mary but were trying to induce a miscarriage. Their plan was to shoot guns at her and scare her enough to cause a miscarriage. He drove her to the isolated wooded area north of Ypsilanti and not too far from her home.

Once there Machacek told Mary to strip off her clothes while they were all still in the Bronco. “You heard them, take them off”” Stamper told Mary. ““Then she was getting lippy with Chris. I told her to shut up. She was sitting there with a screwdriver in her hand, playing around. I said – Why don’t you quit playing around and pointed my finger at her. She slapped my finger. I slapped her.””

Stamper said he blindfolded Mary with an ACE bandage and, “She was laughing the whole time, thinking it was all just a joke”, he said.

She was told to get out of the Bronco, wearing only her bra and panties. She stood with her back against the tree as they told her, clutching a stuffed toy dog to her chest she had picked up when getting out of the Bronco. Mary said her fear was they would leave her alone in the field, a worse fear was yet to be realized. She began to cry out her last moments of life.

Stamper said Machacek “snapped” and fired about 20 rounds at Mary.” Stamper could hear Mary moaning after the first burst of fire. He asked Machacek “What are you doing?”” Machacek then fired the fatal bullet. Stamper said “Shes dead”.” He (Machacek) said “”I know she is dead”” it really didn’t seem to bother him”. Stamper said he took his hat off and “asked the Lord’s forgiveness for this”. Stamper denied ever firing his gun at Mary and said he only fired into the ground at Machacek’s insistence. Afterwards he helped Machacek hide Mary’s body under a bush and they drove back to his house.

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Autopsy

I met Mary for the first and last time the following day. She was on the autopsy table, more child than girl, a porcelain doll –- lifeless and still – just 13 years old. To see her reminded me of a gangster’s death, her body riddled with bullet holes. She had been shot from the front and back, in her left collar-bone, left shoulder, chest, armpit, navel and hip bone. One deformed bullet remained in her body and the rest were through and through shots. I touched my body in the same places as her wounds and try to imagine the pain, the fear, the end. I had to know what happened, it was my sworn duty.

The pathologist testified Mary could have survived every wound with the exception of one, The fatal bullet that passed through her side and into her heart and lungs.

She wore a small gold ring with a heart-shaped stone on her tiny finger. This would be something her mother could clutch to her chest during the dark nights to come. Something to kiss, something to hold, something to cry over. A silent witness to a life taken, a testament to innocence stolen, a memory of Mary.

As I touched Mary’s hand I made a promise to her. “Mary, I will do my best to find Justice for you and hold those that did this responsible.” I spoke the words into the still air over her body.

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Court

Seems like this would be a fairly straight forward case, right? WRONG, it was FUBAR from the beginning.

The senior Detective, the one assigned the case, compounded the “There is no way I can let you go home tonight”” statement to Machacek by telling the person responsible for transcribing the tape to leave that part out. A small mistake became a potential attempted conspiracy to obstruct Justice. The Sheriff relieved him of his investigative duties and demoted him to civilian. This would be his last criminal investigation.

At that time Michigan Law required a petition before a Juvenile Court Judge to obtain permission to try a juvenile as an adult. The senior Detective was having his Miranda Rights read to him in the Judge’s chambers before he could testify. He was under threat of criminal charges because of things he had said and done. The Detective Sergeant moved into the primary or lead investigator seat, sitting next to the Prosecutor. There was only one problem with that is he didn’t know shit about the confessions, the critical part of this case.

The time line and details of the unfolding investigation had to come through my testimony. When and how Stamper and Machacek moved from witness to suspect became important, especially in light of the “Ain’t nobody going home” statement.”

A Walker hearing was scheduled before a Juvenile Court Judge. This would be an evidentiary hearing to determine if the defendant’s statements were voluntary. If Machacek and Stamper’s statements were thrown out the whole case could be lost under the Fruit of the Poisonous Tree doctrine (even though everybody knew they were guilty). They knew and revealed things only the killer(s) could know.

Fruit of the Poison Tree Doctrine

This doctrine holds that evidence gathered with the assistance of illegally obtained information must be excluded from trial. Thus, if an illegal interrogation leads to the discovery of physical evidence, both the interrogation and the physical evidence may be excluded, the interrogation because of the exclusionary rule, and the physical evidence because it is the fruit of the illegal interrogation.

This is the ultimate Cop penalty, the black flag and is used to punish bad Cop behavior. The pressure was on and I felt it like no other time in my career. There was a real possibility these cold-blooded killers could walk. I had to get my testimony right. I carried case files everywhere and memorized timelines, the when and where, the evidence, who said what. I paced the floor many sleepless nights anticipating questions the team of defense attorneys might ask the next morning.

The hearing before Judge Woods lasted for 7 weeks (not a typo – –7 fucking weeks of testimony – – a State record) and I testified for days on end. How many ways can the same questions be asked? My own testimony was thousands of pages long and the Court hired an extra person just to keep up with transcribing the testimony.

In the end, and with a stinging rebuke of the Senior Detective’s conduct, the cases against Machacek and Stamper were bound over to Circuit Court for trial. The Judge agreed that these juvenile defendants should be tried as adults and said they were “beyond rehabilitation” in the Juvenile Justice system.” She allowed Stamper’s statement to stand as evidence and threw out Machacek’s. The case moved forward.

Once in Circuit Court the same questions and legal arguments had to be answered. The voluntary nature of the statements was tested. Over and over I was questioned about when Stamper and Machacek were first considered suspects. All of this had to be answered before the real evidence could be presented. The guns and bullets, shell casings, photos of wounds and all the rest. The Circuit Court Judge allowed back in to evidence Machacek’s statement.

At the conclusion of the trials Machacek was found guilt of Murder in the First Degree and Stamper was found guilty of Murder in the Second Degree.

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Sentencing

In October of 1988, nearly 2 years after the murder of Mary, they were both sentenced. Michigan doesn’t have a death penalty and Machacek’s First Degree Murder conviction resulted in a mandatory life sentence without any possibility of parole. That’s Life, all day long Life, no getting out of prison Life. Stamper received a Life sentence with an eligibility for parole. Both were 18 years of age when sentenced.

United States Supreme Court Decision

In 2012 the US Supreme Court ruled that laws requiring youths convicted of murder to be sentenced to die in prison violate the Eighth Amendment’s ban on cruel and unusual punishment.

“It is a great tragedy when a juvenile commits murder most of all for the innocent victims,” Chief Justice Roberts wrote. But also for the murderer, whose life has gone so wrong so early. And for society as well, which has lost one or more of its members to deliberate violence, and must harshly punish another.””

I disagree with Chief Justice Roberts.

This was one of the most cold-blooded, cruel acts I ever investigated. Stamper and Machacek conspired in the cold light of day to murder Mary. They collected the weapons and picked the place of her execution. They formed a firing squad and killed Mary to save themselves, that was their plan, to cover their asses.

I was in that interview room and carefully listened to the words of these killers. I believe the Truth lies between the statements and what was not said. Where half-truths dance with absolute lies a thread can be found. What follows is my considered opinion of what happened to Mary in her last moments of life.

In the woods Mary knew she was in danger and she fought for her life. She pulled out her weapon, the screwdriver, only to be disarmed by Stamper. They slapped her and forced her to strip naked for their amusement. They tortured her, they dehumanized her, they filled her with terror. Together they lead her to her place of death. They sentenced her to death by firing squad and carried out her execution, a cruel and lingering death filled with fear, agony and pain. I believe Machacek shot Mary and that Stamper did fire once into the ground, right through Mary’s side and into her heart. I wonder if he felt good for putting her out of her misery? He stood over her dead body and asked for forgiveness, for what?

I don’t believe Mary was laughing.

Stamper and Machacek should die in prison and I will do everything within my power to make that so.

Even now, I prepare for the day when either come up for parole. I gather old reports, news articles, talk to partners of my past. I stay in contact with Mary’s Mother. I twist bone and pick scab – I open another clay jar. I try to remember it all. I will be ready.

I made a promise…

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© 2015 – 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Warrior Love

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I’m single again, for the 21st time, and I think it’s all the fault of what I experienced in my past. Let me speak of why.

We’ve all been told at some point in our lives, “I’ve got your back” by someone who was important to us. I lived a life where this was a very real thing and not just words. I experienced what it meant for someone to “Have my back” more than once and sometimes when lives depended on the outcome.

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Eight of us gather in the darkness planning our raid. To bust down another door – to yell out orders and force submission – to serve a Search Warrant and do our job – this is why we get paid the big bucks but to tell the truth I’d have done it for free. Decisions were made about where to take the injured, just in case. A well choreographed dance was about to take place. Surprise and threatened violence waits on both sides of the crack house door.

“A block out” the driver yells out. Time to focus, to see everything, to have the eyes of a hawk. Time to be brave, to lose the sense of self and feel part of the team. Time to think of nothing but what is about to happen. Time to control the chaos that we are about to create.

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Someone slides the van door open while we travel down the dark street. A blast of frozen air slaps my face into further awareness. I am alive and ready for what’s to come. Sometimes having PTSD is a good thing and in moments like this I was calm and ready. The Fight or Flight response was built into me and I was ready for this fight. I had been here before, many times. For some reason unknown to me the more dangerous and desperate things became the calmer I was able to be, a reversed response. This served me well throughout my Law Enforcement career.

This was a possible bad one. The informant who set up the deal, by buying cocaine from one of the Perps, knew little other than, “These were some bad motherfuckers outta Detroit and everybody’s gotta gun, maybe a AK-47 too.” The informant didn’t know the layout of the house or where anybody might be when we entered.

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“Sheriff’s Department – Search Warrant – Open the Door!”

We fall in line behind the man with the ram who is about to destroy the door, everyone in their assigned place. My hand on the shoulder of my Brother in front of me. I Loved that moment of anticipation, commitment and bonding.

We were about to be forged in the fire once again.

The door and jamb is splintered and we enter with steely determination. I am one of the first through the door and begin my search for the bad guys. I find one and begin to take him to the floor for cuffing when the fight breaks out. I can still remember fighting this thug and looking up to see my Brother covering me, standing over me, gun in hand ordering the other thugs back.

In my life I’ve know what it means when someone has my back in a real way and I haven’t experienced it since I left Police work. I search for a woman that would love me like this and in the same moment know I’ll never find her…

Warrior Love

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© 2015 – 2016, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

The woman with a dead dog in her fridge

A New Category – Women

What I’m about to tell you happened many years ago and doesn’t have anything to do with Police work, PTSD or wild places. It’s just one story of many in my relationships with women and the beginning of my dating experience. I found myself divorced in southern Utah and decided to make the most of it.

I love Women.

Allow me to introduce the woman with a dead dog in her Fridge.

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I had finished a motorcycle ride through Zion National park and dropped into the local coffee bar to warm up before heading up the hill and home.

She sat with her back to the door as I entered. I first noticed her mane of thick blond hair and then her face. She was one of those women that would always be outwardly beautiful – a perfect mix of chin, nose and mouth. She was fit and trim and had a beautiful hard body.

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I recognized her as out of my league and walked past with a friendly nod and an “Evening Ma’am” as I paid the Barista for a cup and poured my own coffee. I felt her eyes on me and knew she had been watching me since I entered the joint. Sometimes people stare at me and I’m use to that, I’m 6 foot 2 inches tall and in full motorcycle riding gear I resemble something out of a Mad Max movie. My hair is sometimes crazy and I often don’t give a shit.

From across the room she asked, “Are you an Angel?” She was bold, which attracted me even more. I wouldn’t know until later that she really thought I was an Angel.

I turned and answered, “No, but my name is Michael.” I smiled, she smiled and invited me to her table. I sat with her and stared into the most incredible eyes I had ever seen. Every possible color seemed represented and screaming out for it’s own attention. I don’t remember all that we talked about but I pegged her as what I call a Magic Rock woman. She had unconventional beliefs in past lives and UFO’s.

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After my coffee was gone I scratched out my number on the back of a book of  matches and asked her to call me. She kissed me before I left and I thought that was a weird little page in my life book, intensely romantic. The ego boost was an electrical charge all it’s own. I smiled inside my helmet riding the dark road home.

The very next day she called and wanted to meet me at a different coffee shop. I was out riding my motorcycle again and was close to where she was. We met  – there was a gravity that pulled us together – we talked – time passed – or did it – I couldn’t tell – I was intoxicated by her – snuggled together under the Utah sun – her hands on me – her laughter filled my ears.

I escorted her to the restroom, off the courtyard.

I have a part of me that is animal, pure absolute animal, without language, chained to the ground.

When she was back I explained it to her this way. “I will never know if we have a possibility unless and until I sniff the nape of your neck.” She turned in that instant and offered me her throat, I felt her tremble. She then said we were past life lovers and was surprised I couldn’t remember all that had happened in our past. Before this coffee date was over she would tell me she already loved me.

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Later we had another date when she met me in the park and brought Pete her dog who looked exactly like Benji (the movie dog). He was cute, energetic and playful and I liked him from the beginning. The woman and I seemed to have a really intense connection but something was wrong. One sunny morning I was to find out what.

She invited me to her condo for breakfast. I arrived exactly on time bearing a gift of fruit preserves and a pocket full of condoms.

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She answered…

Over night she had suffered an emotional break and it was immediately apparent to me. She was naked from the waist down, only wearing a sweat stained T-shirt. Her eyes were smeared into a raccoon comedy of tears and mascara. Behind her in the living room I could see a haystack pile of her belongings, leather coats and pants, shirts and jewelry, wigs and photographs. She collapsed into my chest and sobbed and I held her in the doorway for nearly an hour.

I finally convinced her to come in with me, to just sit on the couch, to rest. She agreed and began to tell me a long and rather sad story of having been a Mormon trophy wife until age and gravity diminished her beauty enough for her husband to kick her to the curb. She showed me her modeling portfolio filled with beautiful nude pictures of her in younger days.

She told me she had been arrested the day before for threatening a hotel clerk.

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Things calmed down and I went into the kitchen to get a drink of water. She called after me and said there was cold water in the fridge.

I opened the refrigerator door and there, on a thanksgiving silver platter, was Pete – dead as a door nail. You probably guessed that ending based on the chapter title. I flashed to a Betty Davis movie and a head tumbling down the stairway. I’ll never look at a silver platter the same, the image game plays in my mind, snapshots taken and memories made. In that very moment I thought, almost out loud, how strange my life continues to be. Intense and different.

“Sweetie, what happened to Pete” I asked from the kitchen.

She told me Pete had been hit by a car and killed the night before and she didn’t know what to do with him. Her best idea was to put him in the fridge. I knew Pete’s death was the straw that broke the camel’s back for this woman, one more thing she didn’t need. Pete meant the world to her and was her only companion.

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I went into Ex Cop mode and got her to agree for me to contact the Police for help. They came out and I briefed them with all I knew about her. I didn’t even know her last name or any of her family.

I lost track of her after that. Later she called and I asked where she’d been and she said “locked up.” I asked what for and her response, which still rings in my ears was, “For being crazy silly.”

Weeks later she called to let me know she had memorized my cellular number in case she was ever locked up again.

She was not the woman of my Dream…

PS: Maybe there is one lesson to be learned in this. Some women can smell the Protector in us. I think this woman was teetering on the brink of her psychotic break and searching for an Angel to save her when I happened to walk into her life. She collapsed when she found me and knew she was safe. I was glad to be her Angel when she needed one the most.

The price and reward of being the Protector…

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© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.

Rookies can be Dangerous – Part I

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I was an FTO or Field Training Officer for most of the time I spent in Uniform Patrol. I’m more proud of that than a lot of my later accomplishments. I tried hard to train good Police Officers and to shit-can bad ones. I worked to instill in them Valor and Honor and Truth, to test them. To teach them to survive, to be Brave, and to always Win. I taught them to be Warriors and Keepers of the Peace. I was tough but fair, critical. In the same moment I was their Mentor, Big Brother or Father.

Sometimes I was their Ending…

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8:30 a.m.

We’re just out of the Barn and for a change the Midnight shift left us no complaints or radio runs waiting. I grabbed a coffee from the corner Seven Eleven store and jump back into the passenger seat of the cruiser. I tell the rookie to head North.

A heavy drizzle, more like a dense fog, had draped over the neighborhood of tightly packed two story cracker box houses. I peer between the houses, into the backyards on the next block, looking for trouble. Glowing halos surround street lights like silver moons. At the wheel of the black and white Chevrolet Caprice was my newest rookie. I still hadn’t managed to remember his first name. Cub would have to do for now.

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I had told the rookie to turn down this side street because of some recent home break-ins. It was early enough that the good citizens had left for work and the bad ones were left behind, with me and the Cub, in the gray haze.

I look down the street and see a car trying to short block (avoid contact with) us. He made the turn suddenly and without signalling. It all seemed spooky and weird for the time and place.

“Cub, catch up to that deuce and a quarter before it gets to Ecorse Road if you don’t mind.”

And he did. I think, I really mean this, that many recruits had never driven a V8 engine in their lives. Squealing tires and screeching brakes lurch us towards the target vehicle. We come up behind it right before Ecorse Road, a perfect place for the traffic stop.

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“Light him up Cub but I’m crossing over and making primary contact.”

I made first contact with the driver and smelled his fear and tension downwind, I shit you not. He already had his hands on the wheel, more weirdness.

“Let me see your driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance.”

“Deputy my license is suspended and I don’t have it on me.” Good enough for me to place him under arrest, for the moment. I could release him later with a misdemeanor citation if I wanted to. I needed time to figure out what’s going on and me and the Cub and the nervous dude will all be safer if nervous dude is cuffed and stuffed in the back of the cruiser, at least for the time being.

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I order the driver from the vehicle, patted him down, cuffed him and placed him in the rear of the cruiser. Once that was done I told the Recruit this:

“Cub, something ain’t right here. I want you to search the car. Find me something and find some ID. This might be our break in guy. Get to work.”

I get back in the passenger seat, slide the Plexiglas partition window open, and read the driver his rights. He waives his rights and answers some preliminary  questions. He said that he was lost and was trying to find his way home in the fog (buzz). I ask his name “James Smith, no middle name” (buzz). I asked his date of birth, twice about a minute apart. Neither answer was the same (buzz). When I asked how old he was the answer didn’t match either date of birth he had given (buzz).

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While I’m having fun being the human polygraph machine and figuring out how many lies one little nervous dude could tell the rookie comes up to the door, twiddling his thumbs. I crack the window and asked him “You didn’t find nothing in the car and no ID?” He answered that he didn’t find “anything of evidentiary value.”

“Search it again.”

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I went back to questioning the driver and he continued to lie. He had finally agreed on what his name and date of birth was but couldn’t remember his home address (buzz). I asked what his Zodiac sign was for the date of birth he finally picked, he guessed wrong (buzz).

The rookie comes back to the window. “Nothing Boss. Couldn’t find nothing.”

“Search it again.”

Because this guy had lied so much and raised so much suspicion within me I made a rare decision. I placed him under arrest for the driving while license suspended (misdemeanor violation) and would take him to the jail just to get a better ID. I’d have to deal with a possibly pissed off Sergeant in the County jail for bringing in a traffic offender but  I needed some photos and prints and time to investigate this guy further.

The rookie comes back from his third search of the same vehicle empty handed. I had him fill out the impound sheet and make the wrecker request to tow the car to the impound lot.

The wrecker driver, who I’d known for years makes the scene. “Hey Deputy Mike, How have you been?”

“Just pissing in the wind Tom, just pissing in the wind.” We laugh and he offers up his Beechnut chew pouch. I declined.

The rookie, me and the nervous dude start towards the County Jail, some fifteen minutes drive away from our location. The nervous dude lied all the way.

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“Frank 20 copy – J&J’s Towing is requesting that Deputy Fulcher call them Immediately” came over the main police radio.

BUZZZ – More strangeness.

My best informants were Hookers (they see everything – their lives depend on it), Cab Drivers, Wrecker drivers, Trash-Men, Pizza delivery guys (they work the same streets for different reasons but it’s the same streets), and strippers, (well I love strippers – I find them to be strong women – warrior like – and they know lots). A lot of my cases were made with the help of these people. I took real bad people off the streets because of them. Cases wouldn’t have been made without their help.

Tom, the wrecker driver, was one of these people. Maybe contact would be a better description of our relationship. I didn’t pay him anything or get him out of tickets. He just called me when he saw things, he was a good citizen and he trusted me with the information.

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I had one of the first flip open Motorola Cellular phones and had J&J’s Towing dialed in already.

“Hey Tom, whats up?”

“Deputy Mike have you made it to the jail yet?”

“Not yet Tom, why?”

“Well you better just turn around and come back to the impound lot, trust me it’s important.” And I did trust Tom, I told the rookie to drive us to the impound lot.

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When we got there the Buick was still hanging from the tow straps of the wrecker. Tom walked up and motioned me towards the rear and pointed behind the driver’s seat, at the foot well.  Right there was the biggest and shiniest .44 Magnum six inch barreled handgun I had ever laid eyes on. How could or did the rookie miss this monster? It must have slipped out when the vehicle was towed but shit. My head was spinning – I was a hard task master when it came to Officer Safety. I patrolled the darkest parts of the worst neighborhoods I could find. I looked for trouble, it was my job. Officer Safety skills were a must.

Tom walked away as I whistled up my recruit. “Cub we got problems, real fucking problems.” I motioned him to look behind the driver’s seat. “You’re gonna write the report that explains all of this. Why Tom is now in our chain of evidence. Why you missed this weapon. I almost let this guy go back to his car and that gun.”

“But Cub we got more trouble than that. I want your promise to me right now, right here – your oath – that if any of your dumb ass shit gets me killed…,” – I took the time to poke him in the chest, hard, each time I said YOU – “That YOU tell my kids that it was YOU and not me that fucked up and got me killed. YOU gotta make this promise to me now or I can’t keep training YOU.”

A weak and feeble “I promise” escaped his clenched teeth.

The very next day the Recruit came in and pulled his own pin, he quit.

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© 2015, Michael Fulcher. All rights reserved.