Where is David Addison
by Leroy B. Vaughn
I’ve been a skip tracer since the early nineties and have worked more cases than I can remember, but this case was the strangest one for me, by a longshot.
I first picked up his trail the old fashioned way, by making a phone call.
The guy at the muffler shop in Sacramento remembered the baby blue Saturn with the California license plates and he had a copy of the work order for the muffler replacement and gas tank repair, but the credit card receipt was signed by Mrs. David Addison.
I followed the paper trail to the Tachi Indian Casino in Lemoore, California where Addison ran up a bill for a three-day stay.
There wasn’t much to go on after the hotel clerk let me take a look at the bill.
Addison stayed in a suite and ran up another $395.00 in room service and purchases from the mini bar in his room.
I called the credit card company that I worked for and Sally back at the company office told me that Addison had withdrawn $4,000 while he was at the casino.
I still didn’t have anything to go on, no one at the casino remembered talking to David Addison. Addison didn’t take out a player’s card at the casino and there was nothing to show where he spent the money.
I thought that he may have played the Black Jack tables, because $4,000 seemed like a lot of money to play on slot machines.
The next stop was the smoke shop next to the casino. He had purchased a bottle of Sherry and a carton of Newport cigarettes.
It didn’t sound like the kind of purchase a man would make, but he did have a woman with him in Modesto, when he purchased the expensive sound system for his home.
I had no idea where his home was.
I had driven by the vacant lot in Merced, on the way to Lemoore that was listed as his home address.
I thought that the woman might be traveling with him, because of the receipt for a massage at the spa.
I talked to the Vietnamese massage lady, but she was no help. The cashier at the spa didn’t remember a man by that name and almost all of their clients paid with credit cards.
When I checked with the desk clerk, Addison was the only person registered for that room, but the clerk on duty did not remember him.
I gave it another try and went back to the hotel desk after the shift change.
The other desk clerk that was on duty the day that Addison checked in could not remember anything about him either.
My company has a policy that allows agents to use their own discretion if they feel that it is not cost effective to follow up on a case.
I usually drop the chase if the credit card crook stops spending before it reaches the felony level, but I wanted to stay on this case because it intrigued me and it was a felony.
Our company has written off some fairly large amounts of fraud, but these are usually celebrities that could cause us a lot of negative publicity.
For me, this wasn’t the case with Addison. He was just your common variety of flim-flam artist.
The trail went cold after Lemoore and I headed back to San Diego.
I had the Addison case in my file cabinet for two years before he surfaced again.
This time Addison had purchased a Rolex watch in San Francisco.
I never cared much for the bay area and I didn’t look forward to the long drive through the central valley, but I wanted to get Addison before he caused any more damage to the company. The salesman at the jewelry store wasn’t interested in helping me when he found out I wasn’t a cop.
I dressed in a suit and tie and carried a leather briefcase when I went on a case like this one. I found out a long time ago that if you acted like a detective, people treated you differently. This clerk didn’t fall for it and asked for my badge when I told him I was looking for a man named Addison that bought a Rolex watch at his store two days ago.
“Badges, I don’t need no stinking badges,” I tried the line from the old movie and the clerk told me, “If you’re not a policeman, I’m not going to speak to you. You come in here acting like a policeman throwing your weight around. I’ll have to ask you to leave or I will call the real police.”
“Ok, I’m a skip tracer. I work for the credit card company and this Addison is into our company for a lot of money.”
This didn’t change his mind any and he told me to leave now.
I called Sally at the office and she told me that the trail had gone cold again.
I headed back to Dago and before I got to the city limits, Sally called and said, “He’s on the move again. Addison just bought a big screen television in Reno.”
“Thanks for the call Sally, but I’m heading home now. Call me if he makes any other purchases.”
We had a staff meeting the next day and my boss wanted to know why I didn’t have Addison’s credit card cancelled when he hit $10,000.
“I thought I would pick him up in Lemoore at that casino. I was hot on his trail and didn’t want to stop,” I tried to explain.
“That’s it. I’m putting a stop to this chase right now,” the boss said. “We cut the card off and wait for Addison to resurface. If he’s as good as he appears to be, I’m thinking he may show up later with a counterfeit card, and then the chase is on again.”
Three and a half years later, I was doing lunch with my old buddy Loco. He worked at the credit card company with me and his assignment was Tijuana, Mexico.
Loco never recovered any money, all he was assigned to do was get the credit card back or cancel it before there were any major damages.
“I got a call from my brother in law that works for the Calexico Police Department yesterday. They picked up a chick on a grand theft auto and he thought we might want to talk to her.”
“Oh yeah, about what,” I asked.
“When they booked her, she had a credit card from our company that had David Addison’s name on it.”
“What’s the story on her,” I asked Loco.
“She’s a fifty- three- year old Native American from the Tule River Tribe in Porterville, with a long history of arrests, mostly for theft with one assault with a deadly weapon. She’s got a list of AKA’s as long as my arm and she did two jolts in state prison between 1975 and 99.”
I called the station in Calexico and found that Bernadette Summers was scheduled to go in front of the judge on Friday and I asked if Loco and me could talk to her.
Loco told me he would be ready to go in one hour, he just had to finish a report he was working on.
I went to my file cabinet and pulled out the file on David Addison.
The last entry into the file was a photo of a knucklehead gang banger with the word “Bulldogs” tattooed above his right eyebrow.
The photo was taken at a pawn shop in Fresno, California three weeks after David Addison had purchased the television in Reno with our credit card.
The Bulldog gangbanger pawned the television set and a few pieces of jewelry.
I didn’t follow up on the pawn shop photo, because I knew that this gang banger was not David Addison.
There was no chance that a twenty something year old street punk could walk into a jewelry store, in a nice district in San Francisco and buy a Rolex watch with a credit card.
I thought about the woman in jail in Calexico and looked at a map of the state.
Porterville is in the San Joaquin Valley, or central valley as it is often called.
Except for the Reno and San Francisco capers, all of David Addison’s thefts had taken place in the central valley.
Was there some connection between David Addison and the Native woman with all the assumed names?
Was she the woman David Addison bought Sherry and Newport cigarettes for at the Indian casino?
Two hours later we walked into the Imperial County Jail. We showed our ID’s to the desk sergeant and he directed us to the visitor’s section of the jail.
A female jailer walked a tall, thin middle aged woman towards us and had her sit on a
metal chair across from the thick glass visitors window.
I held a business card against the glass as I introduced myself and my associate Jose to her. “What are a couple of credit card fraud agents doing here, and what does credit card fraud have to do with me,” Bernadette Summers or whatever sixteen other alias’ she may have been using that day wanted to know.
“We don’t care about your grand theft auto charge or anything else that brought you here, we’re interested in the whereabouts of David Addison and how you happen to have a credit card with his name on it in your possession,” I told her.
She didn’t answer and I suggested, “We could put a few bucks on the books for you, if you help us out.”
“I got money on my books. All I need is a carton of Newport cigarettes.”
“That’s not going to happen,” the jailer told me. “This is a tobacco free facility.”
“Shit, I’m ready to go back to my cell,” she told the jailer as she stood up and turned her back on us. “You two amateur Dick Tracy’s can kiss my ass.”
Loco grinned as he looked at me and I said, “We just found David Addison.”
* * * * The End * * * *
Copyright Leroy B. Vaughn 2017
IMAGE COURTESY Open Culture free Film Noir movies