"Who is your favorite detective?"
Since Red Room has addressed that question to readers and writers, I am certain they are expecting to read blogs about detectives in mystery novels.
But they're not going to get that from me.
In 1989, our daughter, Kaitlyn Arquette, 18, was chased down in her car and shot to death in Albuquerque, NM. The Albuquerque PD dubbed the murder a "random drive-by shooting" and dropped off the unsolved case, leaving our family to struggle on our own to solve the horrendous mystery of the murder of our own child.
In an effort to motivate informants, I wrote a non-fiction book, WHO KILLED MY DAUGHTER?, which pitched me onto national TV shows, and in 1994, private investigator, Patricia Caristo, of the National Investigations Agency of New Mexico (NIA/NM) happened to see me on television. Pat had once been retained by a law firm to conduct an accident reconstruction of Kait's shooting in respect to a potential motor-vehicle-insurance-claim. When my husband and I declined to pursue that action, Pat's job was officially over, but by then she had become so intrigued by the inconsistencies in the case that she had not been able to let go of it.
Now she contacted me via the TV show, introduced herself, and then asked me, "Are you aware that there was a man with a long record of violent assaults upon women standing next to your daughter's car when police got there, and they allowed him to leave the scene without ever questioning him?"
I couldn't believe what I was hearing.
"That's not in her case file!" I gasped.
"Apparently a lot has been deleted from Kait's file," Pat told me. "When I read the reports, I was appalled at the things that weren't done. Not only was the man at the scene not interviewed, but there was evidence that wasn't followed up on, witnesses and suspects who weren't interviewed, and no evidence hold was placed on Kait’s car. When I saw you on TV, asking the same questions I started asking years ago, I felt that I had to get in touch with you."
Pat became our champion, working tirelessly, without charge, despite death threats from individuals she was investigating, as she dug into the motives behind Kait's murder, which included her knowledge of international criminal activity. She became so involved in her resolute search for justice that she turned her small investigations agency non-profit so as to provide pro bono services to other desperate families in our same situation.
The mother of four as well as a devoted grandmother, this diminutive woman has 30 years of investigative experience: eight years as an investigator with the Philadelphia PD, five years as a detective at the University of New Mexico PD, five years as an intelligence analyst with the NM Organized Crime Prevention Commission, and several decades as a licensed private investigator. The city of Philadelphia and the Philadelphia PD commended Policewoman Caristo for heroism -- risking her life to save a woman who was attempting to commit suicide. The Philadelphia PD and the UNM PD awarded her commendations for meritorious performance, and she was one of several Albuquerque security professionals chosen to provide a courtesy security for General Colin Powell.
In regard to Kait's case, Pat has managed to unearth enough startling and incriminating information to interest the federal authorities in a young girl's murder, committed 20 long years ago, (although, of course, to Kait's father and me it seems like yesterday when we received the "'call in the night" that every parent dreads.)
So, no, I'm not going to blog about a fictional detective. I'm going to blog about one who makes such characters one dimensional. This is a blog about an incredible real life woman who is a combination of Joan of Arc and Mother Teresa.
(The NIA Web site is at http://www.nia-nm.com. Anyone who wishes to donate to this non-profit agency can send that donation to NIA/NM, PO Box 27187, Albuquerque, NM 87125. Stipulate that the donation is to be used for expenses involved in pro-bono investigations for families of murder victims.)
Causes Lois Duncan Supports
Operation Smile and Hospice