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A Blue Lipped Hamburglar
By Jerry Robards
Thursday, May 01, 2003
I found early in my police career that the truth is stranger than anything I could drema up. This was a true case I worked.
I responded to this call earlier in my career. It is a true story though names have been changed.
I was sent to a low-income trailer park on a theft call. “Hello officer, I have a complaint to file,” stated Darla. “I was going to fix dinner, so I laid out some frozen hamburger meat. While I walked to the jail to visit my fiancé,” she added. “When he gets out of jail next month, we are going to get married. I love him so much” she stated as she began to choke up. I asked her to fill me in on the facts of the case. “Well, I wanted to cook some hamburgers for some friends that were coming over later” she added and explained that it was a treat to cook burgers and hang out with buddies. The story went while she was at the jail; someone went through her unlocked front door and stole her frozen meat off the kitchen table. She didn’t know for sure who had taken it but had a suspect. “My next door neighbor saw someone come out my trailer door when he came home from work” she said.
I checked with the next-door neighbor, Eric Grates. He stated he saw three people come out of the trailer. One of them came over to his car and said, “You didn’t see us come out of that trailer, did you?” Eric asked if he was supposed to be in the trailer and the guy said, “well, no”! He said that the three got into a black pinto and left in a hurry. He hadn’t been inside his mobile home yet and didn’t know someone had been inside his residence as well. He went in and found someone had gone through his dresser drawers. I went inside and saw an ungodly mess. “Yeah sir, it looks like the place has been ripped to shreds, it must have been someone that really hates you.” I said proudly as the great observing officer I was.
He said, “they didn’t do this mess, they were in the other room”. I had just shoved my foot in my mouth all the way to my ankle. Upon further investigation it was learned that the criminals had taken an ATM card along with his checkbook. He later said that the ATM card didn’t work and he didn’t think he had an active checking account any longer. He said he didn’t remember the pin number anyway. I explained I wouldn’t need to complete a report for the stolen property if it didn't have any value. He then said he was really worried that the thief could take his card and get all his money from the bank. Knowing that this was a crazy case, I reluctantly further investigated to find more strange twist and turns. I advised Eric it would be a good idea to secure his residence a little better. He proudly said he had already upgraded his homes security before I arrived. He stated he had put two more nails by the door and doubled the knots on the rope he had tied to the handle. He said that it would work until he got a home security system installed. I asked about the checkbook. He said that there were no checks in it but was worried that someone could use the deposit slips to make counterfeit checks. He then stated he remembered having $12.00 in his account and the crooks could wipe him out. As I was about to hunt down the suspected perpetrators, Eric came over to the car and added, “I have a huge trust fund in a savings account, but don’t want to use it.” I sarcastically advised him that he should use some of the money to move to a safer neighborhood or at least put in better locks to keep him safe at night. “Oh I can’t use that money” he quickly added, “I owe all of it to the Franklin mint, for a bunch of plates I bought.” I was more confused but humored by the so-called facts.
I tracked down the car that Eric had seen leaving the trailer park at an apartment complex. I spoke to the residents and found no evidence the case would get any better. After speaking to eight different people inside the apartment, I found that they all were really confused and I determined they were in need of mental care. They relayed to me, one by one, in the strictest of confidence of course, that all the others in the apartment were slow minded and were being treated for different types of medical problems, mental and physical.
They did admit to having a huge amount of frozen hamburger meat in the freezer. They were proud to show me the freezer full of meat. I found all of the packages had been packed and labeled by a local super market. I also noticed a large container of cherry kool-aid on the table. I thanked them and said I would be in touch. I went back to the victim’s trailer park. I attempted to explain to Darla, the supposed suspects were mentally challenged but appeared to be telling the truth. I asked if the stolen frozen meat was packaged and labeled by any certain store. They said they had theirs in a large plastic resealable bag, with no label. I told them that the other family had some meat in the freezer but is not going to be the meat in question.
One bright fellow interrupted me and yelled “We want our meat back and we want it now. If you have to give them a lie detector test, so be it.” Jokingly I said, “Well I guess we could do a DNA test to see if it came from the same cow.” They all quickly agreed that it would be a great idea and then they could prove once and for all it was their meat. As I was leaving the trailer, Darla spoke up and asked if there was any kool-aid in the suspect’s house. I told them that I had remembered a large container of cherry kool-aid on the table. She said, “Darn, I had some kool-aid stolen also but it was blueberry.”
Not believing that there were this kind of people out there, I called my supervisor to tell him that this case was never going to be cleared and my mind was hurting. When he arrived, Darla came out to my patrol car and said she had some more information about the burglars. She wanted to give a statement but said I would have to write it for her because she couldn’t spell so good. As she began supplying me with more strange facts, I politely told her though the suspects all seemed to have some mental deficiency they had cooperated and I was satisfied they did not steal her meat. She surprised me by her next statement.
She said “I also am a little slow because while I was being born, I got stuck inside my mom, down there, and they couldn’t get me out. I turned black on my hands and feet and my face was blue.” “I take medication for brain damage and sometimes I can’t think right,” she added. I really felt sorry for all concerned in this strange case but I admit I looked around occasionally for a possible hidden camera.
I relayed all information in a proper report and put out an all points bulletin for “A Blue Lipped Hamburglar, with a bad ATM card and a book of deposit slips.”
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