The most dangerous person I ever put cuffs on was a guy named Brady something-or-other. He was in no way famous, and he was only 19 years old when I arrested

Someone had been setting pets on fire with gasoline and matches, and letting them go running down the street burning. We had 5 of these, 4 dogs and 1 cat, over about a 3 week period. Everybody on the department was a ranch kid or grew up working on ranches, hunting and fishing…everyone was an animal lover, particularly dogs. There was a LOT of anger, we all wanted this guy badly- we all secretly hoped that he would give us a reason to kill him, or better yet, to pour gasoline on him and let him burn, although imagining that scenario was tough.

We had several eye witnesses that had seen a kid, teenager-ish, a boy, acting suspiciously in the area, but nobody knew who he was or got a really good look.

One Saturday another dog was seen on fire, although a really quick 11 year old boy walking home from the pool had seen it and managed to smother the fire with his wet towel. The dog was actually in pretty good shape, most of his hair had to be shaved off and he had 1st and 2nd degree burns, but the worst was some scarring in his lungs the vet was worried about, but cautiously optimistic.

The heroic boy had seen a red car down at the park, and as luck would have it, it was a car model he lusted after- so he not only recognized it, but he knew it was not from the local area. It was a red Mitsubishi turbo Eclipse. He knew it was a turbo by the bulge in the hood- which I also knew, so I trusted the kid’s recall.

I put out an in-house BOLO for a red turbo Eclipse, stop and ID.

About 3 or 4 days later, I came to work and there was a Citizen Contact form in my box. One of the patrol officers had seen and stopped the Eclipse. Apparently the car had a burned out license plate light, which was his PC for stopping it.

It was owned by a “something something”, same last name as the driver, a parent I assumed. (correctly) The driver was Brady Something, (Let’s use Smith, Something is weird) Brady Smith, age 19, address in a neighboring small town. He had 3 priors, all bullying-type offenses, since he was 18. Wow…boy moved fast. He had lived at this address probably all of his life, as his parent had been there for at least 20 years.

I put everything together and called the high school near his home and got verification he had attended there. I then got a warrant for his school records, particularly disciplinary.

I drive by his address and he wasn’t there, unless he parked in the garage. I didn’t stop, just a look-see.

The school was very helpful, particularly the vice principal and school counselor. They both told me without hesitation that Brady was a serial killer in the making. The vice principal was a big guy, ex football player, about 50 years old and in great shape. Brady was 5′7, 150 lbs, and slight built. The VP told me he had never shown it, but that he was afraid of Brady. Interesting…I couldn’t quite reconcile that in my head. I asked him why. He told me that Brady always looked amused- no matter what was happening around him, but the more drama and emotional turmoil, the more amused Brady looked. A girl had been killed on campus 3 years before, a terrible accident where a 16 year old girl had somehow run under a bus to retrieve something she dropped and been backed over, right in front of the entire school, at the end of the day. The bus driver was a sweet woman, retired something who had been driving a bus for 6 or 8 years, and she was found innocent of any negligence, it was just a poor decision by a student and a terrible accident. The bus driver committed suicide the next day, regardless, out of grief.

The VP told me he had been standing with Brady when the accident occurred, talking to him about his most recent trouble, and he had seen his face when the crowd parted and the crushed girl was visible- he had laughed, hysterically…but NOT hysterically, more like he was watching a favorite comedian at a comedy club. It unnerved the VP so much he slapped Brady, who looked at him and laughed even more.

OK…creepy, I admit that.

The counselor wasn’t the type of counselor I initially thought- she was a career counselor. Ah…OK, how is this relevant?

Apparently Brady had told her he didn’t need career counseling because he would die by police gunfire or the electric chair before he was 25. That afternoon he apparently rethought his statement and cornered her out by her car- he got in her space and threatened to kill her if she told anyone about what he had said, or this threat. She had not confided in anyone before now.

I got copies of statements and Brady’s school records and headed back to his home. Still no Eclipse but I stopped and rang the bell. I was in plan clothes and in an unmarked black Mustang, so I hoped they would answer the door.

The door opened immediately, and a small, mousy-looking woman stood there. She looked scared to death. I asked if she was ok, after identifying myself.

She said she was fine, and asked what she could do for me.

I asked her if Brady lived here, and she said yes. She was his mother, his father had never been in the picture. She said Brady was at work. I asked where he worked, and she looked frightened. “Is something wrong. ma’am?” I asked.

“Well Brady says all cops are out to get us, and we shouldn’t say nothing”, she replied. “I don’t think he’s right about yall, but he gets mad if I say things when he told me don’t.”

“No worries, ma’am, I’ll tell him I found out where he worked through his tax records.”

That seemed to make her happy, so she told me where he worked. And what he did for a living.

I drove to the slaughterhouse, over by the train yards. Brady’s red Eclipse stood out like a rose in a pile of shit, all of the other cars were earth tones, mostly pickups. Weird, it reminded me of that trick they do in movies, where the important person in a crowd or object in a room is just a tad brighter than the rest, so your eye is drawn to it.

Brady worked on the kill line. He was the bolt gun guy. Good grief, this was sounding so much like a horror film I was getting the heebijeebies. I called my Lieutenant.

“Bob, I need to talk to you- got a minute?” I asked.

“Sure brother, what’s up?” he replied.

“Man, I have got the jumps, bad…all over this little kid, it’s like Charles Manson, I never could figure out why anyone was threatened by him, he’s a midget that went a buck thirty on a good day. I haven’t even met this kid yet, all I have met is a handful of folks who are scared of him.” I ran down the entire case with him, including my feelings on things.

“Can you hold there for about 20 minutes?” he asked.

“Sure, whatcha got?”

“I want to go in with you. This kid might be a serious freak and I don’t want your reactions slowed by your preconceived ideas about him, for one, but I also want to see this little prick for myself.”

I told him I’d wait and where to find me.

This was bizarre as hell…I’m an atheist, I spent a dozen years chasing ghosts all over the world with no luck, so I am not a believer. I do not believe for a millisecond that this kid is the devil or anything like that, but for some reason I am ready to shoot him on sight, just to be safe. Not a good mindset. I’m glad Bob was coming, he is an OLD friend, and probably sensed my willingness to shoot this monster.

Bob arrived and we discussed our entry and our plans for a moment, then went towards the door marked “Offices”.

Inside, it wasn’t what I expected. Bright lights, clean, new looking everything, nice computers, pretty women of all ages in smart clothes rushing about doing business-y things. Whoever did the hiring here loved attractive women and wasn’t particular about age. My kind of fella, or Gal! Strange though, outside was like an alternate dimension, dark, odd lighting, mechanical sounds, Moo’ing, bawling…clanging. Inside, a cover for Modern Office magazine. Surreal.

I inquired about human resources and was directed down a hall to a glass door. Bob and I went in and were greeted by a lady in a bright yellow dress, that made you want to put sunglasses on. Her name was “Vivian-call me Viv.”

“So Viv, I’m here about one of your employees who is a person of interest in a crime, could we have a chat about him, in a general way, or would you prefer I obtained a warrant?”

“Oh, that isn’t necessary, I’m sure. What can I tell you?” Viv replied.

“Your employee named Brady ******, can you tell me anything about him that might lead you to believe he might be involved in any type of criminal activities?”

“Oh good Lord, Brady. Frankly, detective, I would be amazed if Brady was NOT involved in some sort of criminal activity!”

Well that was interesting.
“What do yo mean, Viv? Can you give me some examples that might help me to understand that comment?” I asked.

“Well surely you have MET the man, Detective?” She asked.

“Well no, Ma’am, not yet. He came up as a possible suspect and I have been doing background work on him, hopefully before alerting him to my interest.”

“Well I certainly will not tell him, Detective, and neither will anyone else in this office. Margaret, the lady who owns this business, was a victim of severe spousal abuse. She hires men for the nasty side, and they are not allowed to come in here- all of these women are abuse victims, she finds them and gives them good jobs. The men on the blood side- as we call it- do not associate with the office women.”

“Thank you, Viv, but back to your comment, please. What is it about Brady that makes you feel this way? Have you seen anything?” I persisted.

“Well, only one thing that I could point to in a court of law, I suppose, Detective.”

“What would that be, Viv?”

“Brady’s job here is to actually kill the poor cows. This is done as humanely as possible, a tool is placed against their skull, a button is pressed or a foot switch, maybe- I’m not certain- and a long steel rod shoots into their brain for a second and then retracts. The cow dies instantly, or as close to it as we can manage. IF the gunner places the tool in exactly the right spot. Sometimes he misses, it just happens, and the cow takes several minutes to die- it’s awful. Most gunners try to get a second shot in to finish the job right. Brady never does. He stands there and laughs.”

OK. Well now I am really creeped out, and Bob is too. He gets it now, I think.

We thank everyone, get copies of his employment records, and leave. I am really tempted to try to get a look at this guy, but I’m betting the company policy creates an “us vs them” attitude in the two halves of the business, and the men would tell Brady if they knew we were here and why.

Back at the office, I start going through all of Brady’s records. He was a little shit in school, from day one. His high school disciplinary records were 4 inches thick, at least. Everything in there, other than tardies and skipped days (unexcused absences) was bully behavior. He picked on smaller boys, then girls, then larger boys, and then even teachers. You could see him gaining confidence as his reputation grew and “tenderized” his victims for him. I have always hated bullies, and I developed a deep hatred for this kid.

His employment records were less revealing. His boss was a man, and from the writing, not a terribly bright or educated man. He commended Brady on his “atendinse and his “werk ethick” and gave him high marks in job performance. These were lists of attributes with one to five stars next to each, and the supervisor just filled in the star, 1 thru 5, 5 being the best performance. His supervisor had simply drawn a line down the right side of the page, over the 5 star section. Evidently he didn’t have time to check each star individually.

His attendance sheet was filled out the same way- there was a sheet the supervisor filled out each day, basically “Here” Tardy” and “Absent”. Again, a line was drawn through the “Here” column, non stop. SO this wasn’t filled out each day, but rather at the end of each week, from memory, presumably.

I called back to Viv and asked her to email me over a copy of this report on any other normal employee under this supervisor, she could black out the name and personal info. She did.

Strange, on this fellow’s reports, he had filled in the stars or the “present” “tardy” “here” columns one at a time. Each day, he filled out this man’s paperwork. Yet Brady’s were not.

I called Viv back and explained what I was seeing. She understood my query and looked through every employee under that supervisor. Nope…Brady was the only one granted a solid line instead of individual markings. How peculiar. I asked her if she knew this particular supervisor’s after work habits. She did not, but she vaguely knew that many employees frequented a bar called M-J’s not far from the business. At my request, she emailed me a picture of this supervisor, named Bexar Hodges. (pronounced like Bear)

I headed down to the bar, as it was nearing 5 o’clock. I beat the crowd, so I settled in at one end of the bar and ordered a Young’s Double Chocolate. (My favorite beer) I dropped some quarters in the desktop poker game and began to play. I played for about an hour before Bexar showed up. He was well named- dude was HUGE. Probably give a bear a run for his money. Seemed like a nice fellow though, after watching him for awhile.

I walked over to the table he was sitting at and sat across from him. “Bexar?” I asked. “Yessir,” he replied. “Who’re you?”

“Well, I’m a cop.” I replied, “and I’d like to talk to you about Brady Smith, if you’re willing. Just between us.”

He thought for a moment, and I was sure he was going to tell me to take a hike. He surprised me. “Let’s go outside, I want to smoke.”

We went outside, and I asked him about Brady’s records, and if he had “pencil whipped” them.

“Yeah, I did…I didn’t think it was a crime. though”

“It isn’t, just a company policy violation, and they won’t hear about it from me. I just want to know WHY you pencil whipped them.” I told him.

He then explained to me how Brady had come to him one night and begged him to pencil whip his attendance record, as he had missed work by being at the doctor’s and they wouldn’t accept this doctor’s note because he wasn’t in network or something- enough to confuse poor Bexar. He felt for the guy, so he did it. Then it happened again, another situation that made Bexar feel sympathetic. After the 4th time, Brady basically told him to just keep pencil whipping those records, every day, because he had enough on him to blackmail him- if he told the bosses that Bexar had pencil whipped his records 4 times, Bexar would lose his job. So he did…he kept on pencil whipping them.

I thanked him, and asked him what he thought of Brady personally. He said the kid scared him, he was always talking about wanting to see the bolt gun take out a human being. Just once.

So back at the station I cleaned up and headed home. Long damned day.

The next day I saw there had been a call overnight, two twin 15 year old girls had been molested by an older boy, not sexually, he just scared them and wouldn’t leave them alone. The boy matched Brady’s description. Apparently a boy showed up, a senior who had a “thing” for one of the twins. He had tried to scare Brady (maybe) off, but he wouldn’t scare, so he had punched Brady in the face, hard. Knocked him out apparently, and the girls got home and called the police, so a unit responded. The senior boy was still there and said the guy had gotten up and run to another parking area, where he hopped in a red car (aha!) and took off. No ID on the car’s make or model though.

At 430 am, a call had come in- the senior’s 1970 Mustang Mach One had been set on fire in his driveway. Gasoline was used.

That day Bob joined me, we were determined to find Brady’s “laboratory”. He had to have some place where he stored gasoline, kept mementos, whatever. Bob had some ideas. He had grown up near where Brady had grown up. We went walking through the woods, looking in a number of surprising abandoned buildings. Nothing.

But then, over at the train station, we found a room in an old abandoned train car that was on its side, off the tracks. It looked like it had been there for decades. There was a sort of hidden room in the back, 6 5 gallon gas cans full, 4 empty. A table with pictures on it, nothing that made sense, polaroid pics of nothing recognizable, but alot of them. Finally, a picture of Brady, holding a cat up by the tail. That was it for pictures, but at least it was a tie in.

Bob then found a map of our town, folded up and hidden under a piece of plywood on a table. It had red X’s on it, in felt pen. We found the pen, too, and bagged it for prints.

This map was just streets. no addresses. We took it and headed back to the car. I pulled out a map with addresses. We took the gas cans as well, with a rope strung thru the handles. Ouch.

There was a red X at every scene of an animal burning, at the senior’s home where the car burned, and two X’s at the twin’s house. There were about 8 X’s that had no meaning for us…either we missed the crime or they were future crimes.

Bob handled submitting the fingerprints and rushing them, along with one of Brady’s fingerprints we had obtained from his school records.

Nothing happened for several days, except we got a positive on the prints. Then Viv called and said Brady had stopped showing up for work. Apparently he was spooked when his lair was discovered.

We had all patrols keeping a special eye on the unidentified X locations, and the chief doubled patrols at night. This one kid was causing a ruckus.

Then everything came together, all at once, and unexpectedly.

First, the twins parents called, their daughters had not made it home from school. They were very worried. So were we.

Everyone was searching the area- I grabbed a patrolman I knew and liked (Steve) and told him to follow me to the slaughterhouse. Bob came over and asked if I was heading out there, and I told him I was- he elected to come too.

We hauled ass over there, by now it’s closed down for the weekend (It’s Friday evening, btw)

Sure enough, there is the little bastard’s Eclipse in the parking lot- again it struck me how surreal that red looked in this place. Now it reminded me of blood. Awesome.

We went inside and I headed everyone for the kill line- I knew the little sonofabitch wanted to try out his bolt gun. I felt like throwing up at what we might find. I didn’t want to look, really.

But he was nowhere to be seen. Neither were they. Crap..I had guessed wrong? But why was his car here?

We heard a car start and tires squeal, and we hauled ass back the way we had come. We could see the Eclipse headed out, fast. Bob called it in on his handheld. We all headed back towards the cars, but we heard screaming from up ahead. We finally found the girls, soaked in gasoline. We got them undressed and hosed off, then wrapped in blankets. Other than some red rashes from the gasoline, and some severely abraded wrists from the ropes, they were unhurt. One of them said he tried to light them on fire before he left, but he had dropped his lighter somewhere. Wow.

I left the girls with Bob and Steve and headed out in my car to look for the little shit.

I drove like I was being chased- the direction, not the speed. I decided that over by the river was the best bet, as there were so many roads it was impossible to block someone in, and the sight lines were very short. I turned left and headed towards the closest bridge, but on the curve before the bridge I saw a damage path into the woods. I stopped and grabbed my gun and my flashlight and headed in. Sure enough, what was left of the Eclipse was in there, wadded up- as was Brady. He was a mess, broken into quite a few parts, and sort of welded into the car. He was looking at me and smiling. His eyes were calm, very chill. He just stared at me, followed me everywhere I moved. I had called EMS and backup as well as a wrecker and the fire dept jaws of life. We sat there staring at each other for about 12 minutes. He never changed expression, never nodded off, never said a word. He just stared and smiled.

The rescue teams got there and got him removed from the car, finally- it took about 3 hours. He never said a word. Nothing. He just smiled.

I had to go to the hospital and inform him of the charges against him and his rights, several days later, as the doctors allowed it. I did. He just smiled at me. Never said a word.

I saw him 3 or 4 times over the next 5 months. The last time was at his sentencing hearing, where he received the maximum on all counts. He never spoke.

My last view of him is as they were leading him away. He finally reacted- he still stared and smiled, but he pointed at me for a second, and nodded.

I have no idea what that means.

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