“OK, he’s hitting the freeway and he’s probably going to head southbound. Let’s see here … he’s on State Street and 1000 South. So he’s just right up the road here.”
“Do you think he’s going to his girlfriend’s house?” I ask.
“I think so. He came down this way and parked right there, see?” he said, pointing to the Google map on his phone. “I think he’s actually right in here.”
Looking around, I realized we weren’t going to catch the guy at his secret lover’s house. Instead, we pull into a Burger King parking lot.
Martindale spotted the guy’s car and parks in a nearby lot, positioning it behind a bush so we have a clear view of the main entrance.
It was 80 degrees outside and even hotter in the car. You can’t be sneaky on a stakeout with the windows down. So Martindale rolls up the black-tinted windows and turns off the ignition. The heat, combined with two sweaty dudes and a pile of animal fries, transformed the car into something similar to the Hamburglar’s armpit.
“THESE CASES NEVER END WELL”
As we sat in the car, I asked Martindale if people are often right when it came to their suspicions, or if cases like this are usually based on over-the-top jealousy. “They are usually right on the nose,” Martindale says. “Me and my wife, she could go through my cell phone whenever she wants, I couldn’t care less. She could put a tracker on my car. She could have me followed. I don’t care. She has all the passwords to my e-mails—she can look at them whenever she wants, and I don’t care because I’m not doing anything that warrants me to worry. If you’re in a true marriage, then you don’t have to hide stuff. This guy, he has a history of cheating and he puts a password on his cell phone so that his wife can’t get in there. Now what does that tell you? It tells you that’s he’s hiding something from her. We don’t know what is hidden, and, well, that’s what we try to find out.”
Martindale pulls out his binoculars from under the seat and turns on his video camera, which has night vision and the ability to put a time stamp on footage. As he’s showing me the camera, he has a realization and puts the camera down on his lap. “You know, I wonder if he’s in there with somebody?” I could see his inner Magnum coming out.
“You think he met somebody there?” I asked.
“That’s a possibility. We should go check.”
Nervously, I respond, “Maybe he just has a junk-food fetish?”
Martindale’s voice becomes fast and precise, “All right, let’s do this. We’re going to be real quick. We’re just going to go in and look at the menu and …” before he finishes his sentence, a car rolls up and parks next to the subject’s car.
“Someone just pulled up,” whispers Martindale, picking up his camcorder. “Now, I know what she looks like. So if that’s her, then we are going in, and we’re getting some covert footage.” A woman climbed out of the car. She had big, curly blond hair, like what you’d see on the head of Twisted Sister frontman Dee Snider. “Yep, that’s her,” he said, while zooming in with his camera. “We have a situation here. That’s the chick he’s cheating with.” Martindale laid out a new game plan. “OK, we are going to go in and order something to eat. Sit down at a table near him and just chat normally.”
When we walked into the cool, air-conditioned Burger King, I thought to myself, “Damn, I’m so full.” But I had to order something, so I settled for a small coffee and looked over at Martindale as he scanned the menu. He had to be just as full as I was.
“Do you guys … umm, do you still have that pie?” The woman behind the counter nods and Martindale orders a slice of Hershey Sundae pie.
We got our order and sat down at an adjacent booth, me with my back to the couple and Martindale facing them. He pulled out a small cell phone and placed it on the table face up. This was what he meant by covert footage. The phone is actually a high-definition camera with a lens positioned at the top, facing outward toward the couple.
Martindale has quite a few high-tech gadgets, but, as he explained later, one of his best tools is actually the Internet, specifically social networks. “Twitter, all that stuff, people are putting way to much out there on the Internet. You can find out what people are doing; you can find out addresses. I’ve found out so much information from those sites.
“I had this insurance case once where this guy had an arm injury on his right arm and he was claiming total injury, meaning he can’t use it and can’t work. He was collecting money from the insurance companies and workers’ comp. I was assigned to surveillance. So I get on his MySpace and I see he has a band and that he’s a guitar player! So I sent him a message, ‘Dude I love your guys’ band! When are you playing next?!’ and he responds back, ‘Oh, we got a gig at such and such on this date.’ And I’m like, ‘Sweet, do you mind if I bring a camcorder and record it so I can show my wife? I want to show her how awesome you are!’ He’s like, ‘Yeah! Bring it!’ I actually got permission from the guy to film him. Of course, I turned it in to the insurance companies, and, boom, he was nailed.”
We sat in the B.K. for about 10 minutes while Martindale slyly captured footage of the two holding hands and chatting. When he finished his pie, he picked up his phone, and said, “You ready to go?” I nodded, and we left the air-conditioned Burger King and stepped back into the heat. Martindale suggested we not walk directly toward the car, but go around the next building and circle back. When we got around the corner, we hopped in the car and waited for the couple to come out.
“I usually try to discourage these types of cases,” Martindale said. “When someone calls me up and says they think their spouse is cheating, I drill them with questions. I’ll ask, ‘Why do you want this information? You already know that he’s cheating on you. How is this information going to benefit you?’ But typically, they just want closure. I think people like to hang onto the hopes that maybe their spouse actually isn’t [cheating]. These cases never end well.”