To catch you, I’m gonna run and never stop ... Surrender my good life for bad ... I’d call that a bargain, the best I ever had.
— The Who
Just call us CSI: Albany Herald ... where we don’t just write about crooks, we catch ’em.
You might have read the story that appeared in Friday’s Herald, the one that runs down the events of the capture of Stephen Wayne Chapman, wanted on active arrest warrants for burglary and contempt of Municipal Court.
Chapman, it seems, had seen his profile in the newspaper’s weekly “Most Wanted” feature, which offers a brief description and criminal history of some of the people local law enforcement agencies most want to have a chat with. Sensing that The Herald’s Criminal Investigations Division was closing in, Chapman did the sensible thing and turned himself in at the newspaper’s Washington Street offices.
Sharp-eyed Detective First Class Amanda Howell, the tough-lady-cop-who-gave-up-on-a-modeling-career-to-chase-bad-guys — required, by the way, of every CSI team — who also doubles as a receptionist and do-everything girl Friday, knew Chapman was not the usual customer when he entered the newspaper’s lobby and told her he wanted to talk to a Herald reporter before turning himself in to police.
Quickly assessing the situation as only the best detectives are trained to do, Howell called for backup from the man criminals in Southwest Georgia respectfully call “The Deadline,” Lieutenant — and Managing Editor — Danny Carter, who told Howell to “keep Chapman where he is” as he fumed through the ride from The Herald’s second-story newsroom to the reception area in a conveyance recognized as the world’s slowest elevator by the folks at Guinness.
Giving the suspect his best Clint Eastwood-as-Dirty-Harry squint and barking orders in a voice suitably roughened by years of drinking toxic Herald coffee, Carter forced Chapman into an interrogation room and started grilling him. Within minutes, the suspect’s tough-guy facade had crumbled like a six-day-old chocolate chip cookie under Carter’s steely gaze, and the veteran editor soon had Chapman spilling his guts about the alleged burglary that had landed him on the Most Wanted list.
Anxious to build a case that’s “as big a lock as a Danny Aller Super Bowl parlay,” Howell decided to pull out the Herald’s big guns, placing a hotline call to the man reverently referred to as “H” — Editor and CID Chief Jim “Elliott Ness” Hendricks. Hendricks placed a call to Albany Police Department officials, assuring them they could “take another poster off the Post Office wall when we get through with this guy.” He told them to take their time before sending a paddy wagon to Washington Street.
Sensing there was more to Chapman’s story than he was revealing, even under the steel-trap interrogation techniques of The Deadline, Hendricks decided to resort to drastic measures. He sent Cops Reporter/lone-wolf beat cop Pete “Maddog” Skiba into the room.
No one but Skiba and Chapman knows exactly what transpired after the Jersey-trained detective asked Carter to “step out and get me a cup of coffee and take the elevator up to the third floor before coming back,” but Albany police officials say there were “confessions to crimes that hadn’t even been committed” just to “get away from that guy with the funny accent.”
As police officials took a visibly shaken suspect away, “H” looked pensively around The Herald’s newsroom, whipped off his trademark John Denver bifocals and said, “Next up, we get the guy with the eyepatch.”
Carter, meanwhile, stamped another case officially closed, then turned to Howell and said, “I’d like to see Ashley Knight do that.”
Email Metro Editor Carlton Fletcher at firstname.lastname@example.org.