Me & Ronald McDonald

Gumshoe had a problem. There was absolutely no direct physical evidence to be collected. Nothing to photograph. No marks, scars, or bruising. No DNA swabs. No positive medical report by the S.A.N.E. (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) at the hospital. There were no known percipient (i.e.; eye, ear, or nose) witnesses to be interviewed.

Most importantly, Gumshoe did have an innocent child victim. A very young victim; much too young to verbally describe what had befallen her at the hands of her mom’s live-in-boyfriend- babysitter. The little girl had definitely been sexually abused by the adult boyfriend.  The little girl’s all too graphic crayon drawings clearly illustrated what had happened to her when mom worked the night shift. She experienced night terrors and bed-wetting well after the boyfriend was kicked out of mom’s apartment.  Once the mom saw the drawings.  That was enough for mom to call 911.  The uniforms called S.I.U.

Note:  Gumshoe will not go into the description of the drawings to save you, gentle readers, from the mental images best not to be composed nor contemplated.

Gumshoe did have an identified suspect and the damming “Crayola” drawings.  Disgusting, physically revolting but the renderings were revealing of the molests.

Gumshoe was the assigned detective known as the case agent.  Gumshoe was working S.I.U. (The Special Investigations Unit) for the sheriff’s office up in the great Pacific Northwest, north of Seattle. It had been over five years and well over 500 S.I.U. cases that Gumshoe had investigated involving crimes against children. Physical assaults, abuse, neglect, abandonments, parental abductions, luring, incest, reckless endangerment, statutory rape, and sexual assaults – child rape.  A bouillabaisse of downright perversions and filth that were placed daily in Gumshoe’s inbox.

Note:  It’s definitely not like TV or the movies gentle readers; detectives carry multiple caseloads at a time and for the most part work the cases alone.  You quickly learn the number one priority, protect the victim. Number two, isolate the suspect.  Always a demanding challenge.

Our unit also worked on cases involving the sexual assault of adults which were quietly considered among my fellow detectives as an actual “break” from the sheer ugliness of the child victims that we all dealt with, up close and way too personal, especially when you had kids of your own. In no way does Gumshoe mean or indicate that adult victims were any less than true victims who deserved our sincere compassion empathy and our professional attention. However, adult victims had coping mechanisms, while the kids did not.

Gumshoe learned how to initially do the fact-gathering interviews and later on conduct the confrontational interrogations of the suspects, especially pedophiles. Gumshoe learned through professional training and through experience how to get into their sick-twisted psyches (minds, spirits, souls).  A dark journey into unimaginable evil; the too real journey into darkness.

Gumshoe had to identify with them on a personal level and see things and people as they saw them. That was an effective investigative technique to develop and constantly improve upon as a working detective assigned to S.I.U.

The title term “Special” in the unit name was special in the subject matter dealt with on a daily basis. Subject matter that polite society does not want to discuss nor identify with until it happens “up close and personal” to a member of their family.

Funny, how other cops would occasionally give Gumshoe a backward compliment (really an insult as perhaps a police pariah) by exclaiming, “How can you do what you do? I’ll just have to physically cut off their dicks!” If Gumshoe had the time and interest,  Gumshoe would pull this braggadocio buffoon aside and tell them that for the grace of God, how would that validate the victim, especially if the victim was your child, your sister, your brother, or your baby?

How would you hold the suspect accountable and perhaps discover other unknown victims? Nuff said on that account by Gumshoe and then only a muted response in reply as they scurried away in red face embarrassment.


Now back to the sexual miscreants and reprobates in Gumshoe’s world.

Once Gumshoe (over a period of several non-custodial interviews with the suspect) a personal rapport was ultimately established between two guys just talking.

Now, this is when my good friend and partner, Ronald McDonald, joined me in the final part of the investigation.  The suspect’s interrogation. Gumshoe’s secret weapon would be brought to bear.

Suspects only confessed to Gumshoe when they grew to like Gumshoe.  They just knew that Gumshoe really understood their (fractured) view of the world and their individual (perverted) morality. How they just showed love.  How the victim was attracted to them.  How they never ever would hurt the victim.  How they were the true victim themselves. Narcissists unite Gumshoe quietly thought.

Gumshoe would finally schedule the non-custodial interrogation during lunchtime hours with the suspect. Gumshoe would stop his inquiry after an hour or so and say, “I’m hungry, you are too, I bet.  Let me get us a couple of Big Macs, some fries and two chocolate shakes! You wait in the lobby and I’ll be right back”. Gumshoe would quickly return with bags of burgers in hand.  Magically, with no rubber hoses employed nor bright lights in the face, Ronald did his thing. Usually, after the “Happy Meal”, Gumshoe would have a signed written confession from the wrongly (mentally bent) misunderstood suspect.

Arrest, handcuffing and a quick trip to jail booking for my friend ensued.

“Good eatin’ n the neighborhood” (That’s Applebees slogan, but it applies in this case folks). This worked on that mom’s live-in-adult-boyfriend-nighttime-babysitter-pervert by the way.  We are need closure.

Plea deal in court.  He went to Walla Walla State Prison to make his own “Crayola” drawings from his new personal inmate experiences.  You can use your imagination or not.

God bless and keep that little girl who was referred to specialized counseling. Gumshoe prays that her crayon drawings now reflect the smiling sun and blooming flowers and magnificent rainbows.

Gumshoe gives heartfelt thanks for the “secret weapon” (even to this present day) when Gumshoe passes by the “Golden Arches” of Ronald McDonald Land.

Okay, folks, that’s some behind the badge info on the reality of casework by Gumshoe.  Always remember to love the ones who love you and even try to love the ones who don’t.

Coram Deo

PS:  Perhaps a Big Mac, a large order of fries with a chocolate shake is on the lunch menu today?


Danny Pitocco
Danny Pitocco
RETIRED (as a Detective with the Snohomish County Sherriff’s Department, Washington State), Danny has over forty years of law enforcement experience across city, county, state and federal levels of government, including service as a Special Agent for the DEA, US Department of Justice. He’s a decorated law enforcement veteran, and recipient of the "Detective of the Year" award for Snohomish County, Danny is a certified composite artist and has testified as an expert witness in the field of narcotics and modus operandi of particular crimes in state and federal courts in California, and has given testimony before federal grand juries. Danny served four years of active duty in the US Marine Corps and loves Jesus as his personal savior.

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  1. Dan another great article. Before Special Victims Unit became Special Victims Unit it was known as Youth Division.
    I was assigned there for approximately two months covering the day shift. I have one vivid memory of my time there. A call went out 78(Ambulance) to a house on the lower South Side. They sent a Uniform Car to the call advising possible homicide involving a child. I responded as well. We get there and a neighbor is hysterical stating he’s back there with a sickle grass cutter and the little boy is bleeding from the head. From what we could tell the perp, a older male was chasing a young boy who was in his yard with a sickle grass cutter swinging it at the boy. Unfortunately he caught the boy striking him in the head. The boy was lying on the ground with the top of his head gone. The older male still had the sickle in his hand stating I didn’t mean to do it. He’s cuffed up, placed in the patrol car and headed to headquarters.
    We were told that the mother was at work and where she worked. By now the back yard which is a crime scene is starting to fill up with onlookers and more police. The Lieutenant in charge of YD(Youth Division) tells me to go pick up the mom at work and take her to YD. I pick up mom advising her that there was a accident involving her young son. Once there mom is placed in a room wanting to know the condition of her son.
    The Lieutenant advises me that I need to break the news to mom.
    Now how in the hell do you tell a mother that while she was at work some crazy neighbor was chasing her son with a sickle grass cutter and killed him. I am trying to find the right words without being to graphic and mom wants to go to the hospital to see her son. It’s at this point that I advise her that her son is dead and that for the moment she may want to wait until we can get a hold of another family member. I will never forget what I saw in the backyard and what I witnessed in Youth Division when I told mom her young son was dead.
    My time assigned to the Youth Division was short. Although that day was nothing like what you experienced Dan your story reminded me of that day that started in a backyard and ended up with me and a mother in Youth Division whose son was killed by a neighbor who didn’t want a young boy running through his back yard.
    It takes a special kind of person to be able to be able to interview and maintain composure with perps that abuse children whether it be a homicide or a sexual predator.
    Thank god that police agencies now have officers that have special training in dealing with these types of crimes.

  2. Sadly, our culture does a very poor job of identifying these sick people and isolating them before they do harm to others, especially to defenseless children. The result of this failure not only leaves a trail of victims, but a string of first responders that have been tasked with cleaning up the messes. Don’t think I am a bleading heart and think that the perps shouldn’t face full punishment. They certainly should pay for their crimes. I’m just saying that it is sad that humanity hasn’t found a better way to deal with these issues before there are victims. Thank God there are people that are willing to deal with these messes, though they get little thanks for the ugly job.

  3. I can only imagine how challenging it must be for law enforcement professionals to work these types of cases and all of the other violent, tragic cases over the course of their careers while guarding against the negative effects of constant long-term exposure of this nature in their own personal relationships. Doing so while still maintaining a compassionate, loving heart would be extrememly difficult. It is no wonder there is such a high rate of suicide, divorce, alcoholism, drug use and stress-related illnesses among law enforcement personnel, first resonders and correctional employees……along with a much lower than averalge life expectancy. It is so critical for them (especially, but all of us) to have a good support system which includes a strong, vibrant faith in God.

  4. Article of sadness for sure but the results ends in justice. Having worked sex crimes against children myself for over a year there is never a happy ending only one that ends and that you pray is justice for the victim.