The Utah Gumshoe: Adventure of the Naked Baker
- September 29, 2014
- by Scott Fulmer
Listen: Adventure of the Naked Baker
Being a private eye certainly has its moments. Each day is different and every once in awhile you catch the bad guy (or gal). People come to you with problems. Serious problems. Many are in deep emotional distress over issues having to do with their marriage, children, finances or their business. Some of these things are downright unpleasant. I’ve dealt with kidnappings, child abduction, assault and domestic abuse. I’ve interviewed rapists in prison who admitted to their foul deeds, individuals who were sexually molested as children and few other things that I don’t even want to talk about.
You eventually find yourself getting past the point where you are surprised by what you encounter. Then there’s the weird and the wacky stuff. I remember one guy called and said the government was watching him. He had put aluminum foil over all his windows. Still, every time he left his home he noticed airplanes and helicopters flying overhead watching his every move. He asked if I could help. Then there was the case of Doug Wheatley. A case I call the Utah Gumshoe…and the Adventure of the Naked Baker.
It’s one of the perils of the job, I suppose. Some things can’t be unseen. Clorox doesn’t make enough bleach to pour in my eyes to help me forget the sight of a naked 60 year old man.
Doug could not play nicely with others. Doug had no respect for women. Doug, was a misanthrope. Doug was a baker for a ski resort in Park City, Utah. As a retirement gift for a parting female co-worker, he baked a cake. Chocolate. With cream icing. In the exact shape of a certain part of the male anatomy (Doug was a cretin). The female co-worker was not impressed. In fact, she filed a complaint. Doug had done this kind of thing before. Doug didn’t know it at the time but his little pastry penis project was the final straw for this prickly purveyor of perversion. He would be fired by the end of the week.
The resort contacted The Utah Gumshoe because they wanted to conduct surveillance on Doug the day he was fired (a Friday) as well as the remainder of the weekend. Doug was unpredictable. A loose cannon. They wanted to make sure that after he was fired he didn’t come back to work and cause problems or do something violent. This is, in fact, a common service provided by private eyes. It wasn’t the first time, nor would it be the last time I followed a fired employee.
Armed with a picture of Doug (taken by the resort for his employee ID) I showed up at 4:00 am at Doug’s apartment complex on the Friday he was to be fired. I found a suitable surveillance position in the parking lot of another apartment complex that abutted Doug’s. It was about a foot higher giving me a clear unobstructed view of Doug’s apartment, including his sliding glass doors. It was a view that, as it turns out, would present me with much more than I wanted to see.
I picked up my video camera and zoomed in on what appeared to be Doug. But something was wrong. I initially thought he was wearing a pale white unitard. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Doug was naked.
About 30 minutes into the surveillance I saw a figure walking back and forth through the sliding glass. I picked up my video camera and zoomed in on what appeared to be Doug. But something was wrong. I initially thought he was wearing a pale white unitard. Unfortunately, that was not the case. Doug was naked. Yeah that’s right. Naked. As a jay bird. Like the day he was born. Except Doug was a pasty white old man who had stopped working out years ago. As Newman said to Jerry’s parents in an episode of Seinfeld, “…a more offensive spectacle I cannot recall.”
It’s one of the perils of the job, I suppose. Some things can’t be unseen. Clorox doesn’t make enough bleach to pour in my eyes to help me forget the sight of a naked 60 year old man. But it brought to mind a lesson every pi should know about reasonable expectation of privacy. More on that in a minute.
I followed Doug to work that morning all the while knowing what his fate would be. As expected, he was fired. I watched him walk out to his car aPrivacy couple of hours later carrying a bankers box with his personal belongings. I almost felt sorry for him. Almost. He returned home and the rest of the weekend was uneventful. Doug may have been a weirdo but he wasn’t a violent weirdo.
I try to learn something from every experience. When I saw Doug walking naked in his apartment I didn’t videotape him. Yes, the curtains were wide open but even Doug the naked baker had a reasonable expectation of privacy in his home. And so it is with other cases. I’m not a lawyer, but reasonable expectation of privacy can be defined as a certain expectation of privacy recognized by normal society (whatever “normal” is.) It’s a fine line. It can be a gray area. For example, you don’t put your camera over a privacy fence to videotape the subject. You don’t come back at night and trim the subject’s hedges because you can’t see into his front yard. It’s unethical.
Dr. Ian Malcolm, my favorite character in Michael Crichton’s book Jurassic Park said it best: “…your scientists were so preoccupied with whether they could, that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Something to consider next time you’re on surveillance.
About The Utah Gumshoe Podcast
The Utah Gumshoe Podcast follows the real-life exploits, riveting case stories, investigative tips and insightful advice of Scott Fulmer, The Utah Gumshoe. Scott is a 20 year veteran Utah private investigator, surveillance expert and President/CEO of intellUTAH, a private investigation firm based in Salt Lake City.
He has written numerous articles on investigative and surveillance techniques that have appeared in PInow.com and other industry journals. He is a decorated combat veteran of the Persian Gulf War where he served with the famous 2nd Armored Division (Hell on Wheels). Whether you're a novice or an experienced investigator this is the podcast for you.