Guilty Footprints: A True Crime Story
By CJ Edwards
It was January, and I was assigned as a patrol officer on East District day shift on the Indianapolis Police Department. There was eight inches of fresh snow on the ground, and I was scheduled to get off in about an hour when I was dispatched on a domestic disturbance between a female and her ex-boyfriend. Wonderful, it was just what I needed to ensure I wouldn’t get home on time. My back up and I arrived and found that the boyfriend had already left. I spoke briefly to the female. She told me her ex-boyfriend, Lamont, had been pounding on her back door but ran away when she called 911. I was relieved. Lamont was gone, his ex-girlfriend didn’t demand a report, and it was looking like I might get home on time after all.
Not five minutes after leaving I was dispatched to the same house, but this time the dispatcher informed me that the ex-boyfriend was now breaking out the back window. I hurried back as quickly as the snow would allow, determined this time to catch Lamont. I knew if I didn’t he would keep harassing his ex and we would keep getting called there. When I arrived the second time, the female was on her front porch barefoot wearing a t-shirt and underwear with a blanket wrapped around her shoulders waving frantically, screaming, “He’s around back. He’s around back.” I ran around the side of the house to find an empty back yard. When I looked at the window next to the back door, I saw that it was broken, and glass was lying in footprints freshly pressed into the deep snow. They led away from the window toward the alley. While the backup officer spoke with the girlfriend, I began following Lamont’s trail.
At the alley they turned north and I followed. Lamont had to be hiding close by. The tracks led me past three more yards stopping at a privacy fence. Many of the yards had fences separating them, but they did not completely enclose the side of the yard facing the alley. This allowed residents to park their cars in the back yard. The privacy fence where the tracks stopped was no different. As I walked around the open side of the fence, I discovered that the tracks continued toward the house.
Lamont’s footprints finally ended at a door on the back porch of a home four houses away from where his ex-girlfriend lived. Walking around to the front of the house I used my radio to call for the other officer to come and assist me. He stayed by at the back door while I knocked at the front. A female in her early twenties answered, and looked out at me with her big brown eyes opened wide. “Is Lamont here,” I asked? The girl shook her head no. I explained to her that I had followed Lamont’s footprints to her back door, and I knew he was there.
She then nodded, glanced over her shoulder towards the hallway and whispered, “He’s in the closet,” and pointed to one of the back bedrooms.
As I walked through the living room, I noticed soggy footprints leading toward Lamont’s hiding place. I let the other officer in the back door and together we followed the trail. In the bedroom, we stood to one side of the closet, and quickly slid the door open. Like a small child, Lamont was lying half buried in a pile of dirty clothes with his hands covering his eyes pretending not to know we were there. After dragging him out of the closet and handcuffing him, we walked him to the living room so he could put on his shoes, and then marched him out to our cars. Lamont had a warrant for theft. He stood resignedly by my car while I filled out the arrest paperwork, and called for a wagon.
As he stood there he asked me, “Man how did you find me? Did my girlfriend tell you what house to go to?” I shook my head and told him his ex had not told me where he was because she didn’t know and I had simply followed his footprints.
“Nah she told you where I was,” Lamont said.
I looked up at him, “No I followed your footprints.”
Lamont kept denying that I could have followed his foot prints, and I was starting to get frustrated. I finally stepped out of my car yelling at him, “Lamont! You see all that white stuff on the ground? It’s called snow, and when you walk in it you leave behind these things called, footprints. I followed your footprints through the snow to the house you were hiding in. That’s how I found you.”
I stared at Lamont as he shook his head. “No way man. That’s impossible.”
Dumbfounded I asked “What are you talking about? How is it impossible that I followed your footprints?
He looked at me and said, “Because. I took my shoes off.”
Guilty Footprints originally appeared in American Blue: Real Stories by Real Cops.
C. J. Edwards has been a police officer in Indianapolis, Indiana, since 2000 and is currently assigned to the Sex Crimes Unit in Criminal Investigations. His work has been published in Esquire (Ukraine), All Due Respect the Anthology, Beat To A Pulp, Plots With Guns, Pulp Modern issues 1, 5, and 7, and Needle: A Magazine of Noir. He maintains a blog at Fulldarkcity.com.