Naked in Whatcom County: Tales from a Crime Analyst

Anyone who’s been in law enforcement more than 10 minutes knows that a lot of crazy things go on behind the scenes—stuff that the general public doesn’t hear about and probably can’t relate to. Let’s face it, if you’re a receptionist, you’ve probably never fingerprinted a corpse in between typing and filing, and I’m guessing there aren’t too many accountants out there who have clients spilling their guts about the time Bigfoot raped them in the woods.

In law enforcement, we call that Tuesday.

As both a crime analyst and a crime novelist, I can’t help but jot down some of the insane things that cross my desk. On occasion, I’ll include tidbits in my books that are inspired by these actual events because, let’s face it, they’re just too good to pass up. In Collecting the Dead, for example, I included a scene were a meth addict left a trail of clothes in his wake as he stripped naked for reasons known only to him. Among the discarded clothing was a pair of cast-off underwear that officers quickly dubbed “the underwear that crawls.”

Based on an actual event? Yep. It sure was.

So what are some of the other crazy things I’ve documented over the years? Well, that’s a 10-page list of mostly one-line entries. I couldn’t hope to do it justice in this article, so I’ll just pick out a couple personal favorites, starting with another naked guy we’ll just call “Paul.”

Paul is what we call a frequent flier—someone who’s in and out of jail and who many deputies know by sight because of repeat contacts. Now, January tends to be cold in our part of the country, so when deputies got the call about a man walking naked down the middle of the road in the dark, there was more than one reason to be concerned. When they arrived on the scene, they found Paul looking frozen and disheveled with mud on his head and face. He was mumbling incoherently—but that wasn’t necessarily unusual for Paul.

Deputies bundled him up in the warm patrol car and whisked him off to the hospital for a mental health evaluation. That’s when they found … well, the jewel in the grass, so to speak. Turns out he was wearing an Obama campaign button on his scrotum … as in piercing his scrotum … twice.

Naked dudes doing crazy things isn’t unusual; it’s actually fairly common. We’ve had a naked guy who clamped a padlock onto his scrotum; one who dropped acid and then called 911, believing he had a bomb strapped to his chest; and another who vandalized a car, stood on top of it, and shouted that he was Satan while demanding keys—all while naked. Several days later, the latter subject shredded a jail mattress and used the material to make himself an impressive Batman outfit.

Corrections deputies took a picture of him modeling it.

We have guys we call weenie-waggers who like to jump out in front of women and expose themselves, sometimes while masturbating. There was a guy who dressed in bondage leather and masturbated for the lucky repairman outside his window. We’ve encountered enough guys walking naked down the street that if we collected them all together, we’d have our own parade—an ugly parade, but a parade nonetheless. And since Bellingham is host to an annual naked bike ride, a weenie-wagger parade isn’t all that far-fetched.

Look at that. Here we are at the end of the article, and I haven’t gotten past the “naked” section on my list of wonders. Shame. There’s so much more.

Read Danielle Antosz’s review of Whispers of the Dead!

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