By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
By Anna Merlan
By Lee Escobedo
Well, try Central Europe.
Rio de Janeiro?
No, Doug Havard, now 21, is wheeling and dealing in Austin.
All of those locations have been reported as Havard's hideout in the past year. Havard, a rich, clever preppie who slid into thug life (see "Crazy White Mother," December 26, 2002), is wanted in Dallas and Collin counties on felony charges of aggravated robbery, theft, selling 10 gallons of the banned drug GHB to an undercover officer and counterfeiting Texas driver licenses. He disappeared in the fall of 2002, shortly before he was scheduled to go to trial on the aggravated robbery charge. But so far, Havard has managed to elude local authorities assigned to find him.
"We got reports he went to the Caymans," says Mark Monroe, manager of Delta Bail Bonds, which wrote a $100,000 bond for Havard. "I have no idea where he is. He's certainly not been caught. He may be in France making a million dollars."
Monroe remembered the day in February 2001 when a humbled Havard, then a senior at the Winston School, paid $10,000 to make bond on the charge of aggravated robbery. He and two cohorts attempted to rob an alleged drug dealer.
"He seemed clear-headed and well-spoken," Monroe says. "His dad said he had an I.Q. of 148. He doesn't sound like a gangster. But he's a sociopath. He didn't think anything could happen to him."
Unlike most runners, Havard didn't leave behind a pissed-off bondsman.
"I got no reason to look for him," Monroe says. "His daddy's wealthy enough to pay me off." Monroe says that Cade Havard paid off the $90,000 Delta was out when his son skipped town.
"The dad was way too cool; he knows what's going on," Monroe says.
In the weeks after it became obvious that Havard didn't intend to face trial on his various charges--guilty verdicts on any of them likely would have resulted in jail time--federal marshals talked to him about Havard, Monroe says. "The feds were looking for him. His little fake-I.D. shop got their attention. Everybody was looking for him."
The bondsman gave the federal agents the information he had on Havard's last known addresses. "But nobody had a clue," Monroe says. "When he was gone, he was gone."
Havard has the money and brains to be a good "runner," say bondsmen and others who track fugitives. "He was definitely smart enough to get a new name," Monroe says. "If the guy's in the state, he's not Douglas Havard anymore."
Though Janet Ferguson, assistant district attorney now handling several of the cases against Havard, says that the Dallas County fugitive squad is actively looking for Havard, the federal marshals are not, says Trent Touchstone, supervisory deputy U.S. marshal for the Northern District of Texas. Most of the federal marshals' efforts go into tracking down violent offenders. There are so many fugitives out there, authorities have to prioritize.
"Dallas County has 10,000 fugitives," Touchstone says. "Most fugitive squads will go to [the target's] last known address. If they're not there, they'll wait for them to get pulled over in a traffic stop."
Some, like Havard, have never been convicted of a crime. Others have extensive criminal histories and know that if caught, they're likely to be incarcerated for a long time.
According to FBI crime statistics, 80 percent of crime is committed by people with criminal histories, Touchstone says, so law enforcement agencies are getting more aggressive and more organized about finding fugitives. On January 1, the Dallas-Fort Worth "Fugitive Apprehension Strike Team," a joint effort by federal, state and local authorities, went into action.
"The task force handles cases that are complex, for people who run out of state or out of the country," Touchstone says. It focuses on felons with violent criminal histories and weapons offenses. "We have the luxury of being able to assign three or four people to a single case." FAST is getting a steady flow of cases, from 30 to 50 a month, from Dallas.
One positive effect from 9-11, Touchstone says, is that law enforcement agencies are getting much better about sharing information. If you are arrested in Dallas, sent to jail and fingerprinted, those prints are sent to the FBI's automated fingerprint identification system and compared with "frequent fliers"--those convicted of crimes.
"What we are trying to do is get everybody who does this on one page," Touchstone says, "so you don't have 15 different departments looking for the same guy." But many smaller agencies still don't have the capability of cross-checking fingerprints.
Another effort in locating bond-jumpers enlists the public. In January, Kim Holiday, an ad salesperson at The Dallas Morning News, came to a meeting of local bondsmen about running photos of clients who haven't shown up for court dates on everything from traffic tickets to aggravated assault.
Pat Harris, owner of Ebony Bail Bonds, jumped at the chance to advertise. "The bail-bond business is a glorified baby-sitting job," Harris says. "I get paid to baby-sit grown people in trouble. They report or sign in once a week, tell me if they have their phone numbers, work or address changed."
It's stressful and high-risk. "If you run off," Harris says, "the county wants the full amount of the bond. If I don't pay it, I can't put up bonds in this county."
The ads cost $200 to $500, depending on the size, and run until the jumper has been picked up. Each shows the target's mug shot, physical description, charge and the word "reward." At the bottom of the page, there's a caveat: "WARNING. Do not approach any of these individuals. Call the bail bondsman listed to report an offender."
Monroe, president of the Dallas County Bail Bonds Association, says the ad program has been wildly successful. "It's expensive," Monroe says. "But I put a bunch of people in there. I just got flooded with calls."
The majority of Monroe's runners in the ads are charged with misdemeanors. "They're sitting in their house, smoking dope and watching Scooby-Doo," he says. "They just blow it off. The forfeiters are really stupid guys."
Few of his tipsters have asked about the reward, Monroe says. "It was people who just didn't like them," he says. "They just wanted to see them in jail."
Most of Ebony Bail Bonds' skippers are calling in after seeing their picture in the paper. "It's not that they're hiding," Harris says. "They just don't take care of their business." The embarrassment of the ad makes them face reality.
For runners like Havard who face serious jail time and are determined to disappear, Monroe has a different strategy. "I'll see who is calling Mama. I'll see his ex-girlfriends," Monroe says. "They get caught contacting people." Friends and relatives who aid fugitives can be charged with a crime.
If you can change your name, get a new Social Security number and leave everyone you love behind, Monroe says, "I'll never catch you. I got one guy now who's a good runner. He's doing the dark sunglasses, big sombrero hat deal. But he has an ex-girlfriend who hates his ass. She's after him."
Harris sends a bounty hunter after her large forfeiters. "I'm not Rambo," she says. But she bemoans the lack of "seasoned" bounty hunters.
"It takes a special person to track people down and get them in custody," Harris says. "You have to have a good rapport with law enforcement. You have to know what you can and can't do. There's a fine line you have to walk to be a good recovery person."
Harris says Havard is probably not too far from home. "It just takes the special person to dog him down. "