Cruising With the Whore Cop

Officer Terry Peters knows just about every hooker in town. And they love him--because he keeps them alive.

The cop is finishing his second tater tot when a call comes over the radio. Officer Spearmint has just caught a girl and her pimp. They're across the street at the Pilot truck stop.

Terry Peters looks out into the darkness. "The animals are out," he says. Then he turns to me and grins. "You wanna go meet some hookers?"

Peters finishes his Coke, smashes the paper cup and shifts the squad car into reverse. They always give him the worst car in the lot, and tonight is no different. We already fixed a flat.

"Roxy" works a truck stop on Interstate 20.
All photos by Mark Graham
"Roxy" works a truck stop on Interstate 20.
Office Terry Peters listens to Twinkie's story at the Pilot truck stop. Peters--DPD's "whore cop"--talks to truck-stop prostitutes such as this one almost every night.
Courtsey of Grapevine Police
Office Terry Peters listens to Twinkie's story at the Pilot truck stop. Peters--DPD's "whore cop"--talks to truck-stop prostitutes such as this one almost every night.

We cross Lancaster Road and drive down a dark lane where a long row of 18-wheelers are parked, engines rumbling loudly. Peters guides the cruiser over a curb into an empty field next to the truck stop off Interstate 20. We speed across the bumpy terrain, headlights bouncing up and down over the weeds, and pull up next to Spearmint, a broad-shouldered young cop who punctuates every other sentence with a stream of spit. The hooker and the pimp are standing in front of his car, caught in the glare of its headlights.

The whore is named Cookie Monster. She's 4-foot-11, 200 pounds, with a pretty face, that--come to think of it--reminds Officer Spearmint of his sister-in-law. He pulls out his cell phone to take a picture. "My brother won't believe this," he says, chuckling. Cookie Monster doesn't mind.

"You can tell by the number of teeth they have how long they've been out here," Peters says as we get out of the car. Cookie Monster smiles to reveal a full set. Her skin is dirty, with brown bruises here and there and scabs on her legs. She wears a tight but fading skirt and a pair of dirty white Keds. Big, sagging breasts. Peterson points at them with the butt of his flashlight. "That's what gets you in trouble," he says. She smiles as if he's embarrassed her. "Don't worry," he says. "We're not buying." He hands her a cigarette.

"How you doin,' Country?" he asks the pimp. Country's good. Country's high. Country's got a bit of drool coming out of his mouth. A filthy crack pipe lies in the dirt beside him. Spearmint took it from him. Man, Country would sure like that back.

"So how long you been doin' this?" Peters asks the girl for my benefit, not his. He knows the Cookie Monster story well enough to write it himself.

"Since I was 16. My baby daddy got me into it."

"What are those tattoos on your arms?" Spearmint asks.

"One is for my baby daddy. The other is for my three kids."

They're in CPS now, and no, she doesn't get to see them, and yes, she's tried to change that, but no lawyer will take her case, and how do you think it feels to never see them? But Spearmint doesn't let up, keeps asking her about her kids, when's the last time she saw them and how old are they and on and on until she can't take it anymore. Then the hard shell cracks, and she covers her face and starts crying. Once she regains her composure, I ask her the question I came here for.

"How many girls do you know that have been killed?"

She rolls her eyes. "Shoot, I lost count."

Country nods and mumbles something in agreement. Cookie Monster herself has been beat up, raped, thrown out of speeding cars, left for dead. It's a wonder she's still got all her teeth. She's 28 now.

"Strawberry got killed last year, got shot to death at the Southern Comfort Motel," she begins. Peters remembers that one. Then there's Stormy, Sweet Pea and Paper Chase. Stormy, that was a weird one. Her pimp, 24-7, stole a van. The police were chasing him and he ran into a pole. Stormy got her head torn right off. There's other girls that just disappeared.

What about Cookie Monster--does she ever think about getting killed? She takes another drag, looks back at the long line of truckers waiting for Peters and Spearmint to get the hell out of here. The animals, as Peters calls them. She rubs her arm, where the names of her three children are written in green ink. Country looks down at her, waiting. No, she finally says, stomping out her cigarette, she doesn't think about it.


They call Peters the whore cop. But even in his uniform, his skinny frame dwarfed by his bulletproof vest, he doesn't look like a cop. He is 55, with the ashen, sunken cheeks of a lifelong smoker, a pockmarked chin and what he describes as a big nose. His glasses seem to take up half his face. If it weren't for his uniform, he could pass for a math teacher. Perhaps philosophy would suit him better. He's full of one-liners. One of his favorites: "There's one thing you can be certain of. Men and women will copulate."

Peters is an expert on copulation, especially the illegal kind. He knows pretty much every hooker in town. And they know him. They call him on his cell phone. They call out to him when he drives by. For some reason, they think his name is Peterson. "Peterson!" they yell, smiling, gap-toothed, cheeks covered in garish pink rouge. "PETE-UH-SON!" He's got a leather-bound book in his shirt pocket, under the bulletproof vest, full of their names. Baby Doll. Strawberry. Angel. He knows them all. The dead and the still alive. And they love him back. Because he keeps them alive.

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1 comments
AHumanBeing
AHumanBeing like.author.displayName 1 Like

I read through to the end, but I almost stopped reading after page one. What on earth could justify this Spearmint guy talking to Cookie Monster that way?  This woman faces the VERY REAL threat of being brutally murdered, and this thug taunts her about it until she breaks down?  If that is not the cruelest kind of psychological abuse then I don't know what is!  It's sickening to think that there are cops out there who think this is an acceptable way to treat people.

 

The whole tone of the article -- calling these women "whores", joking about one woman's violent death being like "giving head" -- is just so disrespectful.  YES, prostitutes are people and therefore deserve basic respect.  Judge people by their choices by all means, but you before you do, think about what options these people actually had to choose between.  What would you do if your boyfriend got you addicted to crack?  NOBODY chooses to be a truck-stop prostitute if they can possibly help it.

 
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