When you’re a teenager it’s easy to be led astray. What’s hard is getting out of a bad situation.
Mature or distressing themes and strong language. This story deals with issues that are, unfortunately, true to life for some teens.
In keeping with our policy of not running from real life issues, we are hosting Bad Boy Gone Good with this advisory.
Peter Medrano went missing on Thursday night October 15, 2015 at about 10:45 PM. The officers who had been at 149 Fleetwood Court, the most recent known address for Peter Medrano, discovered to their frustration and embarrassment that he had left the premises and his black Cadillac Escalade SUV was no longer parked in the driveway in front of the closed garage door at 149 Fleetwood Court. His current whereabouts were unknown. They found an envelope torn open with the pages of the permanent restraining order spread across the dining room table, torn into pieces. The San Bruno police issued an APB, an all-points bulletin, for his arrest. The charges were spousal battery, attempted murder, a felon carrying a concealed weapon, and a number of related charges.
The suspect’s 2013 black Cadillac Escalade SUV with California license plate number 2GAT123, registered to Peter Medrano, was stopped at a DUI checkpoint on West Shields Avenue in Fresno, California on Friday night at 11:13 PM. The license plate number was checked and it was logged on the Fresno Police computer system. The driver didn’t show any signs of being under the influence of alcohol or drugs so he was waved through.
Saturday night the APB with the license plate number 2GAT123 was received by the Fresno Real Time Crime Center system and automatically matched to the information collected at the DUI Checkpoint. An electronic follow-up report was sent to the San Bruno Police Department within fifteen minutes of the match. It was received and logged.
When staff arrived Monday morning and reports were processed the license plate match report was forwarded to Officer Chris Baxter. He received and viewed it Monday afternoon at 4:30 PM, almost 90 hours after the APB was issued.
Officer Baxter called a meeting with Officers Jake Walters and Patricia Daniels. They had to figure out their next step.
“If he was in Fresno Friday night he was probably heading toward Los Angeles,” Jake suggested. “He could be aiming for the border, but the Mexicanos (he correctly pronounced it ‘meh-he-cah-nos’) should catch him if he shows up there. They get our APBs just like our guys. They’ll take that Cadillac away from him and dump him into jail so fast he won’t know what happened.”
Chris shook his head. “Assuming that they actually look up the Escalade license plate number. Depending on where he crosses there could be hundreds of cars crossing into Mexico. I don’t think they’d have the time to manually check each plate number.”
Jake was more optimistic. “I read that the Mexico Border Police are starting to use license plate scanners now. If so, they would definitely get a hit.”
“Or maybe he’s planning on heading east on I-10 and going to Arizona or Texas,” Patricia suggested.
“Good luck with that,” Chris said. “I’ve sent the APB to the FBI and Homeland Security. That’s going to pretty much lock up all the borders and flights. Every police agency is going to get it. Pete’s gonna be a target for the Police and the Highway Patrol in every state. And the Border Patrol if he tries to drive into Mexico or Canada.”
But Pete wasn’t anywhere near Fresno nor was his Cadillac Escalade SUV.
Pete picked up a copy of Auto Trader Magazine and found a guy in Tracy who wanted to buy the same 2013 black Escalade model and trim as Pete’s. He also found a guy in Tracy who had a 2014 Toyota Prius for sale and he needed a quick all-cash sale because he’d lost his job.
Pete decided to check out the Prius first. Gas and maintenance would be a hell of a lot cheaper if he had a Prius. His only worry about the Prius, amplified when he saw the kid who was selling it, Terry Parker, was that it might be stolen and have a fake pink slip. “I could have one made for twenty, thirty bucks,” he thought. Without a valid pink slip, the nickname for the automobile registration form in California, he couldn’t get the car registered in his name. It’d be like flushing his money down the crapper. Terry could tell that Pete was reluctant to trust the pink slip.
“Hey, man… no problemo about the pink slip. It’s legit. I’ll take you to the DMV and you can register it in your name right there, and then pay me right there. All you’ve gotta promise is to give me a ride home.”
“Okay, you got a deal. Thing is, I’ve gotta sell my Escalade first and I gotta go see the guy who says he wants to plunk down the bucks to buy it. What d’ya say if I drive to the guys house, and if he says okay to buy my Escalade, I call you and you drive the Prius over, I show you the money, you drive me to the DMV, I register the Prius, give you the money right there in the DMV office. I’ll drive you home and shag my ass outa this hick town.”
“Sounds right-on to me. Here’s my cell number so you can call me. Hey, if your deal doesn’t go through, call me anyways so I don’t wait around all the rest of the fuckin’ day ’cuz you’re a no-show. Okay?”
“Yup.” Pete looked at the ad in Auto Trader. “You know how I can get to Altamont Drive?”
“Sure.” He gave Pete verbal directions which totally confused him. So Terry drew a map and Pete was able to follow it to the Escalade buyer’s house.
The buyer, Darryl Holmes, was eager. He held the pink skip up to the sun to make sure it had the California Bear watermarks that supposedly made it impossible to forge. They completed the deal, Pete signed the Pink Slip over to the guy, and he got a stack of cash. Pete laughed to himself. “If I wasn’t an honest guy this dickwad could’ve ended up with his brains all over his garage floor and I’d have his money and the car,” he thought as he counted the money. They looked like legit hundred dollar bills, nine packs of 50 bills each, $45,000 in real, U-S-of-A cash money. He decided he wouldn’t ask Mister Holmes why he was paying in cash.
“Okay, we got a deal. Lemme call my friend who’s gonna pick me up. I have some personal stuff in the car, like some candy, maps, and CDs, and a suitcase in the back. I’ll hafta get all that stuff.”
“No problem. Ya know, I’m heading to our place in Palm Springs to meet the wife. She’s gonna shit her panties when she see this car. It’s for her birthday. Then we’ll have two of them, like twins.”
“Happy wife, happy life,” Pete said. The buyer laughed, and so did Pete. “Damn,” Pete thought, “everything’s startin’ to be comin’ up fuckin’ roses. I’m on a roll!”
Among the stuff Pete got out of the Escalade was an empty grocery bag. He put the cash in that and the other loose stuff on top. “Can’t be too careful,” he thought.
The Prius owner arrived about ten minutes later, about half the time it had taken Pete. “That Terry guy sure got here fast, he must know a shortcut. But he oughta know ’cuz he lives here,” he thought. Pete checked his watch. It was exactly two o’clock.
Terry drove Pete to the DMV office. Pete was glad that he was handing over the money in a safe location. He was going to pay $22,000 for the Prius, just less than half of what he got for the Escalade. Before taking the money out he went over to the cop who was on duty.
“I just bought this guy’s Prius. Here’s my registration to prove what I’m sayin’ isn’t a crock of shit and that we’re sellin’ drugs or something else illegal in here. I got the cash, so we figured I’d pay for the car in the DMV office, it’s secure and no one’s gonna come up and grab my sack of cash. Okay?”
The cop looked at Pete and laughed. “This is the weirdest story I’ve ever heard. But what you got looks legit, so go for it. There’s a place over there in the corner that’ll be more private. You have any trouble with anyone, you give me a shout, okay?”
Pete grinned. “Okay. Thanks.”
Pete and Terry got in the automobile registration line. It moved pretty fast, and when it was Pete’s turn Terry signed the pick slip and handed it to Pete. In turn Pete handed it and his driver’s license to the clerk. She entered the information into her computer terminal, told Pete the registration fee. He asked if he could pay with hundred dollar bills. She said it was fine, but she’d have to use a marker to validate that the bills were okay. Pete said that was okay with him, and he handed her four one hundred dollar bills. She checked them, then handed Pete his change in cash.
They walked to the corner where the cop had pointed. Pete handed Terry two-hundred and twenty one-hundred dollar bills, four banded stacks of 50 plus 20 loose bills. Terry counted the money, then handed Pete two sets of keys and fobs, and Pete drove the guy home.
“There’s a CD in the glove box. It has videos that’ll show you everything you need to know about this Prius,” Terry said as he got out of the car. “There’s also a manual, but it’s not very detailed.”
“Okay, thanks. You know, I’m heading to Tahoe to try my hand at the slots. I’ll limit my gambling to a hundred bucks. I know all those machines are rigged, but what the hell, I’ll have a little fun. The drive there and back will let me learn how to run this thing.”
Pete drove off and when he got to the freeway he headed west toward the Bay Area instead of east toward Tahoe. He thought about what he had on his plate. “What I gotta do is find that fuckin’ Jado and make him disappear. That way he can’t say he wasn’t around when Doris had her accident. Not gonna be easy ’cuz I don’ have any idea where to find the little shit. Before I do that I gotta find somewhere to stay. I figure I can’t go back to the house, the cops are pob’ly hangin’ around just hoping I show up. I need a real cheap place that I can rent for a week. Maybe one of them cheap trailer parks. Good thing I packed stuff to wear to the truck auction. Otherwise I’d hafta buy clothes. I gotta be careful and save as much cash as I can.”
When Officer Chris Baxter arrived at San Bruno Police Headquarters he went through his email then reviewed reports relating to his cases. One caught his eye. Pete Medrano’s black Cadillac Escalade SUV was sighted by a CHP patrol in Redlands on Saturday at around noon. They were responding to an injury accident and called in the sighting to dispatch. Another patrol car had been dispatched but wasn’t able to locate the Escalade and was reassigned to another traffic incident. He called a meeting of his team and told them what had been reported.
“Looks like he could be heading to Mexico,” Officer Patricia Daniels said.
“But there’s a timing discrepancy,” Officer Baxter said. “He’s in Fresno at 11:13 PM Friday night. Then he’s in Redlands at noon on Saturday. It’s about four hours from Fresno to Redlands. So where was he for the other eight hours?”
“At a motel, sleeping, probably,” Officer Eric Cooper suggested.
“Then we should be able to track the license plate number. Motels are required to have vehicle license plate numbers,” Office Daniels suggested.
Officer Baxter shook his head. “But the plate numbers are entered by the person registering, and how many motels check what they enter? Almost none.”
“Is Pete smart enough to know that?” she asked.
Officer Baxter shrugged his shoulders. “I don’t know. Anyway, let’s assume he either stayed in a motel or slept in his car. So he’s rested and he leaves Fresno at about eight o’clock Saturday morning and he gets to Redlands at noon. Let’s say he keeps going south from Redlands. It’s less than four hours to Mexicali and the Mexican border. That means he’d be there around four. Let’s check with Border Patrol and see if a black Cadillac Escalade SUV with California license plate number 2GAT123 was logged at the border, and if our Mexican friends have any record of the vehicle. Eric, can you take care of that?”
“Sure thing, Chris,” Office Cooper replied.
“Okay, what else do you guys have this morning?” Officer Baxter asked. He didn’t know that Pete had never been in Fresno or Redlands; he’d been in Tracy just east of the Bay Area. The black Cadillac Escalade SUV was now owned by Darryl Holmes, who was on his way to his second home in Palm Springs by way of Fresno and Redlands. Pete was now driving a Toyota Prius formerly owned by Terry Parker who lived in Tracy. All of these transactions were still churning through the DMV computers and weren’t updated on the central server in Sacramento… yet.
Pete was definitely an unhappy camper. The Prius was different enough that he had problems with lots of little things including how to get the key out of the ignition, enabling the alarm, opening the rear access without setting off the alarm, and how to turn off the alarm. Then it started to rain and he couldn’t find the switch to turn on the wipers. He had to exit the freeway and ask a gas station attendant who showed him the control. Fortunately, he was a nice kid and he didn’t make any nasty remarks about Pete’s lack of knowledge about his Prius.
He’d wanted to find a cheap place to get a night’s sleep, but the drive west from Tracy led him into expensive suburbs and he kept going until he got to Oakland. Pete didn’t like Oakland; there were too many gangs with members who might recognize him. He didn’t want to drive to San Bruno; the cops would be on the lookout for him. It didn’t occur to him that they wouldn’t know about the Prius, but then Pete usually didn’t think about details like that. He ended up driving over sixty miles south to Morgan Hill. He figured no one would recognize him in that town since he’d never been there before. He found a cheap motel that he could afford. He seemed oblivious that he had over twenty-two thousand dollars in cash on him. When he registered he used the Escalade’s license plate number in case the cops came sniffing around. Of course, the clerk never checked.
Pete was taking a vacation of sorts. He didn’t do much more than some of his favorite things: buying junk food and beer, then spending most of his time watching TV, eating, drinking, and sleeping. He’d figured he’d have lots of time to plan what he needed to do next, which was how to find that little shit Jado. For now he needed a break and some relaxation.
Back at the San Bruno Police Department Officer Chris Baxter received a report that Pete’s Cadillac Escalade SUV had been registered to a new owner, Judith Holmes, in Palm Springs, California on Friday, October 16, 2015. He called the Palm Springs Police Department and spoke to Officer Laska Wayne.
“This is Officer Chris Baxter with the San Bruno Police Department. We issued an APB for a Peter Medrano who was seen driving a black Cadillac Escalade SUV with California license plate 2GAT123. The vehicle was registered under his name and address here in San Bruno. He is charged with spousal battery, attempted murder, a felon carrying a concealed weapon, and other charges. He should be assumed to be armed and dangerous.
“We received a report that the vehicle was registered to a new owner, a Judith Holmes, at the Palm Springs DMV office last Friday. Her address on the registration is 416 Sky Vista Drive, Palm Springs. We want to determine if the new registrant has or does not have some relationship with Peter Medrano. We would appreciate it if you could check this address. Peter Medrano is potentially armed and dangerous, so caution is recommended.”
“We can check with some of the neighbors without raising any alarm at the 416 Sky Vista Drive address,” Officer Wayne replied.
“That should work. Do you have access to records that show the names of the owners or residents at that address?”
“Yes. The property which includes a house is owned in the name of the Trust of Judith Marybeth Holmes and David Richard Holmes who reside at the 416 Sky Vista Drive address.”
“Hmm. It could be an alias, but I don’t think so. Peter Medrano might have sold his Escalade and these people purchased it. Still, caution is a good idea since we don’t know who’s actually in that house.”
“We will be cautious, Officer Baxter. I’ll get back to you as soon as we have some information,” she replied.
“Thank you, Officer Wayne.”
“You’re welcome. I’ll talk to you later.”
Dave arrived at Aston High School and went to the Admissions office as he had been directed by Jay. He entered and waited in line for the clerk who was processing kids who, for whatever reasons, were just arriving at school. He recognized the name on her badge, Mrs. Fintch. When it was his turn she called out, “Next!”
“I’m here to pick up Jaydon Oron. He has a court appearance scheduled for this afternoon. I’m his guardian.”
Mrs. Fintch sneered. “So what did he do this time?” Then she chuckled, and stared at Dave waiting for a response.
“That is confidential information. You shouldn’t be asking that question.”
“Are you trying to tell me how to do my job? Maybe you’d like to come around and handle these kids with their lame excuses for missing school.”
“You don’t seem to understand which student information must be kept confidential. I’m Jaydon Oron’s attorney as well as his guardian. I’m sure you wouldn’t want to be served with a lawsuit for violating school district rules and the state laws covering confidentiality of information about minors. Nor would you want me to ask to see your supervisor. As an alternative, someone can fetch Jaydon Oron from his fifth period Study Hall and have him brought here so we can leave and be on time for our court hearing.”
“I was just joking.” She shook her head. “Some people,” she mumbled. “Let me look him up. How’s his name spelled?”
Dave spelled Jay’s first and last name, slowly, so Mrs. Finch would enter it correctly the first time.
“And your name?”
“David Cameron. Here’s my driver’s license.”
“Okay, you’re on the list and it’s the same name on your driver’s license and the picture looks like you. Will he be returning to school today?”
“No. He’ll return tomorrow morning.”
“He’ll need a letter explaining why he had to leave school today so he can be readmitted tomorrow.”
“He’ll have a letter from the court.”
“Alright. I’ll have a student assistant retrieve him. You can sit over there. It will take about ten minutes.”
It took seven minutes, and Jay was escorted by a cute girl. They were chatting and smiling as they entered the Admissions office. Dave stood up and Jay saw him and walked over.
“Hi, Dad, is there a problem?”
“No. I was just informed that your guardianship hearing is this afternoon.”
“Wow, that was fast!”
“I agree. It’s at two-fifteen, so let’s get going. Do you have your pass to miss the rest of your classes today?”
Jay answered as they got in Dave’s car. “I have my pass to leave today and it covers all my classes. When I get to school in the morning I’ll have to go to the Admissions office. I was told that I’ll have to turn in a letter from the court with my pass. Are you sure they’ll have it for me today?”
“Actually, I’m not sure, but they are supposed to provide it. This is my first time taking someone out of school for a court hearing. If there’s any problem your mom will talk to the principal and get it straightened out.”
Jay grinned and bit his lower lip. Beth could be very intimidating. Then he looked out the passenger side window. Dave saw him reach up and wipe a tear from the corner of his left eye.
“Jay, what’s wrong?”
He turned to look at Dave, more tears now streaming down his cheeks. “Nothing’s wrong, Dad. It’s when you said the words, ‘your mom.’ This is the first time I can remember ever hearing those words. My mom died when I was born and I called Doris by her name, so I never had a mother. It was just… just wonderful to hear that. Oh god, I’m so lucky and so happy!”
He got busy wiping away his tears. “I’ve gotta stop this!” he said. “I can’t walk into court looking like I’ve been crying. They’ll think I don’t want you and Mom to be my guardians.”
“Jay, you’ll be fine by the time we get to the courtroom.”
“You think?” Jay grinned.
“Yeah, I think.”
By the time they parked the car, walked to the courthouse and got to the courtroom, Jay was, in fact, fine.
“Wouldn’t it be funny if they’d arrested Pete and brought him here for his arraignment and we saw him?”
“Yes, it would be funny but it’s not possible,” Dave replied. “We’re in the Civil Courts Building. Arraignments are held in the Criminal Courts Building.”
“That’s actually better. I don’t think I ever want to see Pete Medrano again as long as I live.”
Pete didn’t think the same about Jado. He wanted to find him and take care of what he saw as his biggest problem. If Jado couldn’t be found by the police and Doris didn’t come out of her coma he was home free and there was no way he could be charged with assault or anything else. His ‘good luck’ euphoria had continued since Friday afternoon. He hummed a nonsense song with the words “coming up roses” as he drove north on the 101 freeway from Morgan Hill to San Bruno.
Pete had finally realized that the Prius wouldn’t be recognized by the San Bruno cops. He still wouldn’t be able to go to the house, though. “The fuckin’ cops will be watching it and they’d recognize me even if they didn’t recognize the Prius,” he thought.
Selling his Escalade and buying the Prius was the smartest thing he’d ever done. It meant that he had almost $22,000 free and clear, the Prius was invisible to the cops in San Bruno, it was getting about forty-five miles to the gallon compared to the Escalade’s thirteen miles per gallon, and on regular instead of premium. “Gas is costing me at least six times less than the Escalade,” he thought, though his faulty arithmetic had inflated the savings.
“So, now all I gotta do is find Jado and find somewhere to stick him and be sure it’s perm’nent,” he thought. “Then I can go to the cops and ask them what the fuck have they been doin’ and where’s Jado and when are they gonna charge him and lock him up for what he did to Doris. Of course, fat chance they’ll ever find him.”
Thanks to Cole Parker for editing Bad Boy Gone Good
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