Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joshua Armstrong

The Seekers

After eight years in Alaska and several off-seasons working as a part-time bounty hunter, Joshua Armstrong returned to New Jersey where he set about to revolutionize the bounty-hunting trade. His interest in ancient Egyptian philosophy had become a serious pursuit, but he couldn't quite reconcile his beliefs with the reality of bounty hunting. Ancient Egyptian philosophy teaches that every man must be encouraged to evolve to a higher species, but how can a fugitive evolve when he's caught like an animal and taken away in handcuffs? Armstrong had yet to figure out how the job could be done without trampling on a man's self-esteem.

He happened to meet a private detective named William Davis who was in his sixties at the time. In New Jersey, bail enforcement agentsthe more formal term for bounty huntersmust be licensed as private detectives, and Armstrong proposed that Davis take him on as a partner to head up a bail enforcement division of his company. Armstrong presented Davis with a fifteen-page proposal that detailed his vision of a team of bounty hunters dedicated to high standards of human decency, a strict moral code, and meticulous training. The members of this team would be shining examples to both the community and the fugitives they pursued. Armstrong's beliefs would be evident in everything this team did; they would be what are called "stellar men" in ancient Egyptian texts. Though he did not yet have a name for his proposed group, this document was the basis for what would become the Seekers.

Davis soon accepted Armstrong's proposal, and Armstrong got down to business, originally working solo, and then taking on a partner. When Davis retired, he sold his business to Armstrong who then expanded his bounty-hunting operation, taking on more associates until the Seekers became a team of seven. Over the years the personnel have changed, but the Seekers are always seven members strong.

The Seekers rarely if ever work together on the same case. Usually they work individually or in pairs, occasionally in trios. Their strength as a team comes from their intelligence-gathering abilities and the pooling of this intelligence. They are constantly out on the street, talking to people, trawling for any little tidbit of information that might lead them to the fugitives they are individually seeking. No piece of information is discarded; what might be useless gossip to one Seeker could be a valuable lead for another. They believe in thoroughly doing their homework before they even think about undertaking a capture. Knowing where a fugitive is living, who he's hanging out with, what kind of car he's driving, and where he's getting his money will make the eventual arrest that much easier. Better to know what to expect and take a man by surprise than to break into a house and be surprised by the target.

When Armstrong published his autobiography in the winter of 2000, the membership of the Seekers was a mixture of veterans and more recently accepted recruits. Once admitted into the organization, each member takes a Seeker name for practical purposes. When out on the street, they use their Seeker names so that no one can overhear their real names and possibly track them down for retaliation.

"Jedidiah," who joined the team in 1987, specializes in undercover work. Armstrong often takes Jedidiah as his partner on particularly difficult assignments.

"Rock" serves double duty as the Seekers' strong man and electronics wizard. He became a Seeker in 1989.

"Job" is Armstrong's cousin and the oldest member. He joined in 1990 and is particularly valued for "close-encounter takedowns."

"Zora" was the only female Seeker at the time, but there have been others. She's a Latina who excels in undercover surveillance and entrapment. Armstrong usually tries to have at least one female member on the team. As he says, "To lure a cunning man, a woman is often the best bait available."

"Jeremiah" is the only white Seeker. A former pro football player, his contributions to the group are in the areas of communications, police science, and physical fitness. He became a Seeker in 1994.

"Solomon" had just been admitted to the group when the book was published and was still in training, working on his own areas of expertise.

"Rick" is not officially a Seeker, but his services are highly valued. A gunsmith by trade, he customizes the Seekers' weapons and makes their ammo by hand. He is also an essential source of information regarding the latest trends in surveillance equipment and weaponry.

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