Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Joshua Armstrong

The Seeker Method

The Seekers have an 85% capture rate; law enforcement averages below 50%. The Seekers have made captures in most of the 50 states as well as Canada, Mexico, Puerto Rico, and the Dominican Republic. They've never been sued, and they've never mistakenly apprehended the wrong person. In 20 years in the business, Joshua Armstrong has fired his gun during a capture only once. Incredibly many former fugitives speak highly of the Seekers, especially those fugitives who have had experiences with other bounty hunters. Some former fugitives have even recommended the Seekers to families who have sons or brothers on the run, assuring them that the Seekers will treat their loved ones right.

Each member of the Seekers is equipped with

  • A shotgun
  • A semi-automatic handgun with extra clips and a "red dot" laser scope
  • An Archangel holster for drawing the gun quickly
  • A laptop computer with a modem and a portable, printer
  • Monocular night-vision headgear
  • An air taser capable of knocking down a person with an electrical charge at ten feet
  • A device called a Dazer, which emits a high-frequency pitch that can incapacitate the most vicious dog without permanently hurting it
  • A canister of military grade mace capable of clearing a room
  • A smaller canister of mace for one-on-one confrontations
  • A digital camera with long-range zoom
  • A telescoping ASP baton
  • A Game Finder scope that can trace body heat through walls.

Yet despite all their weaponry and high-tech equipment, the Seekers do not believe in using violence to take a man in. Their shotguns are always first loaded with Blammo Ammo, rubber cartridges that don't penetrate flesh. They also employ incendiary rounds that shoot out relatively harmless fireballs meant to scare the target rather than harm him. Their handguns are loaded with Glaser Safety Slugs, bullets that don't ricochet, in order to reduce the risk of hurting innocent bystanders. The most powerful weapon in their arsenal, according to Armstrong, is advance intelligence.

Whenever the Seekers take on what promises to be a difficult case, they will first consult an information analyst who sells information legally sifted from a wide variety of databases. Frequently the Seekers will have little to go ona name, an old address or phone number, a Social Security number, maybe a drivers-license or a license plate number, but little else. With these scraps, the information analyst will go to work, searching for more information on this fugitive. As soon as the analyst can provide them with a current address for their target, the Seekers can then go into what they call "street mode."

The Seeker in charge of that particular case will stake out the address, quietly watching who goes in and who goes out. If after a day or two the fugitive is not spotted, the Seeker will then approach the house and check the mailbox to see if the fugitive is receiving mail there under his own name. If it's an apartment building, he'll check the buzzer grid, looking for the fugitive's name or the name of a known relative, friend, or lover. If the phone number to that residence is available, the Seeker in charge will order a toll trace to see if there's a calling pattern in the number of incoming and outgoing calls. If he's checking a house in Orange, New Jersey, for instance, and the telephone records show a large number of calls from Greensboro, North Carolina, there's a good chance that the fugitive in question is in North Carolina. The Seeker will either get in touch with a contact in that area to do some advance checking for him or he will travel to Greensboro and do it himself.

Obtaining information about a fugitive is time-consuming work that takes patience and perseverance. When a Seeker enters unfamiliar territory, he will hang around the neighborhood and strike up casual conversations with strangers over a period of time until he has gained some acceptance in the community. The Seekers often pick up vital pieces of information in these seemingly innocuous chats.

This method doesn't always yield results right away, and time is always a factor, so the Seekers will sometimes use cash to get citizens to talk. If a fugitive is suspected to be living in a drug-infested neighborhood, five or ten dollars to a junkie will get the addict's attention. When $100 is waved under his nose, the junkie will almost certainly give up whatever he knows about the fugitive's whereabouts.

Money can also be a motivating factor when trying to secure the cooperation of a fugitive's wife or live-in lover. A woman with children left to fend for herself has needs. The Seekers will buy groceries for these women, help them pay the rent. Joshua Armstrong has been known to show these women photographs of his own sons to prove that he understands how hard it is to be a parent. If a woman in these circumstances can be reasoned with, the Seekers will try to make her understand that her life will not get any better with her man on the run. But it's not uncommon for women to remain loyal to their men, no matter how hard they have it, and their silence cannot be broken. In these cases the Seekers must use their wits, hoping to glean pieces of information from bills stuck to the refrigerator and address books left unattended when the woman leaves the room to answer the phone or attend to a crying baby.

Information about fugitives often comes from family members, particularly mothers. On the surface it seems odd that a mother would turn in her own son, but it does happen and for very good reasons. If a fugitive is caught by the police, he could be hurt, possibly killed. Bounty hunters have to "bring 'em back alive" in order to earn their fee, so while they might rough up a fugitive, they'll never kill one. Also, if a fugitive is a known drug user, his mother will most likely want him off the street and away from the drug scene. A son in prison is better than a son in an AIDS ward... or in the morgue.

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