PHIL CASE STUDY WCDI
The case of the missing children.
One morning as I was in my office when Terri, the receptionist, came over the intercom informing me that there was a woman who walked in and would like to speak with a detective. She asked me if I wanted to talk with her or if she should let one of the managers handle her? I have always had a policy that I will speak with new clients if I am available.
There was a light knock on my office door as Terri walked in with a very elegantly dressed woman. I was struck by her appearance and her strong French accent. For this story, we will call her Monique.
Monique was a little nervous as she shared with me that she had been driving by our office for weeks and thinking about stopping by, and finally, today, she made the decision even though she was unsure if we could help her. I asked her to tell me her story, and I would let her know how we could help. She started by saying she was from France and had been in the states for over 25 years, although her accent sounded like she had arrived days ago.
She took a deep breath and shared that in her early twenties, she married an older man who was a high-ranking general in the French army, and they had two children together, a boy and a girl. When the children were about four and five, she had some indiscretions. She didn’t elaborate on the details, but they were severe enough that she was given an ultimatum – leave the country without the children or face serious consequences in France.
Shortly after being given the ultimatum, she arrived in the United States, and up to this day, she has not been back to France or seen her children. It was easy to see that this had broken her heart, that she was in agony and pain of having to be separated from her children. She had learned that her ex-husband, the General, had died, and she wanted to see her children.
This brought her into my office; she had no idea how to find them and needed help. With tears in her eyes, she softly asked if there was any way I could help her. As I looked at her and reached across and took her hand, I said yes, there is, and we will find your children for you. She looked at me with amazement and said how can you be so sure, I smiled and said we are detectives, and I have assets in Paris. Please give me all the details on the General and your children.
She was prepared as she handed me some papers and photos of the General with his full name, date of birth, and address where they had lived when she left the country. She also had pictures of the children when she left with their full names and dates of birth with their French ID numbers.
I believe we all have that soft spot in our hearts to help people, and I do. And this is the type of case that hits that soft spot in me, and I love to work on pro-bono—reuniting a mother and her children after more than two decades apart.
I do not believe that it was a coincidence the timing that Monique walked into my office. Over the past few years, I built our intelligence network across Europe and developed relationships at the French National Police HDQ. Using this resource, I would reach out to them with the data to conduct the primary research for me. I informed Monique it might be a few weeks before we started to get information back, but I would keep her informed as we progressed.
The following day I prepared the case instructions with all the data on the subject along with the photos and faxed them; (this was pre-Internet and email) to my friend Jean at the police headquarters.
I was pleasantly surprised to hear from Jean in three days to inform me that they found them, the now-adult children of the client. As it turns out, the General was a well-known man, as were the children. Both kids, who were now in their late twenties and early thirties, worked for the French Government.
Jean told me we have all their information phones, address, and work location, and he asked me what the next step was. I told him to standby while I talked to the client about what she wanted to do.
I will never forget that conversation, even though it was several years ago, as I told her we had found them. She started weeping with joy. She could not believe that we had found them and so quickly.
I shared with her that both children worked for the French Government and were single. I asked her what she wanted us to do now. She expressed the usual fear that they would not want to talk to her after all this time. I told her that from my experience in cases like this, children are usually very receptive to reuniting.
I explained that if she wanted, we could talk to them and arrange a time for a call, and we could do it at my office with our communication system. She agreed.
I reached out to Jean and updated him, and he made contact with the kids and explained the situation. A few days later, I received the call from Jean, and he said both of the children were eager to talk to their mother and had set a morning time in Los Angeles for the call.
I called our client and the tears started again, and a lot of French praising. She couldn’t wait for the call.
That Saturday morning when the call came in was a one-hour call I will never forget. Twenty-five years disappeared in a flash. It turned out the children had known as they got older that she had not abandoned them. That hour was spent in joyful tears as they talked over each other to find out what they had missed for the past twenty-five years. At the end of the conversation, it was agreed the children would come to L.A. to see her in a few weeks and then arrange for her to go to France.
After hanging up the phone, Monique walked over to me and hugged me so tight that her tears ran down my shoulder. She expresses her heartfelt thanks in broken English and French.
The icing on the cake was when the children came to visit her; she brought them by to meet me. It was a perfect ending to this case.
This is why I love being an investigator.
Monique and I stayed in contact over the years, and whenever she needed some help, she would give me a call.
Another satisfied client.
Until Next time: Stay Safe