Even when you get a lot of space for a story, you often are forced to leave some choice anecdotes on the cutting room floor. That’s what happened to me when writing a 3,000-word story about a deputy U.S. Marshal who spends his day hunting fugitives.
I trailed Deputy Willard King, who works in the District and is one of 3,500 deputies nationwide, over three months as he criss-crossed the region in pursuit of “bandits,” the term he and other deputies use to describe fugitives.
For story-telling purposes, I focused on just one of those shifts, forcing me to cut some enlightening scenes I wish I could have somehow shoe-horned into the story. Here are two.
On a frigid January morning, I was hanging out with King in his stale-smelling Ford as he staked out a Waldorf townhouse while on the hunt for a stripper. Wanted for failing to appear at a D.C. Superior Court hearing, she was charged with driving over her ex-boyfriend’s new squeeze. She was also accused of stabbing her boyfriend 27 times, possibly in self-defense.
None of that would be unusual except that King was staking out the house of her boyfriend’s father. Why? As incredible as it would seem, the deputy had heard the troubled couple was back together.
“In this work, you have to expect the unexpected, especially when it comes to relationships,” he said matter-of-factly. “Like in this case, they can be a bit messy.”
After six hours, King finally knocked on the father’s door. “There is no way he is with her,” the father said incredulously. “She stabbed him 27 times! He was in the hospital for a week! There is just no way.”
The father refused to let King and two other deputies inside his house, which made them suspicious. Still, after more legwork, they are now convinced the father was right – King believes the stripper is holing up with a different group of friends and relatives. She is still on the run.
On another morning, King was helping a fellow deputy serve a warrant on a man wanted on charges of “assault, dangerous weapon, shoe.” It turned out that the man was charged with badly beating another man with a boot.
While other deputies were preparing to hit the front door, King took up a position in a rear alley in case the bandit tried to slip away. That’s when Deputy Eric Navas came on the radio: “Proceed with caution, especially if he has shoes on.”
Read more: The Post’s crime coverage