The sky was dark as I drove to Baltimore to try my hand at bounty hunting; it was 5:15 am. Fugitives from the law tend not be early-rising types so bounty hunters search homes in the morning and the streets at night.
Dennis, who has been in the business 21 years and has volunteered to show me the ropes, hands me a photo. Our first fugitive is a surprise. Taken a few years ago in better times, the photo is of an attractive young woman perhaps at her prom. She has long, blond hair and bright eyes. She is smiling.
We drive to the house where a tip places her recently. It’s a middle class home in a nice suburb. Children’s toys are strewn about the garden. I’m accompanied by Dennis and two of his co-workers, a former police officer and a former sherrif’s deputy. One of them takes the back while Dennis knocks. A women still in her nightclothes answers. She does not seem surprised to have four men knocking at her door in the early morning. She volunteers that we can search the house. We enter and get the whole story.
"Chrissy" is her niece. She was at the house two days ago and may return. Chrissy has had her life ruined by drugs. Or, perhaps she has ruined her life with drugs – sometimes it’s hard to tell. She is now a heroin addict whose boyfriend regularly beats her. The aunt is momentarily shocked when we show her the photo. No, she doesn’t look like that anymore – her hair is brown, her face is covered with scabs and usually bruised, she weighs maybe 85 pounds. "Be gentle with her," the Aunt says even though "she will probably fight."
The Aunt gives us another location – Chrissy is living out of her car with her mother. We are about to leave when the Aunt thanks us for being quiet, there’s a child in the house who was scared when the police last came. The child is Chrissy’s son.