The News Tribune - Tacoma, WA
A case of identity, part 5
By Sean Robinson; The News Tribune
The cops never came. There was no violence, no emergency why would they? They called Dave back a little later maybe 10 minutes after Debutts left and asked if he still needed someone to stop by. He said yes, hed like to file a report.
We watched the end of a football game. The Hawks won. The cops didnt come.About 45 minutes later, they called again. Dave gave them more information this time, including the original case number from the report hed filed a week earlier.
We hung around for a while. I asked Dave how he was feeling. Relieved, he said.I asked about the cops. How did he rate their response? Im not impressed, he said. Cantwell [U.S. Sen. Maria Cantwell, D-Edmonds] just ran on this, saying shed passed these laws to make it easier to prosecute this stuff Im not seeing it. I mean, what do they expect me to do play around with this guy for a month?Before we left. I told Dave to change the locks. He bought a fancy mechanism with buttons and a code, and spent the rest of the night installing it.The next day Monday, Nov. 13 I called Michael Broom, the spokesman for Cingular, and asked several questions: Did the company find evidence that Debutts accessed private customer information? Did Cingular inform the Bothell cops? How had Debutts been hired? What did this say about their hiring process?Broom, only a spokesman, not a decision-maker, gave non-answers.We are fully committed to protecting our customers sensitive information, he said. We take allegations like this seriously. We cant discuss the employees situation in any detail.The visitor
That afternoon, Dave called me. Breaking his work routine, hed stayed home. An unexpected visitor showed up, stymied by the new lock: Debutts.Hes back, Dave said. Hes coming back up to get his clothes out. Im gonna try to get his side of the story.While the visit was still going, I called Dave back.
Debutts wanted the rest of his stuff, Dave said clothes and other things. Dave said he could take the clothes but not the rest, not until Debutts repaid his debts.I said Id be happy to talk with Debutts. Dave relayed the offer. Debutts accepted, and said he would talk to me the next day.Later, Dave and I had a post-mortem talk. He told me that during the visit, Debutts admitted his real name.He said, Please call me Ken. His name explicitly is Kenneth Brown Debutts, Dave said. He says its the worst name in the world.Dave relayed more details: He said Debutts talked about being sick of running, and explained that his downfall, the source of his constant need for money, was gambling.Debutts admitted his past contact with the real Michael Dorley, Dave said. He admitted stealing Dorleys name, saying he was, kind of tired of being that other guy, Dave said.I go, What you did was really wrong and it really stunk, and it made me not feel safe, Dave said. He goes, I know its gonna take a long time for you to trust me. Dave said Debutts talked of getting a new job under his real name. He wanted to talk to me, Dave said to share his side of the story. I said that was fine, and Id like to hear it.Broken promises
While Debutts was still at the condo gathering his stuff together, he told Dave he would call me on Tuesday, Nov. 14. He didnt. He repeated the same promise to Dave several times in the days that followed. I never got a call. On Saturday, Nov. 18, Debutts sent Dave an e-mail, apologizing for his actions again, still saying he wanted to talk to me. Here's the text, unedited:
I am sorry I have not gotten in touch with Sean I have been living out of my truck and I am sorry for lying to you about everything. this was the first time I could get to a computer to email you, If you want sean to email me I will and send him my side ot the story. I dont have phone to call you, I cant even call from work since I got in trouble when I called you the other day. I hope to hear back from you soon and I was wondering if I could borrow 50 bucks until friday so I can have something to eat and gas money. I will understand if you say no but I have no where else to turn. Ken aka MikeDave shared the e-mail with me, so I sent Debutts a note, telling him where to reach me.
While I can't share details with you, I can tell you that the individual you've mentioned is no longer a Cingular employee. In addition, we are working with various law enforcement agencies who have asked that we not discuss this case with the news media.Debutts called Dave a few more times as November wound down. The tone was strange, Dave said his ex-roommate still talked like a friend.
Im a little terrified that hes gonna be calling me all the time, Dave said. I dont know if I want to hear from this guy anymore.Debutts kept promising to pay the money back. Dave figures his total losses at about $3,000.So far, he hasnt seen a dime.Aftermath
The last words above were written Nov. 28. Since then, the new year has passed. Dave doesn't know where Debutts is and neither do I. The calls stopped after a while. Where did he go? A little reverse-tracing of his final mid-November phone calls to Dave suggested Debutts worked at a mall in Lynnwood for a few days. An editor and I tried to catch him there, but he was gone.Over the next few weeks, I dug up more scraps. The biggest was a second arrest warrant for Debutts out of Las Vegas. It was filed on April 27, 2005, in the Henderson Justice Court, one of several small courts around Sin City. The charge was theft. Here's a copy of the document:
My friend Dave kept getting mail for Debutts. Copies of The Army Times and The Navy Times showed up in his mail box. A wireless phone bill from Cingular arrived with Dave's name on it. It topped $400. The call details revealed scores of text messages to Germany: the trail of Debutts, riding for free on the phone he bought in my friend's name. Fortunately, Cingular told Dave he didn't owe them anything. Cingular sent more correspondence to Dave's address. One big envelope was a health-care notice addressed to "Michael Dorley," the identity Debutts had stolen and abused. The notice said Debutts was eligible for health benefits under the company's insurance plan, two weeks after he'd been fired for working under a phony name. A legal obligation, I suppose Debutts worked for them, after all but it still looked strange to me.Back in November, after we evicted Debutts from Dave's apartment, Michael Dorley sent me a message saying he would try to "stay positive." He knew I planned to write a story about Debutts, and he hoped it would make a difference:
I want his face to be seen by as many people as possible so that he gets taken off the street, and so that I keep him from using my identity any more.The Renton police didn't abandon the case. In mid-December, Michael Dorley told me he was asked to provide a taped statement. He said detective John Awai hoped to nationalize the warrant for Debutts. My friend Dave got the same call. Awai wanted Dave to look at a photo montage of Debutts. On Wednesday, Feb. 7, Awai e-mailed me to say Dave had identified Debutts from a photo."I will contact Cingular next Tues. and file the case with a request for a nationwide extradition," Awai said.I got one more tidbit: A page from MySpace.com, the social networking Web site. It looks like Debutts created the page last summer, after he moved in with Dave. I didn't find the page myself Michael Dorley's sister in New Hampshire spotted it, and sent me the Web link. Here's a screen grab: