Wednesday, March 10, 2021 – 1:30 p.m.
Detective Beckwith spoke with YCSD Detective Frank Doyle, who was in charge of previous investigations into Laughlin Auto Body's business dealings.
- Detective P. Beckwith
- Detective F. Doyle
Detective Beckwith: I wanted to talk to you about Laughlin Auto Body. They're involved in another one of our cases, and I know you headed up an investigation into them a few years back.
Detective Doyle: Yeah, we've been on those guys for a while. Still haven't been able to nail them, though.
Detective Beckwith: Can you tell me more about that? What did you find on them?
Detective Doyle: Well, we'd gotten several complaints from customers who suspected Laughlin was selling them stolen parts, overcharging for unneeded labor, causing intentional damage to vehicles to rack up the bill, that kind of thing.
Detective Beckwith: Several different people made these claims?
Detective Doyle: Yeah, we got about 15 complaints over a six-month period.
Detective Beckwith: And what'd you do?
Detective Doyle: We talked to the owner, Chas Laughlin, and several of his employees. Every single one an angel, to hear them tell it. Denied any wrongdoing.
Detective Beckwith: Anything else?
Detective Doyle: We interviewed more customers but couldn't get anything concrete. Without substantial evidence, we couldn't get a warrant to allow a thorough look-see into the business. But we've been keeping an eye on them.
Detective Beckwith: Were you ever able to flip any of Laughlin's employees?
Detective Doyle: Yeah, but it didn't turn out so good. We worked a guy named Jenkins. Approached him during his first week at the garage. He didn't fit the character type Laughlin usually hired, so we figured we'd watch him close. Gauge his enthusiasm for the unscrupulous side of Laughlin's business.
Detective Beckwith: And?
Detective Doyle: And we were right. To say he was uncomfortable with Laughlin's methods was an understatement. He agreed to work with us, but about a week in, we lost contact. He stopped all communication.
Detective Beckwith: Do you think Laughlin got to him?
Detective Doyle: Word is the guy left town, and we haven't heard anything since, so yeah. That'd be my guess.
Detective Beckwith: When was this?
Detective Doyle: Oh, this was back when we first started looking into them, late 2016, I guess.
Detective Beckwith: Have you had any other run-ins with Laughlin or any of his guys since then?
Detective Doyle: No, not personally. I think some of the guys on patrol might've, DUIs, bar fights, stuff like that. Those guys are all lowlifes, ya ask me.
Detective Beckwith: Did any of them seem particularly dangerous? Maybe the kind of guy that might hurt someone for ratting them out?
Detective Doyle: Oh, sure. They all seem like that sort. Not that any of them struck me as the murdering type, but I'm sure they ain't above roughing someone up to keep their business under wraps.
Detective Beckwith: Have they been up to anything lately?
Detective Doyle: Less than usual, I'd say, at least in terms of the number of complaints we've been getting. That doesn't mean they're not up to anything, but maybe they've been keeping it on the down-low since they know we've been watching them.
Detective Beckwith: Did anything happen about two months ago? Any significant change?
Detective Doyle: Hm, not that I can recall.
Detective Beckwith: Okay, well—
Detective Doyle: Y'know, I don't know when this was, but a few months ago, I got a call from a Laughlin customer who put forth the theory that they've gotten more sophisticated with how they buy stolen parts. Said something about stealing direct from the factory or something like that. One of my guys looked into it, but there wasn't much to follow up on.
Detective Beckwith: I see. Has the name Daniel Collier ever come up in your investigations?
Detective Doyle: Sounds familiar. Oh, right, he's the new kid they hired to help them paint cars, I think.
Detective Beckwith: Yeah, our information is he started working for Laughlin last summer.
Detective Doyle: Sounds about right.
Detective Beckwith: Did you find out anything about him?
Detective Doyle: No, we just keep track of who's working there, so we added him to the list.
Detective Beckwith: You seen him lately?
Detective Doyle: No, not for a while.
Detective Beckwith: Y'all try to work him at all?
Detective Doyle: No, it was hard to get a read on that kid.
Detective Beckwith: Any chance Laughlin thought you'd gotten to him?
Detective Doyle: I'm not going to try to read that man's mind, but I doubt it. We didn't give him any reason to.
Detective Beckwith: Did you get a sense the kid was involved in any of the questionable activity they got going on?
Detective Doyle: Couldn't tell ya. Like I said, it was hard to get a read on him.
Detective Beckwith: Is there anything else you can tell me about the Laughlin folks? Heard any gossip? Anything?
Detective Doyle: No, not that I can think of, sorry.
Detective Beckwith: All right, well, thanks for talking to me, Frank. Please let me know if you learn anything more.
Detective Doyle: Sure thing.
Interview ended – 1:44 p.m.