Don’t Pick Up the Phone recounts how Detective Victor Flaherty narrowed down his search for the hoax caller responsible for convincing restaurant managers to strip-search their employees, which led him to David Stewart.
Apart from Buddy Stump, Victory Flaherty was another detective who had gotten way too far in solving this odd strip-searching crime that has been taking place since 1994.
Flaherty and Stump discovered that the caller is using prepaid calling card numbers. Flaherty was in touch with an AT&T associate, who revealed that these calls are coming from Panama City, Florida.
He soon went to the Walmart stores, from where these cards were purchased. One of these stores had camera footage showing the face of the buyer.
Flaherty examined footage of other Walmart stores and noticed the pants this man is wearing. It has braids on it, which suggests that he is a cop.
Talking to the Panama City Police Department resulted in Flaherty finding out that this man is wearing a corrections officer’s uniform. The cops took a tour around the jails of Panama City and met a warden who identified this man to be David Stewart.
What Flaherty found out about David Stewart?
Flaherty met Stewart and sensed that this is the man they are after. Stewart was quite uncomfortable. He denied making these calls and pleaded the fifth, refusing to answer any questions.
The cops dug more into him. David Stewart lives deep in the wooded area of Florida and has a trailer. The Panama City Police Department got a search warrant to explore his house.
They found police magazines and applications for numerous police jobs. Stewart’s diary suggested that he was once a part-time police officer at some local department. The cops also came across a calling card there.
David Stewart was working as a corrections officer for a while. Before that, he delivered propane for a propane company.
Stewart certainly looks like an average guy you would meet on the street. Apart from that, he is a family man with kids. The cops didn’t expect that. They initially assumed that he would be a lone wolf sitting in his apartment in Florida.
David has never been charged in his life. He doesn’t even have a speeding ticket.
Was David Stewart guilty and where he is now?
The cops had Stewart on camera purchasing those calling cards used to commit the strip-search crime. They went through his work schedule and pointed out that he wasn’t working when the calls were made.
Despite all of that, the evidence was considered inconsistent. The cops didn’t have anything that indicated that David made those calls. Thus, the jury found David Stewart not guilty.
The cops failed, and all they know is that after the trial, the calls stopped. David has stayed away from the media.
The creators of ‘Don’t Pick Up the Phone’ tried to contact him so that he could share his side of the story, but he declined to be a part of the documentary.
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