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Murder for Hire: My Life As the Country's Most Successful Undercover Agent
     

Murder for Hire: My Life As the Country's Most Successful Undercover Agent

by Jack Ballentine
 

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Jack Ballentine became a Phoenix police officer in 1978 and quickly rose to the top as one of the world's most successful undercover operatives. His specialty: posing as an undercover hit man. None of the people who hired him had any inkling that he was actually a cop, and his work led to a perfect rate of twenty-four convictions out of twenty-four indictments on

Overview

Jack Ballentine became a Phoenix police officer in 1978 and quickly rose to the top as one of the world's most successful undercover operatives. His specialty: posing as an undercover hit man. None of the people who hired him had any inkling that he was actually a cop, and his work led to a perfect rate of twenty-four convictions out of twenty-four indictments on murder conspiracy charges.

Murder for Hire is Ballentine's story. He worked with criminals of all sorts, from vengeful spouses and partners to the criminally insane, all who had one thing in common: the desire to have someone killed. Ballentine could change his character at the drop of a hat, often imitating characters and "bad guys" from television and movies. In assuming an alternate identity and developing a reputation among the Phoenix underground---bikers, strippers, junkies, and thugs---he developed an intricate network of sources who fed him work and kept him extremely busy.

All the while, the author strove for the semblance of a normal life and balanced his rough-and-tumble career with a new wife and stepson. His story is a unique look at how law enforcement delves into the heart of the criminal world.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
Memoir of an undercover cop who posed as a hit man. A three-time winner of Police Officer of the Year, Ballentine began his unusual specialty soon after joining the Phoenix PD. "Within a couple years I was whisked off to a sting operation where I made a living undercover buying stolen property from burglars, thieves, and fences," he writes. "Then came the murder-for-hire business." He developed physical bulk and a repertoire of underworld identities, including "biker-gang warlord, Mafia hit man, soldier of fortune, disgruntled Vietnam vet, and Aryan Brotherhood prison convict." According to the author, he effortlessly dominated the Arizona underworld, working out of seedy bars and strip clubs, developing networks of informants who referred to him a steady stream of "clients." In every chapter he encounters such individuals, like an impoverished couple who tried to have their sociopathic son killed, or a "Black Widow" type who wished to destroy her husband. The anecdotes inevitably end with the surveillance team swooping in and slapping on handcuffs. Ballentine claims that he wrote this book to purge the strange double life that undercover work demands-"Never before have you seen undercover operatives in this light, as well as with whom they work"-and his account seems plausible. He effectively captures the violence and degradation of underclass criminality, where the lives of drug dealers, bikers, white supremacists, prostitutes, strippers and career criminals intersect. However, despite flashes of verisimilitude, the repetitive narrative fails to flesh out specific casework or time frames. The subplot of his marriage to a woman outside this dark world adds little drama. An intriguinglife story in need of a ghostwriter.
From the Publisher

“Jack Ballentine is a force to be reckoned with. Murder for Hire delves into the seedy netherworld of murder for hire, close scrapes, and life under cover. A fascinating read.” —Kerrie Droban, author of Running with the Devil: The True Story of the ATF's Inflitration of the Hells Angels

“He effectively captures the violence and degradation of underclass criminality, where the lives of drug dealers, bikers, white supremacists, prostitutes, strippers and career criminals intersect.” —Kirkus Reviews

“A unique look at how law enforcement delves into the heart of the criminal world.” —The Arizona Law Channel

“A fascinating close-up of the criminal world.” —Booklist

“An undercover cop's raw voice, filled with outrage and sometimes humor, with the kind of details that can't be made up . . . A fascinating close-up of the criminal world.” —Booklist

author of Running with the Devil: The True Sto Kerrie Droban
Jack Ballentine is a force to be reckoned with. Murder for Hire delves into the seedy netherworld of murder for hire, close scrapes, and life under cover. A fascinating read.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781429968850
Publisher:
St. Martin's Press
Publication date:
06/09/2009
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
320
File size:
269 KB

Read an Excerpt

Murder for Hire

My Life as the Country's Most Successful Undercover Agent


By Jack Ballentine

St. Martin's Press

Copyright © 2009 Jack Ballentine
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-4299-6885-0



CHAPTER 1

The Other Side of Hell


This may not be the end of my world, but I sure feel that I'm stuck in hell and can't dig my way out. Here I sit inside a pitiful bar that has dirt floors, located right in the middle of the worst and seediest part of Phoenix, Arizona. Everyone in my world has an insatiable drug habit or an alcohol problem, and most have both. They mostly live on the streets or call a three-hundred-square-foot, roach-infested apartment home. I can't really say too much because I live in the same hole and call most of these people friends. Unfortunately for me, my so-called friends have long histories in the criminal justice system and don't care whom they hurt or what they steal. Even more incredible is their lack of concern for human life. As long as they get their drug of choice to satisfy their addiction, they don't care who gets hurt or dies in the process.

Every drug addict and junkie in the place slithers up to me and tries to convince me he or she has the best heroin or meth in town. Not one of them can take no for an answer and move on to some other anxious buyer. As they continue to bother me, I begin to think how my patience is beginning to wear thin, and I think to myself how sick and tired I have become of this sorry-ass life I'm living.

All of them are so strung out on their dope that they have a hard time seeing me for who I am. I have hair down to my ass, I'm six feet five inches tall, weigh 285 pounds, and can bench-press 405 pounds without much effort. I've got more muscle than they have brains. I'm definitely not the picture of a drug abuser.

Take one look at them and you see six-foot-tall men weighing one hundred pounds, and the women weighing even less. Teeth are rotted out and their eyes have a hazy cloud around them. Their drug and alcohol abuse has withered their once healthy bodies into walking skeletons. The only thing they respect about me is my overpowering size. It's just enough to make them think twice before they attempt to stab me and then take my wallet as I lie on the ground slowly dying. They have rid their bodies and minds of all morality. Their only thought is the next hit off the crack pipe or draw from a needle full of heroin. Oh, yeah, and the money they need to purchase more "stuff."

They try to sell what drugs they have, but none of it belongs to them. The main supplier has fronted the stuff to them and expects to be paid back immediately. He gives them a small portion of the drug in return for their efforts. They then turn around and purchase more drugs from the dealer for their personal use. It's a vicious cycle that goes on and on.

The sad part about my life is that I fit right into this place even though I haven't become addicted to the stuff that rules their lives. Maybe it's that I haven't bathed in a couple days. Or maybe it's because I haven't shaved for days and absolutely never wash my clothes. It's kinda funny to think about, but most people have never given any thought to how a pair of jeans last about a year before they fall completely apart if you don't get them washed. I haven't washed mine in over a year and don't intend on starting the washer anytime soon. Now, that's a badge of honor to be proud of!

The more I sit here and drink, the more I feel sorry for most of these people. Trigger is a regular in here, and at one time she was a pretty little blonde. She's twenty-five years old and all of five feet, ninety pounds dripping wet ... on a good day. Because of a severe staph infection and using dope laced with every kitchen chemical known to man, her skin is scarred and the flesh has been eaten away from her limbs. She was telling me a story the other day about when she was born and her mother was addicted to crack cocaine. Her father started raping her when she was nine and beat her if she refused to give him what he asked for. She hit the streets by herself when she was thirteen and has been there since.

As I sit at the bar and watch Trigger, I wonder what it would have been like if she had been born into a good family. One that cared, loved, and nurtured her. Or, just maybe she was born to a loving family and they ran out of ways to help her. Now she sits on a barstool and leans her back against the edge of the bar. Trigger then lies back on the bar top while still seated on the stool. Some freak she calls a friend helps her shaking hands inject a new round of heroin into her body. Suddenly the syringe is emptied and she lies calmly on the bar top and takes it all in. Trigger says it's best for her to get help because most of her veins are ruined from abuse and overuse. The helpers locate which vein is still operational enough to accept the drug and move it through her body. It sickens me to think this girl has wasted her life and probably won't live past thirty. I don't have a lot to brag about myself while I sit and watch her, but I still feel sorry for her.

In a sad, pitiful way she is sweet and innocent. If you look past her sores, scars, and all the track marks, you can see a little girl who had dreams of a beautiful life. She lies back on the bar with her heavy eyelids closed as the dope rushes through her body. It's as if she is in a deep sleep and going to a place where she doesn't hurt anymore. Of course, the heroin is eating away any future they may have had.

Heroin junkies always tell you that the first high is better than anything else they ever experienced or will ever experience again. The next time isn't as good ... and each time after the first seems to be every bit as anticlimactic. I ask them every chance I can about the "why" of shooting more heroin. They all tell me the same thing. They keep searching for the intense rush they got the first time. Searching and searching for that incredible rush, but never finding it again. They can't stop though. Can't stop because they just know it is around the next corner. They chase until they die.

Thinking about what they often say, I find myself comparing the heroin rush to a first kiss in a new relationship. The fireworks explode and nothing else can compare to the moment. Funny thing is, it never seems to be as intense again. That's what you always hear from the first one to leave the broken relationship. People always say, "It's not the same anymore ... the fire is gone." They seem to be chasing that first intense feeling with every relationship that follows. The rush is why so many people play the dangerous game of "cheating" and eventually find their way to me and my dark world. Not much difference between the junkie and the cheater. In the long run someone is going to hurt.

After ten minutes pass, Trigger starts to raise herself up from the bar and looks around in a slow, drug-induced manner. Her heavy eyes start to focus on me as she gets off the barstool. She walks over to me, bumping into everything along the way and stops right in front of me. Trigger places both hands on my knees and parts my legs. She walks between my open legs and looks me directly in the eyes. Trigger stares at my face for a moment and makes me nervous as hell. After a moment passes she says, "Do you love me, Jake?" Just as the words come out of her mouth, my pager goes off. The pager distracts Trigger and she slowly walks away to the bathroom.

Leaving this bar is like walking through a minefield. You walk out the front door into the dark of night because there's no outside lighting. Along the way are more junkies and thugs that would think nothing of stabbing or cutting you for a buck. I'm lucky though. As I said, they like me and respect me. Or maybe they fear the hell out of me. Kick one person's ass when the bar is full and the word travels fast. I got their respect early on.

It also doesn't hurt that my transportation for the night is a reconstructed Harley that sits in the parking lot. And more important, everyone thinks I belong to the Dirty Dozen motorcycle gang, and that automatically demands their respect and attention. This whole "motorcycle envy" thing really cracks me up. I own a Harley and look the part of a badass biker so I automatically get labeled a gangster. What they don't know is that the parts to my Harley came from recovered stolen motorcycles and were eventually pieced together to make the mutt of a scooter they are so impressed with. I personally don't have a clue how to hook a gas line to a carburetor or a brake line to a brake system. But my buddies do, and they put together a great ride. If it weren't for them, I would just be another bigger-than-average drunk in the bar.

As I sit on my bike, I shuffle for my phone so I can call the paged number I just got. It's a typical Arizona day ... hot as hell. The heat rises off the parking lot and up my pant legs as I sit on the bike. You begin to cook, and the smell of sweat mixed with hot booze oozes from your pores. My body odor begins to step up another notch, and people can smell me from across the parking lot.

As the phone rings on the other end of my call, I find myself wondering, what did I do to deserve the life I've chosen? We all have choices and I made this one. It doesn't seem right. I would love nothing more than to wear a good suit and shower regularly. Maybe splash on some hundred-dollar cologne and work in an air-conditioned office. That's not going to happen anytime soon though. When the only thing that loves you is a scarred and infected heroin junkie ... you're destined for a life of misery and heartache.

The person on the other end of the call answers and claims he has someone for me to meet. That someone brags of having cannibalistic cravings and needs a hired killer to kill a young boy to satisfy those cravings.

Maybe it's time to reconsider my career choice and get a real job.

CHAPTER 2

Slaying the Serpent


One of my street contacts had sent me to the back of a bowling alley near the freeway in Phoenix. I was headed there to meet the face of evil.

My source told me a man named Eric Hunter wanted to torture and kill boys and men for his sadistic plea sure and taste their body parts. Eric doesn't have the nerve to do the killing himself, so he needs a hit man. "One more thing," the middleman says. "He has a foot-long penis and likes to play with it." When Eric starts to talk about killing and his sadistic tortures, he gets aroused. As he gets aroused, he begins to touch himself and eventually removes his penis from his pants. Eric then openly plays with himself as he talks about his thoughts.

A hit man, yeah ... but entertaining a freak ... not quite what I bargained for. I'm used to getting the order to whack someone and being paid handsomely for my work. I have the hit-man job down to a science, and I'm so good at it that I haven't ever met anyone who didn't believe I am who I say I am and that I mean business. Not bad for a guy whose real job is police officer. Problem is, though, I've lost touch with that guy and have become whomever anybody wants me to be. I'm a chameleon who changes my identity so frequently that it's making me one confused guy. What I really miss is the guy I once was. That guy in a sharp suit wearing hundred-dollar-a-bottle cologne and working out of an air-conditioned office.

I didn't stay in a uniform for long when I first became a police officer. Within a couple years I was whisked off to a sting operation where I made a living undercover buying stolen property from burglars, thieves, and fences. Then came the murder-for-hire business and I was off on another venture. I began changing personalities and appearances regularly so I could appeal to an assortment of clients in need of a killer because they were too scared to do it themselves. I could be in the bar with the likes of Trigger where I looked and smelled like garbage. The next moment I was arriving as a soldier of fortune that had been contracted to kill someone and get him or her out of the client's life. Mental confusion began to permeate every pore in my body, and I questioned my identity.

Many nights I would lie awake trying to remember who I was and how I got so screwed up in my head. Then I remembered what kept me moving forward. Doing the right thing ... for the right reasons ... and for those that can't help themselves. I would finally fall back asleep and wait for the next question from my conscience. My mind ran all night long with questions and playing out the day's events. When I woke, I felt as if I had just finished a shift.

I can see it all now. I meet Eric in a hotel room to discuss his plans. My team is next door rolling video and audio for the case. Eric starts to get excited and pulls out this foot-long serpent. The boys next door capture the moment on tape, as my eyes are wide-open and awestruck. The photo then ends up in every police-precinct locker room in the state.

Not going to happen! I decided that when I met Eric, I would be carrying a ten-inch switchblade tucked away in my boot. It would make him think twice about taking his penis out in front of me.

I would always do one more thing before my deals with clients such as Eric. I'd call the foremost expert in forensic psychiatry, Dr. Steven Pitt. I would spend hours with Dr. Pitt discussing interview techniques and understanding the criminal mind. Understanding Eric was going to be much more difficult because what he wanted was so incredibly abnormal. Dr. Pitt helped me understand the mental illness associated with Eric and his cannibalistic thoughts. From our conversation I could then determine how I would approach Eric and gain his trust. Most of all Dr. Pitt gave me a sounding board for my thoughts and plans.

The meeting with Eric happened as planned on a Friday afternoon at La Quinta Inn Hotel. The boys had set up video surveillance under the direction of Sgt. Dennis "DD" Duncan. He was a soft-spoken senior detective sergeant who was loved and respected by everyone. He's a cowboy with boots, chews tobacco, and talks smooth as molasses. When DD is in charge, everything runs like clockwork.

The hotel room is dark as Eric steps inside. He's tall, built thick, and normal-looking, straight out of GQ magazine. I remember later hearing a woman say she would gladly have dated him if he would have asked. Of course, that's before she learned he was a cannibal. His regular job was as a commodities broker in Scottsdale, Arizona, and his father was a successful businessman. It was an easy life for Eric, full of spoils.

This meeting was going to be no easy task, and I knew I needed to be someone that Eric believed was more dysfunctional than he was. The only thing that came to mind was a heartless devil worshipper who killed for plea sure and made sacrificial offerings to Satan. I could go completely over-the-top with that character and maybe counter some of Eric's sadistic thoughts and plans. I had seen this character one night while I was watching a late-night television show. I also knew that when people watched television and saw a certain character, they immediately believed the character was the real deal. When they met that person in real life, they expected the same personality as the television character's. That makes it so much easier to develop yourself into someone like a Satan worshipper and be believable.

When we first met, I immediately began to speak of my affection for Satan and how I did all my killing for Satan. In a low, gravelly voice I said, "I don't know what you want, bud, but I know Satan sent me to you. I'll kill for Satan if he tells me to ... and if he tells me to do it for you ... consider it done."

With that, Eric began to talk of his "thoughts" to have people killed for his plea sure. He wanted it to be clear that he hadn't acted on it yet, just thought about it. His thoughts were so far outside of what society believes that I was shocked. He dreamed of calling a pizza delivery boy or a paperboy to his house. When the boy got there, Eric wanted to drug him with a drink and cut off his legs. Eric would laugh out loud and tell him, "Now try and make your deliveries." He wanted to find a bus loaded with schoolchildren and set the bus on fire, then he would sit back and listen to all their screams as they burned. He wanted to decapitate someone and defile the body. He would also correspond with other mass murderers and exchange recipes for body parts.

As I sat across from Eric and tried to conceal my utter shock, I had to act as if I had done things just as bad. I needed to act as if I were nuttier than this freak.

The more I listened, and the more I acted like a murdering nut myself, the madder I got at this guy. He was so twisted that I didn't know if it was safe to let him walk out of the room.

It's strange sitting in a room with someone like Eric. As he talks about his sadistic pleasures and desires, you sit back in a mental haze. It's all too much information to mentally digest, and even more difficult to tolerate. One part of my head tries to figure him out, while the other side tries to make sure I convince him that he is sitting with Satan himself. The things that come from my mouth leave me wondering where I came up with such twisted ideas. I'm almost like a closet killer myself.


(Continues...)

Excerpted from Murder for Hire by Jack Ballentine. Copyright © 2009 Jack Ballentine. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Jack Ballentine became a Phoenix police officer in 1978 and quickly rose to the top as one of the world's most successful undercover operatives. He also served as a homicide detective for the Phoenix Police Department. He is a three-time Police Officer of the Year, and has been awarded both the International Investigator of the Year and the Medal of Merit. He currently serves as the Director of Investigations for the Phoenix Fire Department. He lives in Mesa, Arizona, with his wife.


Jack Ballentine became a Phoenix police officer in 1978 and quickly rose to the top as one of the world's most successful undercover operatives. He also served as a homicide detective for the Phoenix Police Department. He is a three-time Police Officer of the Year, and has been awarded both the International Investigator of the Year and the Medal of Merit. He currently serves as the Director of Investigations for the Phoenix Fire Department. He lives in Mesa, Arizona, with his wife.

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