An MIT police detective's personal persistence and pride in her profession paid off when information she had gathered about stolen checks on campus led to the arrest of a man sought by the Boston Police Youth Violence Task Force for escaping from Roxbury District Court.
The dramatic story of three men escaping from their handcuffs and shackles and disappearing from the Roxbury courthouse broke on TV news on Tuesday, Aug. 2.
That very morning, Detective Kimberly Utley-Rivers, 36, put months of her own research into networking with the Boston Police task force to help track down one of the escapees.
On her way to work at MIT that day, Rivers "happened to go back in the house to turn off the television and heard Fox News mention the escaped man's name," she said.
Rivers was familiar with Benjamin Clay Jr.'s name from her caseload, and she knew his face as one she had observed on surveillance videotapes from many area stores. He was suspected of "shopping" using stolen checks and credit cards, including those belonging to MIT employees.
When she got to MIT, she immediately informed her lieutenant of the connection.
MIT Police Lt. Al Pierce commended Rivers for her "dedication and professionalism. As commander of the Special Service Section, Detective Unit, I extend my congratulations to Detective Rivers for her outstanding investigative skills and commitment to the MIT community."
Within minutes of getting to campus police headquarters, Rivers moved into high gear. With her surveillance tapes, a DVD and a 3-inch-thick file of information that no one else had, Rivers collaborated with the Boston Police special operations team in the multi-agency search.
"It's about collaboration. We all work together. Kim had tremendous amounts of facts on this guy--addresses, cars, girlfriend--the Boston police were impressed. I've been in law enforcement for 27 years, and I can say most seasoned investigators would be envious of such a detailed file. Her information saved valuable man hours in researching Clay's criminal history," Pierce said.
On the morning of Thursday, Aug. 4, Rivers met with members of the Boston Police Youth Violence Task Force, a group that includes personnel from the Boston and state police forces, the Boston Housing Police, the Department of Youth Services, Suffolk County sheriffs as well as U.S. marshals and personnel from Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms (ATF).
Using addresses from Rivers' file, the task force began its search for the 36-year-old Dorchester man early Thursday, proceeding from the home of one of Clay's relatives (located thanks to Rivers) to a hospital maternity ward, where the suspect's girlfriend had given birth to twins.
As the person considered most likely to identify Clay quickly, Rivers was assigned to point him out to members of the task force when he arrived. Clay was caught outside in the Longwood medical area.
"Clay's picture from the newspaper was cleaner cut," Rivers said. "Although he was more rugged in person, it was definitely the same man."
Rivers was eager to share credit, emphasizing she is part of a great team: the MIT Police Department. "I did not do this alone. I constantly went to the officers, my lieutenant and the other detectives in my unit with questions when I needed assistance. I had a lot of valuable people and resources behind me."
Rivers solved one more mystery later that day. During questioning, she noticed Clay was sporting an MIT "brass rat," a hefty gold ring with a beaver on the top and the year 2004 on the side. It turned out the ring was stolen in December 2004; its owner has been contacted.
Clay is currently being held in Suffolk County jail on $50,000 cash bail. He is wanted by seven different courts on felony charges, including identity theft and forgery. Of the two other men who escaped on Aug. 1, one has been caught and another was still at large as recently as Tuesday, Aug. 9, according to published reports.
Rivers began work in 1996 as a Boston special police officer before coming to MIT in 2002.
Her father, uncle and cousin are Boston police officers. Rivers is the first female in her family to make the commitment to police work.
"I originally wanted to be an obstetrician. But while I was in college, my father kept saying, 'Kim, take the test for the Boston Police Department! Take the test!' I finally did take the civil service exam. I did eventually follow in my father's footsteps and fell in love with law enforcement," Rivers said.
To reach the MIT campus police please call 617-253-1212 or go to http://web.mit.edu/cp/www/.