An Angry Oregon Grandmother Plays Undercover Cop to Save Her Daughters from a Suspected Drug Ring
updated 12/05/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST
•originally published 12/05/1988 AT 01:00 AM EST
"What?" she said, playing dumb.
"Haven't you ever watched movies where police have people wired up?" Goddard asked.
"No," said Pat, trying to steady her trembling voice.
The ruse worked. "She don't get it," Goddard said to his armed companion. When the two men took Pat to the place where they were allegedly manufacturing a brand of powdered speed known as crank, she knew her mission was all but accomplished.
Several days later, police raided the lab and arrested five suspects, nabbing Goddard soon after. Authorities found what they believe was intended to be a major drug-manufacturing operation. The key to the sting operation was Morrison herself—no veteran narc, but an outraged 44-year-old grandmother who had witnessed the destructive effects of crank on her own children. Since the recent successful bust, she has gone public in the hope of launching a new offensive in the war on drugs. "I want to get the point across to parents that you can't just sit back and take this," she says.
The notion of going undercover first occurred to Pat after she concluded that drugs had virtually enslaved her daughters, DeVonna, 24, and Tonda, 21. Divorced from her second husband in 1972, Pat had been close to her girls—both of them high school dropouts and unwed mothers. This year the young women had left their children—DeVonna's son, Justin, 6, and Tonda's daughter, Aquila, 3—in the care of Pat and her mother. DeVonna and Tonda were spending most of their time at Goddard's farm outside Dallas, a small town 20 miles west of Salem. They made no secret of the fact that they were selling crank for Goddard, to support their own habits. When Pat persuaded DeVonna to drive her out to the farm last summer, she was aghast at what she saw. The squalid five-acre spread was strewn with garbage; pit bulls and scary-looking men were on guard against unwelcome visitors, and more than a dozen of Goddard's friends, camping in tents and trailers, appeared to be shooting or snorting crank in full view.
Pat immediately contacted local police, offering to do whatever was necessary to put Goddard away. To Dallas Police Chief Jim Harper, Morrison was a godsend. Though his department had for years suspected Goddard of being involved with drugs, detectives had never been able to get evidence to make an arrest.
At first, Pat simply played the role of informant, giving police names, license-plate numbers and other scraps of information she gathered at Goddard's farm while pretending to look for her daughters. But Pat proved so good at the job that within two weeks police granted her request to act as an unpaid undercover agent for the purpose of obtaining hard evidence. First, police say, she purchased crank directly from Goddard. Then she sold him chemicals, provided by the Dallas cops, that could be used to manufacture the drug. By late September, Pat was making daily trips to the farm. She convinced just about everyone there that she was dealing drugs to raise money to buy herself some big-ticket items. In fact, luxury was far from her mind—she had lost her job as a textile worker because of an arm injury last January and was living on workmen's compensation. "I convinced them that I needed money because I wanted a snowmobile, a new car and a pink Suzuki jeep," says Pat.
Pat knew that DeVonna and Tonda were suspicious of what she was doing, but that didn't stop her. She dickered with Goddard over the price of her chemical supplies and got him to tell her more about the alleged drug operation—all of it recorded with the help of the microphone she wore under her clothing. Eventually, Pat was so successful in winning Goddard's confidence that, she says, he offered to teach her someday how to "cook" crank herself.
Finally, on Oct. 19, Morrison cut her last undercover deal. On a lonely stretch of road at Holman Wayside State Park outside Dallas, she sold a batch of chemicals to two of Goddard's alleged accomplices. "Well, I think I'll just go to Reno and forget everything else," said Pat blithely as she was handed the money. Police officers hiding in the bushes immediately seized the two men, one of whom was armed with a semiautomatic pistol. Two hours later police raided Goddard's farm, where they arrested three other people and netted a cache of weapons and chemicals. They found more evidence at two sites Morrison had identified as crank laboratories. The following day, the elusive Goddard was arrested in the parking lot of the Jackpot Market in Dallas. He has pleaded not guilty to all charges.
According to Pat, the nerve-racking work that made the sting possible was easy compared to breaking the news to her family over dinner at a steak house in Salem. Pat's son, Bennie, 23, was stunned; her mother, Dorothy, was horrified that Pat had put herself in so much danger. But DeVonna went livid with rage, screaming at Pat for her betrayal. "It was a good thing Bennie and Grandma were there," DeVonna says. "I would have jumped across the table and strangled her." That wasn't the end of Morrison's troubles: Her landlord, fearing retaliation for Pat's undercover work, asked her to move and changed the locks.
Now living in Salem, Morrison professes to have no regrets, even after her exploits brought her considerably more attention than she had bargained for. "I'm doing three things I don't like—getting my picture taken, speaking before the public and flying," she says, only half in jest. But Morrison is pleased that her message is being heard and that it has already brought some results. Inspired by her bravery, one radio listener called the Dallas police to provide information about a drug ring in Portland. "If she can do it, I can do it," he said.
Even more important, Pat has apparently repaired the damage that drugs had wreaked on her family. After a difficult week, during which neither DeVonna nor Tonda would speak to her, mother and daughters have become friends once again. "I can see a difference in their attitude," says Pat. Both women say they are off drugs now and hope soon to take responsibility for the care of their children. For Pat Morrison, that is the greatest reward of all.
—Paula Chin, and Susan Hauser in Dallas