J.T. Mullen Private Detective Website Background Image
J.T. Mullen Private Detective
J.T. Mullen Private Detective Website Background Image
J. T. Mullen Website Background Image
J.T. Mullen Website Background Image
J. T. Mullen Website Background Image
J.T. Mullen Website Background Image


J. T. Mullen Article in New York Magazine

Mullen, P.I.

New York Magazine

Joe Mullen has a tanned, wholesome face, white hair, and wintry eyes that click off the details of the room but leave his thoughts in shadow.

"A good private investigator doesn't give himself away," he told a class of would-be detectives. "But most P.I.'s couldn't find Kate Smith in a phone booth." Mullen isn't like most: In his 40 years as a shamus, he has sleuthed for Judy Garland and Johnny Carson, worked as Walter Cronkite's bodyguard, and caught insider traders for Skadden, Arps. Mullen's fee is more than $200 an hour, but his class, held by the Learning Annex, wiped the glamour from his job.

Mullen ran through some surveillance tricks: A match wedged in a door falls if the door is opened; a stick in a driveway moves if a car pulls in. On a stakeout, loose change spread outside the subject's house aids photography: "He stops to pick it up, and you get 30 more exposures." Someone asked if bribery is a useful tool.

"Bribery's like eating meat loaf from the same diner for three days," says Mullen. "It comes back to haunt you. Early on, I decided to take the high road."

At eighteen, Mullen apprenticed to three middle-aged detectives, "riding shotgun in their trunk." Almost 30 years later, Congressman John Murphy asked him to investigate three Arabs who had offered Murphy a bribe; Mullen found their safe house (no wives, kids, or food) and realized they were government agents -- but not in time to tip off Murphy, who got caught in the ABSCAM trap. "It wasn't hard to figure out who those sheiks were," he told the class.

"They all wore Flagg Brothers shoes."

Mullen's children have joined his keen-eyed profession. "When my kids turned eighteen," he said, "instead of giving them a party, I fingerprinted them and sent them out on tail work."

But he had bad news for the thrill-seekers and Chandler fans who hung on his every word. "There's nothing romantic about sitting in a car with a cold cup of coffee for ten hours," he said.

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