"Well, let me tell you - after the fiasco with Nick Papps with the Australian News Agency (who I contacted first about the hat and he reported it and failed to mention that I, as a journalist was the one to find it) and then with Extra TV-- who I called second and they sent John Nazarian down after the fact and then made it look like he found it because of his famous abilities-- I am a little more than gunshy about working with anyone else. Our primary and only reason for contacting anyone was to get the hat up to the US for DNA testing...
"We are almost 100% sure that the hat belongs to Patrick. At this point I am directly in contact with the Coast Guard chief investigator on this case…"
That email, which hit our office this morning, indicates that a small-town reporter, not big-city journos and sleuths, is the one who picked up the Tabloid Baby torch and shed new light on the Patrick McDermott case!
Kathy Aviles runs El Mirador, the local news magazine of Todos Santos, Baja Mexico, the place where, Tabloid Baby reported back in March that Olivia Newton-John’s presumed-dead boyfriend, Patrick McDermott, had been seen alive. Like many an intrepid small-town reporter who goes a step beyond her jaded high-paid rivals, she brought the story to a new level-- and is seeing the scoop of a lifetime snatched from her hands!
The McDermott case leapt back into the headlines this month when Aussie journo Nick Papps followed our lead and splashed the news that Patrick McDermott had been sighted in and around the remote Baja town of Todos Santos. Others jumped on the bandwagon, most notably the American celebutainment TV show Extra, which claimed to have sent a big time Hollywood P.I. who sniffed out even more “exclusive” evidence.
Turns out, that evidence was handed to Extra’s shamus (see the photo above) by a small-town, big-talent reporter.
The story-behind-the-story is fascinating— made for the movies— and it took place in the same town where Tabloid Baby’s own barefoot beachcombing operatives were tracking down their own McDermott clues.
Kathy details her sleuthing on her webpage, and shows how her work was scooped by the biggies:
June 8, 2006 3:15 pm : After spending about a month of investigating the disappearance of Patrick McDermott, I just returned from the small village of Pescadero where I spoke with Marina Mejia Carranza of Marinas Café... I showed her and her son, Eduardo photos of Patrick McDermott and Marina said she was 80% sure it was him, whereas her son said he was 100% sure that he ate at their establishment sometime during the first week of May. Marina says she remembers him because he really loved her fish tacos and also that he forgot his hat. She then walked over and picked up the hat from the corner of a cabinet where she had put it. I don't think anyone has thought to check with her because she does not speak English, but luckily I do speak Spanish.
Patrick was with a woman who she estimated to be around 35 and his hair was pulled back into a ponytail. She said the woman had blonde hair which goes along with the other reported sightings…
June 8th, 2006 5:00 pm: I returned to the Cafe and took pictures of Marina at the request of Nick Papps with the Australian News Agency (I had contacted him first because he was the only person from the US that I had direct contact with through a cell phone).
June 9th, 2006 7:50 am: I returned to the cafe this morning... 4 people have recognized him and positively identified him. I made a call to Extra TV to let them know that I had the hat and to see if they could help in getting it up to the US for DNA testing. They told me that they would be sending a Private Investigator...
Saturday June 10th: I met with the famous private investigator, John Nazarian and his son, Mike today. I am really glad that Extra sent him down here last night…
Saturday June 17th: This is an open letter to John Nazarian: Dear John (wow, my first ever "dear John" letter)... I want to thank you for making sure the suspected hat of Patrick McDermott's got up to the US and I also want to thank you from the bottom of my heart for taking all the credit for finding the hat. I am sure it was due to your instinct that I may not be able to handle the pressure of having the whole world know that it was due to me and my investigative work that the hat was ever found…
There’s plenty more at the El Mirador website.
Tabloid Baby will keep in contact with Kathy Aviles and her network of Baja eyes. We'll keep you updated-- and give credit where credit is due!
Our team got its start in small town papers. We've broken some major stories of our own-- and seen more than a few competitors take credit. And readers of Tabloid Baby know that telling the true story of how a case like this was broken-- the story of a small town reporter with bigtime instincts-- is an even greater story than grandtstanding in the Geraldo tradition. A tip of the Tabloid Baby hat to Kathy Aviles.
(Tabloid Baby has been on the road the past week and we're back with some major stories. Stay tuned...)