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January 26, 1990 - Image 24

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1990-01-26

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What's A Nice
Girl Like You
Doing In A Jo
Like This?

Welcome to the offices of a detective,
a mounted policewoman
and an Aikido instructor.

Lisa Konikow4. "Aikido is not competitive, not a sport. It's a discipline."




Special to The Jewish News

atti Davis leads
two lives that
couldn't be fur-
ter apart.
There's the Pat-
ti Davis who teaches Hebrew
school at Temple Kol Ami and
lights the Sabbath candles
each Friday with her hus-
band and son.
But the rest of the week,
mitzvahs give way to may-
hem for Patti Davis, Private
"Welcome to my night-
mare," Davis says, seated at
her desk in the wood-paneled
Birmingham office that
houses her agency, the In-
vestigative Group.
With her dangly earrings
and a gold blouse — Davis
doesn't quite look like Mike
Hammer or Sam Spade. But
when she starts talking, it's
apparent Davis is very much
at home on the turf of the
tough guys.
Funny, blunt and decidedly
un-demure, Davis describes
her various capers in lan-
guage that is part cop, part
deadpan comic. Here's Davis
describing a car chase:
"We're following a guy
who's driving like a maniac.
We've got to keep up with
him. If he's doing 80 on the
Lodge, we've got to be doing
80. I can't be like grandpa,
five cars back driving 20, or
we're going to lose him. And
they don't hire us to lose
Davis' job isn't all high-
speed derring-do. She de-
scribes herself as a fact finder.
Many of her cases involve
divorce investigations. It's not
a pretty business. She out-
lines a hypothetical situation:
Davis' teary-eyed client ar-
rives bearing a sack of suspi-
cions and telltale signs —
among which is a phone bill
indicating her mate has
taken too literally the invita-
tion to "reach out and touch
Davis goes to work. Surveil-
lance vans roll. Video camer-
as whir. The suspected phi-
landerer is now a followed
What she is looking for,
Davis says, is not the so-called
sleazy snapshot. The judges
aren't interested in that.
What she wants is a picture
of this married man out to
dinner with his paramour, or
perhaps, holding hands with
her in a hotel lobby.
"Mostly we use the pictures
as negative leverage for
financial settlement," Davis
says. In front of the judge, the
husband tells one story; the
pictures tell another. When it
comes time to slice up the
marital property, perjurers
lose pie.

In addition to stalking
straying spouses, Davis
tracks down would-be
perpetrators of insurance
fraud. A typical case might
involve an employee of a car
company seeking a huge set-
tlement based on an alleged
on-the-job injury.
"We go out and we want to
prove that the guy is able to
do what he claims he's not
able to, do. You look at the
pleadings. He falls off a little
ladder. All of a sudden he
can't work; he can't walk; he
can't go shopping, he's got a
"We talk to his neighbors.
They might say, "Walker?
What walker? He's the head
of the Little League baseball.'
Neighbors are great."
Davis' work brings her in-
to contact with parents who
kidnap their children in bit-
ter custody battles and scam
artists on the run. Hardly a
Sunday school world. How did
she come to choose it?
Davis great up in Oak Park,
attending Berkley and Oak
Park high schools. As she por-
trays it, hers was a checkered
"I had a lot of problems as
a kid. My mother had grey
hair at 40 — I mean grey-grey
— from me, I'm sure!"
Despite her assorted mis-
adventures, Davis managed
to complete 13 years of He-
brew school education. When
she was 14, her father died
and Davis moved with her
mother to Florida. Returning
to Michigan when she was 19,
Davis found emptoyment
with various Hebrew schools.
An early marriage that
ended in divorce produced
Davis' son, now nine. At the
end of 1982, in the midst of
personal turmoil, Davis hap-
pened to retain the services of
a private investigator. She
was intrigued by what she
The detective-for-hire com-
manded hefty fees for work
that Davis felt she could do.
And, Davis says, she saw an
opportunity to put the ex-
perience and instincts from
her bad old days to legitimate
"I started making phone
calls to detective agencies to
see what I had to do, whether
they'd hire somebody off the
street. I mean, what does a
Jewish girl know about being
a detective? But I've always
been very outspoken, very
Investigative Associates, an
Ann Arbor agency, hired her,
trained her and put her to
"They saw my talent,"
Davis says with a smile.
"You have to have a disarm-
ing personality. You have to
be able to talk to all different
kinds of people in all facets of

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