Private Eyes on HollywoodApr 30, 2011
Tucked away in an inconspicuous office on the second story of a Hollywood apartment building, Amy Doerner picked up the phone. One of the men in the field had a lead on a runaway. Sometimes the calls are about cheating spouses and other times murder victims.
On a recent visit to the private detective firm Hover View Investigations, it's apparent that business is booming.
Doerner shouted to her boss to pick up the phone.
“By the time people come to us we are the only ones they have left to come to. . . . We are the only ones they can trust,” said lead investigator Eric Agaki.
Hover’s cases come from all over the Los Angeles area but most are from Pacific Palisades, Malibu, Brentwood and Beverly Hills—wherever the money and divorces are, managing investigator Doerner said.
Hover’s main office is in Hollywood because it's close enough to the Los Angeles County Jail, but not too far from most of their clients’ neighborhoods. Plus, a lot of runaways end up in Hollywood.
The firm recently expanded its services to Agoura Hills, Doerner’s hometown, and Thousand Oaks to meet the demand in the area for divorce and infidelity detective work.
In the next room, Agaki answered the runaway call. To the right of his desk, a display case holds various sharp-edged weapons and hanging on his office wall are as many certificates as there are autographed celebrity pictures on Doerner’s. One certificate read, “certified anti-terrorism specialist” and another, “member of the National Council of Investigation and Security Services.”
The runaway in question was a 21-year-old female with some mental issues, Agaki said.
“She is an adult so the police aren’t helping. . . . She is 21 going on 12, mentally slow,” he said. “The client is the family.”
His man has tracked the missing woman to a motel in Venice. Agaki told him to go door-to-door using a bogus excuse to try to find the room she is staying in.
With runaway cases, Agaki explained, there is a lot of sex trafficking or situations where one person, usually a “boyfriend,” takes advantage of the female. Agaki remembers one time finding a runaway living with a man who is known for pornography and pimping.
“She didn’t want to go back to her mom, but I had to convince her to get away from that guy,” he said. Agaki often plays the role of detective, therapist and counselor, he said.
Not all of his cases have happy endings. Agaki recalled one particular missing person case involving a 25-year-old man. His family had contacted the detective agency after he failed to return home from an outing with some friends.
It turns out he was “murdered by his best friend,” Agaki said. “He lent his best friend money and was stressing out because he needed it to go back to school and was pushing his friend to pay him back. His best friend stabbed him over 15 times.” The friend had owed him less than $1,000.
Every year, Hover View Investigations gets around 500 to 600 cases that deal with cheating spouses, Agaki said.
“We get a variety of cases, but our bread and butter is usually cheaters,” he said. “By the time a female calls here and wants us to investigate . . . they are usually right 95 percent of the time. . . . For males, it’s about 80 percent.”
In addition to the infidelity and runaway cases, the firm’s work also includes serving court papers and foiling con artists’ schemes, Agaki said.
The veteran detective was born in Israel and came to the U.S. at 12. One of the reasons his mother left Israel was to prevent him from joining the army, he said.
“She knew that I would go into the military and stay there,” Agaki said. “As a child, I always wanted to be a cowboy and I always loved guns.”
The private eye went through a slew of different ventures before enrolling at Nick Harris’ Detective Academy in Van Nuys. He graduated in 2004 at the top of his class and before long he was working for multiple agencies and eventually went into business for himself.
Back in Hollywood, Agaki’s phone rings again. It’s the guy in the field with more information on the runaway. The woman was definitely at the motel, the investigator told his boss, but “she is gone now.”
She left some papers in her room with some information indicating an interest in renting a place in Venice, the investigator reported. Agaki told him to follow thetrail.
“We are getting closer,” Agaki said as he hungs up. “We’re getting closer.”