Private Eyes on the PalisadesApr 28, 2011
Tucked away in an inconspicuous office on the second story of a Hollywood apartment building, Amy Doerner picks up the phone. One of the men in the field has a lead on a runaway. Sometimes the calls are about cheating spouses and other times murder victims.
Doerner shouts to her boss in the next room to pick up the phone.
Business is booming at private detective firm Hover View Investigations.
“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,” lead investigator Eric Agaki said.
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 says. Hover’s main office is in Hollywood because that’s close enough to Los Angeles County Jail, but not too far from most of its 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.
Agaki answers the runaway call. To the right of his desk, a display case holds various sharp-edged weapons and his office wall has as many certificates hanging on it as there are autographed pictures of celebrities on Doerner’s. One reads, “certified anti-terrorism specialist” and another, “member of the National Council of Investigation and Security Services.”
The runaway in question is a 21-year-old female with some mental issues, Agaki says.
“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 tells him to go door-to-door using a bogus excuse to try to find the room she is staying in.
With runaway cases, Agaki explains, 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 says.
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,” said Agaki. “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 says.
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 tells 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 reports. Agaki tells him to follow that trail.
“We are getting closer,” Agaki says as he hangs up. “We’re getting closer.”