Stepping From the Shadows

Private eye Max Caulfield's mysterious past includes a stint in the federal Witness Protection Program. After more than a decade of intrigue and paranoia, he's going public.

Mathews hired Caulfield, and they soon were a duo, working numerous jobs together, one of the more notable being an attempt in 1995 to serve a subpoena on reclusive millionaire Sara Habie, mother of Joey Habie, a textile magnate living in Guatemala who had kidnapped his own children.

While conducting surveillance for that job, Caulfield says he walked up to Mathews' car in the posh and exclusive Palm Beach County town of Gulf Stream, where Sara Habie lived. He noticed Mathews furtively tossing some kind of glass object into the ashtray. He saw a puff of white smoke.

Caulfield demanded to know what was going on. Mathews told him he had a problem. It was his crack pipe, he said.

Caulfield says he told Mathews that if he wanted to be a "drug addict, please die quickly and leave us all out of it. If you want help, we're here."

Mathews didn't take to help. Instead he took to stalking his ex-wife and former partner in the agency, Shari Mathews. Fearing for her life, she'd already filed an injunction for protection against him. He was breaking the court order but avoiding the police.

Caulfield went where law enforcement didn't. He kept an eye on her and escorted her to work. He and Christine also kept an eye on Scott Mathews, who was now so addled by drugs and mental problems that he was calling other women -- Christine among them -- "Shari." They helped Shari Mathews for weeks and were paid a grand total of $300 for expenses.

He says it was the memory of Calkins that drove him to do it.
"I'd been down this road before, and I wasn't about to go down it again," he says.

Caulfield helped bring the police into it, and on July 19, 1996, Scott Mathews was charged with aggravated stalking. Plantation police Lt. Larry Massey wrote a letter on Caulfield's behalf, crediting him with protecting Shari Mathews and ensuring her ex-husband's arrest, ending it with this line: "I thank him for his assistance in bringing successful closure to this investigation."

The arrest was more a beginning than an end.
Mathews was released and put into a residential drug-treatment program. One condition was that he have no contact with Shari Mathews. It didn't take him long to violate that order, and on December 16 he was arrested for doing so. A month later at a court hearing, Shari Mathews told Judge Geoffrey D. Cohen why she wanted him either "banned" from the state of Florida or imprisoned.

"I'm afraid to leave my home," she told the judge. "I get escorted to work and live like a prisoner."

Despite her pleas, Scott Mathews was released again. He'd now gone from a prospering private eye to a kitchen helper at his new home, the Salvation Army. His own attorney attributed Mathews' downfall to drugs and bipolar disorder and at one time argued he was insane. Mathews was rearrested, released, and arrested yet again.

"I couldn't believe they kept letting this guy out," Caulfield says. "I was more frustrated with that than I was with fucking Mathews."

Finally, last July, Mathews was sentenced to state prison. He's now in the middle of a two-year term.

Shari Mathews says Caulfield was with her every step of the way, there to protect her when police couldn't.

"He gave me emotional support, too," she said in a phone conversation from an undisclosed location. She's still in fear.

"That was the greatest thing he did for me. He stayed close by. He was my backup. What he does comes from the heart. If he doesn't believe in it, he won't do it. If he does believe in it, he'll do it, whether he gets money for it or not."

But at the same time he was engaged in these heroics, Filauro was accusing him of stealing the cell phone.

Caulfield lost his license after he failed to respond to the complaint within the time allotted by the state. At one point Filauro withdrew his complaint, but he says he still doesn't want Caulfield working in the state of Florida.

When told that Caulfield says he has proof the cell phone was his, Filauro, who is 47 years old and came into the PI game at the age of 40, says, "I don't think so, not that I know of, anyway.

"He never paid me back money he owed me, and I don't think that's very good ethics," he continues. "He likes to intimidate people, but as far as I'm concerned, he's nothing but a punk."

Caulfield, ever the master of the art of the grudge, says Filauro is next on his list. He says though he failed to pay in money, he more than compensated Filauro in the expertise he showed him and equipment he let him use.

"Rick doesn't know shit from shinola, in PI work or anything else," Caulfield says.

The only thing he owes Filauro now is a "fast hollow-point in his forehead and another one in the chest." That's a joke, he says, scary as it sounds. It's not a joke when he says he plans to ruin Filauro's life. Caulfield has a fresh vendetta.

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