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Friday, March 23 Local

Bridgeport cop’s 30 years’ of stories have made 4 books

DERBY — Anyone who has been a cop for more than 30 years has stories to tell.

But being a cop for more than three decades with six different law enforcement agencies should make Michael Bouchard the life of any party.

Just talk to the Bridgeport police officer for 10 minutes and you’ll hear how he nabbed the longest active Army deserter living in the U.S., helped stop a planned gang murder and riddled a rabid woodchuck.

Or he’ll tell you why why Bigfoot and the Loch Ness monster don’t exist; that the Lindley Street poltergeist was just a young girl or about his research on the Philadelphia Experiment, Area 51 and the Roswell crash.

“I’ve done a lot more than most police officers,” said Bouchard, a 55-year old Valley native. “I’ve worked in small towns and big cities. I’ve been on the street, in schools, out in the woods and on the water... Everywhere I’ve been, I’ve learned something.”

Much of his experience and many of his stories have been put in print. Bouchard is the author of four books with a fifth on the way.

For a man who has worked for the Shelton police department auxiliary, the Lake Housatonic Marine auxiliary and the Regional Water Authority, as a state game warden and in the Bridgeport Police Department as Park police, a School Resource officer and now at the information booth in the Margaret Morton Government Center, Bouchard remains a man of action.

“It’s not as fast paced as I would like,” he said of his current post. “But in today’s society, you have to be a little more on guard than you did 10 years ago. Here it’s important to interact with people.”

While Bouchard loves writing, the research interests him at least as much.

“The older cases are more interesting,” he said. “You have less to go on. You have to dig deeper and you have to think outside the box.

“I was always interested in science, always interested in research,” said the author/cop whose self-published books are available through Amazon. “What happens is you get addicted to it. I think everybody is capable of writing a book.”

Book number five will be about 105 missing people in Connecticut, including one man he found living in New York. It’s due out mid-summer. Among the cases: a cluster of eight missing girls in the Vernon-Tolland area.

He plans to plot selected cases on a map to see if there are geographical similarities. He admits he isn’t out to solve cases.

“What I will do is provide information that may help solve cases,” he said. “Most officers are interested in chasing criminals, my interest is in tracking them. The one difference between tracking people compared to hunting animals is the mere fact that animals are much smarter.”

What Bouchard hopes to do is bring closure to some families, he said. It was one reason he began writing in the first place.

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His first book, “Forever Searching: Missing in the Smoky Mountains,” the story of the 1969 cold case file of 6-year-old Dennis Lloyd, was hatched by emails from a friend.

Bouchard obtained numerous reports, interviewed living witnesses and came to the belief the boy may have been abducted, got away and became lost and possibly injured before dying. A claim that skeletal remains of a young boy were found a few years later in the area Bouchard had pinpointed was never investigated.

“As a School resource officer, I got a lot of missing kids, mostly runaways,” he said. “Fortunately within a few days, most are found. I would notice the fear and panic in the parents’ eyes. Think about it — your kid goes missing for a few minutes and the anxiety you feel. Imagine if your kid goes missing and is never found.”

His second book, “So You Want to Be A Cop,” includes 36 of his strangest police cases.

Like discovering James Gilbert Carmona during a 2004 minor traffic stop. Carmona had been AWOL since leaving a California Army base in January 1970.

Carmona was driving a car with no front plate and the back plate of another car when Bouchard stopped him. His wallet contained ID for Jesus Gonzalez and both a California and a Massachusetts license and two Social Security cards.

He was eventually identified as James Carmona.

“He said he was married for 18 years and his wife didn’t know his real name,” Bouchard said.

“So I gave him a summons for the motor vehicle violation, advised him that the military police would get him, but more importantly told him: You can thank me for one thing. After 34 years I gave you back your real name.”

“It closed the book on the longest active deserter in the U.S.,” Bouchard said.

Another of Bouchard’s stories: While working as a game warden, Bouchard was called to Wallingford on report of a rabid woodchuck caught inside a box.

“The front yard was huge... the lawn looked like someone cut it with a pair of scissors it was so neat,” Bouchard recalled.

As he opened the box the animal leaped out “frothing at the mouth.”

His first two shots didn’t stop it “so I put down a line of fire that looked like strafing from a machine gun. Chunks of lawn went flying,” Bouchard said.

As he walked away with the dead animal, he saw the homeowner on his hands and knees trying to put the plugs of grass back in.

“Well I hoped he washed his hands... or he might start foaming from the mouth and scratching for flees,” Bouchard wrote.

Then there was the day in Seaside Park when Bouchard’s stomach started churning from a greasy cheeseburger he ate forcing him to pull over. His radar unit started humming as a car sped by.

He stopped the car and asked the unlicensed driver for the keys.

“Officer — I have to ask you a serious question. Why is your gun pointed at me?” the driver asked.

“I said: I have to ask you a serious question. Why is there an AK-47 and a ski mask on the back seat?”

At that point the driver punched his passenger in the face and said: “ I told you to hide that....in the trunk.”

A search uncovered the AK-47, a sawed off shotgun, two semi-automatic handguns, a MAC-10, two ski masks, a bullet-proof vest and marijuana. He said the pair were recruited to shoot a rival gang member, his family and the police officer guarding them.

“All because of a greasy cheeseburger,” he said. “That would have made a hell of a headline.”

Then there was 966 Lindley St. — the home of the legendary 1974 poltergeist that brought out crowds, ghost busters and an exorcist.

Bouchard believes it was a hoax confessed to by the family’s adopted daughter.

Still a day after a snowstorm, he found himself driving by the house and spotting an elderly woman in a pink housecoat sitting on the porch. After driving again he stopped to talk to her.

“I knew you were coming,” he recalled her saying.

“So I asked her if she was calling about the snow,” he said.

She again said, “I knew you were coming” and “very bad things happened here.”

“So that’s one time too many,” Bouchard said. “I know I’m leaving.”

He found no police calls for the house “so how did she know I was coming?”

Bouchard also is a practicing archaeologist and anthropologist who has written extensive reports on excavations and discoveries at the Trap Falls Reservoir in Shelton and Mildord’s Baldwin Station site along the north shore of the Housatonic River.

His third book, “Paleo Project: A Review and Interpretation of Paleo-Indian Site Distribution Patterns in Connecticut,” leans heavily on his own research.

His fourth book, “My Abstract Thoughts: Life Quotes and Creatures of Folklore Fact or Fiction,” is exactly what it says it’s about