A Former Marine Uses His Smarts To Find Woman’s Stolen Dog Held For Money

Published: Oct 24, 2023

Nobody wants to see their loved pet lost, especially if it is known to be taken by someone with ill intentions. This is a story about a dognapping. A small, cute Yorkshire terrier was grabbed right from the front of his house.

Fortunately for the little puppy, an ex-marine stepped in and used his military training to track down the wrongdoers. You won’t believe the lengths he went to in order to succeed.

Ex-Marine Rick Machamer

A man with a big heart, Rick Machamer is a decorated marine soldier who helped track down members of al-Qaeda in Iraq. He played a crucial part in tracking down the famous terrorist organization on the ground.

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The intelligence operator used the most high-tech equipment during his service in various missions. The work he has done will always be of the utmost value. His experience and years of training came in handy in the most unexpected situations.

Doggy Disappearance

Avery, a small but mighty Yorkshire Terrier, was stolen from the front doorstep of a Maryland home of one Raquel Witherspoon. Raquel, who had only recently adopted Avery, was devastated when she discovered that her beloved pet had been stolen. 

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Source: Twitter

She could see on her front porch camera how two individuals, one with very bright red hair, snatched the helpless little pup. Raquel was determined to get her sweetheart back home, but she did not know how. Luckily the events really turned her way, as most people do not recover their loved pets after a dognapping.

Emotional Support Dog

The saddest part of the story we’ve not even heard yet. Avery was not just your normal pet that you keep around the house and make your best friend. She is so much more than that, as she is special to someone in a different way.

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She is there to offer emotional backup for someone that needs it. This is the kind of dog that can feel when you need support most and offer you the comfort that nobody else can give.

Dognapper Demands

She was the dog of Witherspoon’s 12-year-old daughter, Semaj. Semaj really needed her dog to soothe her emotional needs, but she was instead left alone with a very harsh image and message.

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Source: Getty Images

The mom, Raquel Witherspoon, received an infuriating message on her phone. She read that in order to get the loved terrier back, she would need to pay $1200. And this was not all–in the text message, there was an image that made her desperate.

Plea to Mainstream

In the image Raquel received, the dog was sitting in a small cage, looking frightened. She knew she needed to do whatever was necessary to get the dog back, no matter the cost.

Source: WJLA/ABC7

Even though she reported the incident to the police, she was informed that it would take a week before they could start investigating the case. As a result, she decided to reach out to the local media to bring attention to the fact that the dog was not just a pet but an emotional support companion for her daughter.

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Machamer Learns of the Dognapping

As our expert in finding terrorists, the ex-marine Machamer was watching the news; he saw something that moved him to his core. He would have never expected to feel this way in his post-military life, but as he saw this, he felt ready for action.

Source: Getty Images

He saw the picture with poor little Avery in her cage. He imagined she was probably cold by the looks of it and the look in her eyes was heartbreaking. How could someone do something like that? This meant war for him.

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Love for his own Pooches

Machamer, the owner of a Norwegian elkhound and a Pomeranian, was deeply worried about the idea of his beloved pets being stolen. He, therefore, reached out to the family to express his worries and seek to support them in finding their furry companion.

Source: Getty Images

He had only one thought that made him act, as he said to The Washington Post, “I couldn’t fathom my reaction if someone took one of my dogs, especially if they sent a picture of one in a cage.”

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An Offer to Help

When Witherspoon reached out for help locating her missing dog, Avery, Machamer quickly offered assistance. Recognizing the emotional distress that the loss of a beloved pet can have, he was eager to use his professional skills and resources to assist in the search for Avery. 

Source: Getty Images

Witherspoon gratefully accepted his help, and he set out to track down the missing pup. Although Avery had been dognapped in June, Machamer’s involvement in the rescue mission came later.

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Corporate Intelligence Firm

Machamer, the owner of a corporate intelligence company that specializes in conducting opposition research for political campaigns, initially utilized the resources that he had to track down the phone number of the individual who had taken the little Yorkie. 

Source: whiskeyactual/Instagram

This included utilizing his large network of contacts, as well as making the most of the advanced technology and the knowledge he had about research methods to gather information on the suspected dognapper. Through this process, Machamer was determined to use his professional expertise to secure the safe return of the furry companion.

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Military Days

He was presented in the media as what he really was, a very tough guy that has been on missions to hunt down the most dangerous and notorious of criminals. He had been in the tracking game more than anybody else available to help rescue Avery.

Source: Getty Images

He had military training with the best equipment in the most extreme situations. He knew a life and death situation when he saw one. And maybe this made him feel responsible for finding the missing dog.

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Tracking Skills

To go further into detail–what he was best at was gathering information and using it in order to find something or someone. He had experience using techniques that most trained people do not even know exist.

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That’s why he was running a successful company that dug into information regarding politics. And even more, that is how he found notorious al-Qaeda members in Iraq–by being meticulous and using everything he was given, down to the last detail.

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The Search Begins

One of the first steps he took was to run the suspect’s phone number through an online database to uncover any relevant information. Additionally, he employed specialized software to extract geolocation data from the video footage of Avery in her cage, but unfortunately, these efforts did not yield any valuable leads.

Source: Twitter

Determined to find the perpetrator, Machamer also turned to more unconventional methods. He combed through customer reviews of local salons near Witherspoon’s home in the hopes of identifying the suspect due to her distinctive dyed red hair that could be clearly seen on the door cam video.

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Social Media Breakthrough

No success at any of the salons either, so Machamer decided to take a different approach. Instagram is a place where almost everybody can be found, so maybe it could be the place where the mysterious red-haired person would be discovered.

Source: Facebook/Raquel Witherspoon

The number of the dognapper was run through Machamer’s Instagram account, and there was a slight hope that something would be found. Eureka! A lead was found linking the criminal to a body piercing business near the home of the kidnapped dog.

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Building Evidence

Finally! There was a concrete link between the camera footage of the people stealing the dog and an actual person. Most people would say that the evidence was crystal clear, but was this enough to take down this dognapper?

Source: Twitter

A lot of people have red dyed hair and could have come from further away. Machamer knew this would never sit in court as there was not enough evidence. What else could he do? Where else could he go to find the missing puzzle piece?

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The Final Proof

A lucky break came in the form of a helpful anonymous tip. Witherspoon received a tip that the evidence that the ex-marine had uncovered regarding the address of the suspected thief was, in fact, correct.

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Witherspoon and Machamer believed this was a trustworthy source and that they finally had enough proof to go to the authorities with their findings. The pair hoped it would be enough for the police to take action.

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Police Step in

The sad truth is that most stolen dogs are never recovered, even with police intervention. But with Machamer’s rare expertise in tracking, Avery became the exception to the rule. All of the evidence gathered thus far was finally enough to get in touch with the authorities, asking them to step in and fetch the pup.

Source: Getty Images 

After the information was given to the police, officers had enough substantial evidence to step in and take control of the situation. Two days later, a Prince George’s County Police detective went to the residence and retrieved Avery. 

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Bringing Avery Home

The heartbreaking separation was finally over! Avery the Yorkie was on her way home back into the loving arms of Witherspoon and her daughter Semaj. Avery would soon be back to doing what she does best–being the best little emotional support dog she can be!

Source: Twitter/Brad7News

When Semaj learned her pup had been rescued, she exclaimed, “They got him back!” The young girl also said, “I didn’t want to face the reality of not seeing my dog again.” Their family was complete again.

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Teenage Dog Thief 

Strangely enough, it was a 16-year-old girl who was held responsible for Avery’s dognapping. She was formally charged with theft for stealing Witherspoon’s beloved dog as well as subsequently attempting extortion for the pet’s return.

Source: Getty Images

These were heavy charges for a teenager, and the young girl did not contest them. She chose to take responsibility for her active involvement in the theft and plead guilty before the trial could even begin–perhaps seeing the error of her ways and hoping for leniency as a minor.

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Dognapping on the Rise

Dognapping has been on the rise in recent years across the US. This can happen for a variety of reasons, such as reselling the dog, holding it for ransom, or using the dog for breeding. Dognapping can be a traumatic experience for both the dog and the owner, and pet owners have taken precautions lately to protect their furry friends. 

Source: Getty Images

Such precautions include microchipping dogs, putting tags on their collars, and being cautious when letting them off-leash. Breeds that are most susceptible to dognapping include French bulldogs, German shepherds, Yorkshire terriers, and Labrador retrievers. 

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