When you first look at Bill Dear, sitting behind his typical executive size mahogany desk, you might well mistake him for any average Dallas businessman.
It’s only when your eyes travel up the richly paneled wall behind him, to the machine gun and sawed-off automatic rifle hanging over a hand-tooled leather holster containing a .45 caliber automatic, that you first start to suspect that this is not your everyday, run-of-the-mill business type.
With a three hundred dollar custom-made suit hanging on his six-foot-four frame, and accessories that include a massive silver belt buckle, ornate turquoise rings and expensive hand-tooled leather boots, Dear makes quite an impressive sight. Just the sort of guy you might expect central casting to send down for the lead in a contemporary western movie.
Dear, who claims to be one of the highest paid private eyes in the country, tools around town in a 1977 Mark V Lincoln Continental complete with two-way radio, telephone and radar detector. At one time or another, he has owned a helicopter, an airplane, and a ranch. "I had a real James Bond setup for a while, with electric eye gates, private helicopter pad and all. Then we had a big fire and it wiped out everything, including the most fabulous limousine you’ve ever seen. That thing had a television set, a bar, two automatic gunracks, the whole works."
But despite the high-roller image that Dear strives to maintain, he’s very practical about what he delivers to his clients. "When I put something in a report, my clients know it’s the truth and nothing but the truth. Nobody likes surprises in a courtroom."
Despite an impressive collection of personal firepower, Dear cannot legally carry a concealed weapon. He brushes that aside with "It’s better to be judged by 12 men than carried by six."
Dear is licensed by the Texas Board of Private Investigators and Private Security Agencies, but he describes the license as "not worth the paper it’s printed on. When I started out, 15 years ago, it was a lot different. You had to be licensed by the City of Dallas and they were really tough. You had to know your business and have some background. If you had a Dallas license it was good any place, everybody respected it. Nowadays any clown can take the test and be licensed."
There’s little doubt that Dear stretches the truth when he relates some of his capers. But the basic facts are true, embellished a bit, perhaps, with a little Texas-size ego.
"Actually, we do a little of everything. In accident cases we reconstruct the whole sequence of events, revisit the scene, take measurements, locate witnesses, have maps drawn, take photos of the surrounding area, even photograph the vehicles themselves, if they haven’t been repaired before we get into the act. We handle some divorce cases, mostly in child custody situations and occasionally have to kidnap a child from a parent other than the one who has legal custody. Recently we’ve been involved in a lot of cases of runaways from well-to-do families - kids who join these far-out religious sects. I also act as personal bodyguard for one of the wealthiest industrialists in the world. I’ve traveled all over for him. I keep my passport and air travel card with me at all times. I never know where I’m liable to end up. I keep a small bag packed in the trunk of my car ready to go on short notice. That’s one of the features we stress to our clients, we’re very flexible."
Dear had a brief and unsuccessful fling at politics when he ran for Sheriff of Dallas County. He’s already working on plans to run again in 1980, this time with much more serious campaigning and some very heavy financial backing.
Dear has recently melded his agency with Clarence Jones, the man who beat him for the County Sheriffs job. Joining forces with Jones and a host of men from the former sheriffs office has mellowed Dear’s opinion of his former opponent. "I’ve come to realize that Clarence Jones was a totally misunderstood individual. He was not just another politician. I think the Omega team is going to be a good blend of talents.
"I’ve been involved in some kind of law enforcement or investigative work for over twenty years, starting out as a highway patrolman in Florida, when I was 18 years old. I love it. It’s a big challenge and I really get a thrill out of my work."