But he never scrimped on fine cigars or custom golf clubs, and was part of a regular foursome at Granada Golf Club in Coral Gables.
He said that instead of a funeral, he wanted friends to gather at Burger Bob’s, the course-side lunch joint, for what his daughter called “an Irish wake.’’
That will happen later this spring, she said.
Holmes joined the Miami Police Department as a beat cop in 1951.
“I befriended the whores and pimps and they became my informants,’’ he told his daughter, who recorded his memories. “I got a reputation for having information for the detectives and for solving crimes. As a result, Chief [Walter] Headley asked me to become the [department’s] first polygraph examiner. I didn’t have any formal training, so I practiced using the polygraph on my wife...then I was sent to the Keeler Polygraph Institute.’’
Six years later, he took over the new Lie Detection Bureau. He started his own agency after leaving the department in 1963, but frequently tested suspects for former colleagues.
“The phone would ring at midnight and police showed up at the door with a guy in handcuffs,’’ Debra Holmes recalled.
As teenagers, she and her brother Steve, who died of melanoma in 2006, knew better than to lie to their dad.
“I never even tried, because there was no point,’’ she said. “Neither one of us tried to pull anything.’’
Holmes was a past-president of the Academy for Scientific Interrogation, which became the American Polygraph Association. He conducted background and pre-employment checks for law enforcement agencies and corporations, lectured worldwide on polygraph techniques, and authored the book Criminal Interrogation: A Modern Format for Interrogating Criminal Suspects Based on the Intellectual Approach, in 2002.
Holmes helped train FBI and CIA personnel. He tested figures in the President John F. Kennedy and the Rev. Martin Luther King assassination cases, and the Watergate scandal, including crooked financier Robert Vesco.
He was special consultant to the U.S. Senate Select Committee on Assassinations, caught Philadelphia’s scandal-plagued Mayor Frank Rizzo lying in the 1970s, and in 1968, cleared Dade County State Attorney Richard E. Gerstein of corruption allegations.
And he saved Freddie Pitts’ and Wilbert Lee’s lives.
Holmes was “a brilliant man,’’ said Lee. “He stood for the right thing, and not only because he helped me, but others. He didn’t take no foolishness or play no games. I liked that.’’
Pitts said Holmes “broke everything open’’ in the case after testing him and getting the real killer to confess.
“The first time we met, in prison, he came to interview us, I was kind of in wonderment of what it was all about,’’ recalled Pitts, a Miami shuttle-bus driver. “He really didn’t say exactly what it was that he was looking for. He had the general investigative mentality of police officers...He wasn’t revealing anything until he got the results and was convinced I was telling the truth.’’
Holmes then brought Miller into the case. They’d worked together on a previous case, which won Miller his first Pulitzer in 1967.