JJ Armes Visits NAIS - An Opportunity Of A Life-Time

"Just as American history reveals the king of politicians as men like Lincoln and
John Kennedy and just as Elvis Presley is the King of Rock-M-Roll, there is
no doubt in my mind that JJ Armes of El Paso, Texas is known now and
will forever be known as the king of private investigation. "
By Ralph Thomas

On a cold morning in January 0f 2007, after being iced in for several days, I jumped out of bed rather early for me! I had a hard time sleeping the night before! It was the day JJ Armes was coming to town and I was so excited about spending some time with him and his son, I couldn't seem to shut my brain off the night before to get some rest. The phone rang and it was my son Cody Woods telling me that he was on his way to the airport to pick them up. "What a day this is going to be," I thought. Although I have known JJ Armes and his son, I have never had the opportunity to spend a whole day with the most famous and successful investigator in the world. "What would I wear," I thought. I figured that JJ and his son would be all decked out in the best business suits that money could buy. If you know me at all, you know I'm just not one to place a tie around my neck unless it's an absolute must. I quickly decided to wear what I usually wear. which didn't include a tie or a suit. That’s just not me, and these folks would see right through that anyway! Excitement was an understatement in my feelings as I left the house and speeded down the highway to meet these folks in the Thomas Graphics boardroom! Despite the cold and rain, this was a great day in my own life!

Jay Armes Jr. , JJ Armes, Ralph Thomas And Cody Woods inside the
Spy And Private-Eye Museum in Austin

I have to tell you, I find spending time with JJ Armes and his son an opportunity of a lifetime. It's rare in today's profession to meet a father and son team of professionals that radiates confidence, professionalism and humility all at the same time. These two individuals are truly remarkable people. This was a sort of informal get together. At first I felt strangely out of place meeting the world's most famous private investigator and his son, but that feeling quickly evaporated. I have had a lifetime of opportunities to meet highly successful people in the private investigative profession from around the world, but no one has ever come close to making that special profound impression on me as JJ and his son have. Meeting them both profoundly reminds me that a measure of a man (based on our short time on planet earth) isn't measured by material wealth one can obtain in life, but simply by what one can do to make this place a better place for others.

Watch A Video Presentation On Jay J Armes From PM Magazine!

JJ and his son radiate professionalism and confidence as solid as steel, but neither of them are your typical full-of-themselves personalities that we tend to find in this profession of ours. Nothing has gone to their heads despite their billing for decades as the world's most successful and most famous investigative agency. They have operated out of El Paso Texas for almost forty years, and their firm is known simply as The Investigators. Almost every private investigator in the world knows who JJ is but I have to tell you, getting to know him (and his son) in person is truly a life changing experience.

The Rest Of The NAIS Staff Was As Excited As I Was!
Dan And Chris With Mr. Jay J. Armes!

We had lunch together at Houston's in Austin, Texas and the time seemed to just zip away as JJ rattled off his experience as an international private investigator. My mind was totally glued to his stories! I have done this thousand’s of times with other interesting characters in the private investigative profession, but this was different. As we talked with JJ and got to know him, a calmness set in about how real this man is. He's a very humble person for someone whose name is almost always mentioned when the question is asked, "Who's the most successful private investigator in the world? " He asked if it was ok to say grace before we started eating, and JJ said the prayer. JJ has highly advanced people skills that go way beyond the average person, to include those of most highly successful investigators. By that I mean you get this impression after you meet him that he has this God given ability to talk anyone out of anything, -- be it information or getting himself out of a dangerous jam.

When asked, Mr. Armes rattled off a resume of successful cases. These cases included scores of successful recoveries of kidnap victims; to an account of how he and his son routinely repossess Harley motorcycles from outlaw motorcycle gangs; to cases that involved the successful recovery of expensive jewelry. He also discussed the multi-million dollar cases that he works on a contingency basis, as well as those he does pro-bono that nobody ever hears about. Because Jay has worked against some pretty “heavy hitters” over the years, he’s received many death threats on his life, and has narrowly escaped several failed attempts to kill him. He also shared with us some of the many dangerous international criminal investigations he has been involved in over the years. While I have heard many highly successful investigators talk about their most exciting and dangerous cases before, most are highly embellished at best. His cases are real, true and verifiable. He wasn't bragging at all like most of the big names in this profession do. He was just talking as I was asking! This guy is straight up and has no need for make-believe embellishments.

I had to ask him about the rumors I had heard during the years that President Reagan was in office. I had heard that Reagan wanted him to serve as the United States Ambassador to Mexico. He simply stated that it was so, but that his family didn't want to have to move to Mexico City for several years. So that was that and he had to turn it down. The Reagan administration wanted him badly, and people tried to talk him out of his decision, but he would not budge. He was putting his family above his career. This tells you a lot about this remarkable man from El Paso! Armes did run for, and got elected, to the El Paso City Council some time ago where he served two terms. During his time in office he exposed waste, corruption, and mismanagement, -- all which made local headlines, ruffled many feathers, and raised eyebrows. My mind raced forward as he talked about this experience and I felt an urge of hope to maybe see him in the future as JJ Armes, Governor of Texas (if he wouldn't mind living in a mansion smaller than what he's used to). Maybe U.S. Senator Armes, and yes, even President Armes. That was just a blink of hope because as JJ went on, you could tell he has had his fill of elective office. His real love is in conducting street investigations!

From left to Right :
JJ Armes with Ben Harroll helping with the PI Museum at the
Vegas Super Conference 2006 - JJ Armes with Client Marlon Brando shortly
after returning his kidnapped son to him. - JJ Armes with Jack Lord of Hawaii 5-O. Jay J Armes played as an actor on the TV program.


Mr. Armes started out life with dreams of becoming a surgeon. Those dreams changed when he lost his hands in an explosion at the age of eleven. In his early years he dabbled as an actor in Hollywood. However, he states that he didn’t like the morality that he saw from a lot of the people in the acting profession. Because of that he kind of shunned away from it. I think what he was telling me was that he wasn't into the fast track of drugs, sex and rock-n-roll party scene of Hollywood. He said that at one time he considered becoming a lawyer, but found the idea of being limited to traveling back and forth from an office to the courthouse to try cases rather boring. He picked private investigation because it had one of the worst reputations, -- primarily because of the way PI’s were depicted in the “B-movies.” He made up his mind that he would become the best in his profession, and would do everything possible to bring an air of professionalism and respect to our industry. And that’s precisely what he’s been doing for the past forty plus years. He's a man that needs action and excitement. After listening to him, you get this impression that it would not have mattered what profession he would have picked, he'd just rise to the top of whatever it was.

Aside from the superior impression JJ himself made on me, his son (Jay J. Armes III) is as sharp as a pen. There must be five thousand and one people who would love to have the opportunity to follow the shadows of a legend like his father. This tends to create it's own set of unique problems I'm sure. There is this love of father and son you see in them both. Jay Jr. told stories of how he would sometimes sneak into his father's car to be with him on cases when he was only five or six. With twenty years of experience under his belt, he's emerged as a crack private investigator and business entrepreneur himself. He has a keen since of where he's been, who he is and where he is going. When you look at him, you see a bright future for the private investigative profession with people of this caliber!

There was one other thing that impressed me about JJ Armes! Other than a few wrinkles in his face, he doesn't seem but a couple of years older than the 1970's images of himself when he was kind of known as “the man of steel”, -- doing things like rescuing Marlin Brando's child from the clutches of a dangerous kidnapper. I would think that he's a walking example of clean living that I wish I had learned earlier in my life!

Photos: Right: More Recent Photo Of Jay J. Armes, Most Famous PI In The World
Center: First Edition Of Jay Armes Book (Signed) Left: Photo Of JJ With The President And VP

Obtain A Copy Of The Jay J. Armes Book

JJ Armes has a new book in the works that will be on the book shelves in about a year or so. There is also a major motion picture coming out about his life and exploits. His old book from the 1970's, which almost everyone knows about, is currently being re-printed and will soon be available once again! He's about to become the subject of a huge media blitz and rightfully so! Just as American history has dubbed men such as Lincoln and John Kennedy as the kings of politicians; and just as Elvis Presley is the King of Rock-N-Roll; there is no doubt in my mind that JJ Armes of El Paso, Texas is known now, and will forever be known, as the king of private investigation. Looking into the future I can almost see the TV commercials for it now! JJ Armes, Movie of the Year. JJ Armes, the movie series (just like the James Bond movies.) JJ Armes, the weekly TV program! Jay Armes Jr. - a new breed of crack investigator! And on a personal note...JJ Armes is my American hero!

Ralph Thomas
Round Rock, Texas