||Tiki Caliente May 9th-May 11th 2008 in Palm Springs
Grand Member (first year)
Joined: Nov 23, 2006
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
|Posted: 2008-05-13 06:57 am  Permalink|
Muchos Kudos to Rory for a wonderful event. GREAT JOB!!!
I have the same back problems as TikiRay...protruding discs and impinging on nerves...my back only likes sleeping on my TemperPedic bed...so hotel beds kill me...and unfortunately made me a conservative this weekend.
The art work was wonderful. HugsHugs to Dirk for the very generous gift of art that will make my lounge walls very happy. Smokin Menehunes were dabomb!!! The hotel lobby, pool and bar were awesome.
Thanks to the gang for stopping by for Sunday morning cocktails...it was wonderful meeting everyone.
My favorite part of Tiki Caliente was The Martini Kings.
...and playing my favorite song "Girl From Ipanema" with Al on vocals.
Thanks for the autograph...the new album is fabulous and played for most of the 9 hour drive home.
"Oh waiter, another cocktail please!!!"
Grand Member (first year)
Joined: Nov 23, 2006
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
|Posted: 2008-05-13 08:03 am  Permalink|
And now...the story of Grifters!!!
Mother & Son Murder Team
The gray limestone mansion at 20 East 65th Street in New York City was designed to ward off evil. The builder had put a carved stone face above the double front door when it was constructed at the turn of the 20th century. The godlike sculpture was there for good luck. Wings sprang from the head and its fierce mouth was open, snarling at all who passed by. Legend said the god flew away at midnight in search of bacchanalian revelry, returning each dawn to guard the entrance of the great city house and its occupants within.
On the morning of July 5, 1998, the great carved face failed to do its job.
On this Sunday after the most celebratory of American holidays, East 65th Street was silent. New York's Central Park was a block in one direction and Madison Avenue intersected the eastern end of the street. The night before had been full of gala events. Gotham was still sleeping.
A strange pair was taking advantage of the slumbering city. They emerged from the mansion dragging a huge suitcase, bickering so loudly that small birds flew away, alarmed in their perch in the tree next to the house. The woman making most of the noise had a voice that grated, like a long fingernail scraping slowly across a blackboard. The twenty-something young man with her was tall and muscular, nearly handsome with his wavy hair. There was something about his eyes, though. He had a frightening stare. And nobody would have guessed that the older woman was not only his mother, but also his lover and soul mate.
The woman giving orders had been pretty once. Some would say beautiful, because she had been mistaken many times for Elizabeth Taylor when she was younger. But she had gotten soft and plump with age. Time had not been kind and her black hair, usually covered by a wig, was flecked with gray. She was not happy if someone learned her age was 65.
Her son was struggling with the suitcase, and she barked at him to be more careful. There was a reason for that. As he dragged the luggage towards the stolen green Lincoln Town Car, you could see that it was leaking small, dark drops. They were small dots waiting to be connected. Red dots. He was leaving a trail of blood behind him.
As the city slept off its holiday hangover, the man lifted the heavy bag and heaved it into the cavernous trunk of the Lincoln. When he slammed the lid, the woman again yelled at him for creating the noise, even though her own voice was much louder.
The woman's name was Sante Kimes, and she had been arrested and charged 14 times for crimes that ranged from shoplifting to keeping slaves. There had been much, much more, of course, but she was smart. Most of the time she hadn't been caught.
Her son Kenny was already following in her footsteps. Just two months before, he had helped his mother steal some lipsticks from a discount store in Miami, knocking down the store detective before being arrested. Of course, the charges were reduced, bond was posted, and they quickly left town. Who was going to put out an APB for such a petty crime?
Just hours before, the mother and son had committed the ultimate offense. The body inside the suitcase had been a lively 83-year-old socialite named Irene Silverman who owned the East Side mansion and leased out suites to those who could afford to pay the $6000-per-month rent. Celebrities in town for a long stay singer Chaka Khan and pianist Peter Duchin were regulars often made up the cast of paying guests. Silverman didn't need the money; she simply liked company. Her staff cleaned the small apartments. Their generous employer had given the servants the holiday weekend off.
With everyone gone, Sante and Kenny had forced the old woman into their suite where, after a bloody struggle, she was shot in the head with a stun gun that had paralyzed her. Then Kenny strangled Irene. After that she was wrapped in a shower curtain that had been purchased just for the occasion and trussed up with duct tape.
Why kill an old woman? Well, when the dust cleared, Sante was planning to tell the staff that her "dear friend" Irene had sold her the mansion and would show them a bill of sale if necessary. Besides murder, forgery was another specialty Sante thought she had mastered. The servants would buy her tale, she thought, and Irene well, that Mrs. Silverman had gone off on a long European vacation would be her tale.
But that was for tomorrow. Right now there was a body inside the trunk of a stolen car that had to disappear. Her son got behind the wheel and the two sped down the block, turned onto Madison Avenue and merged the Lincoln into an ever-present herd of yellow taxicabs.
"To tell the truth, I was born above a brothel in New Orleans," the bon vivant of the fashionable East Side of New York often told her new acquaintances. Whether the story was true or not, didn't matter. Irene Silverman was a colorful dynamo who had lived a rich, full life.
She was indeed born in New Orleans, in 1916, the only daughter of an Italian fishmonger and a Greek immigrant seamstress. Her father's last name was Zambelli and the exotic surname was his claim to fame. He was related to the great Carlotta Zambelli, a ballet dancer who, in the first half of the 20th century was a star of the first order, every bit as important as Dame Margot Fonteyn would be to the second half.
Her father thought that dancing was in the family genes, and the little girl who was then known as Irena Zambelli was given ballet lessons several times a week, even though her parents had a tough time scraping up the cash to pay her teacher. "We lived then on the edge of respectability," Irene once recalled.
In 1932, during the depth of the Great Depression, Irene's father deserted the family. Her mother, who still had dreams of producing a prima ballerina, brought her to New York to study under one of the great dance choreographers of the day, Michael Fokine. She paid for the lessons by sewing ballet costumes for him at night after her shift as a button seamstress in the garment district was finished.
Irene was good, no doubt about it, but at a mere 5'0" and weighing just 98 pounds, she was too tiny to dance with a major company, even by ballet standards.
'I had to be employed because it was just my mother and myself," Irene told her friend John Gruen a half-century later. Dance was all she knew. So in 1933, Irene found a position in what was then the corps de ballet of Radio City Music Hall doing four shows a day, seven days a week, for a weekly paycheck of $36. She was the shortest one on stage, the dancer who was always at the end of the line. Her feet often bled through her satin slippers from being en pointe and would hurt so much she sometimes walked home to her apartment barefoot.
Radio City was 75 cents for a matinee in those days, and for that price you not only saw ballet and the more commercial dancers, the Rockettes, but a movie as well. Irene debuted in a production of "Bolero," which was followed by one of the hottest movies of the year, "King Kong."
Irene was nicknamed Zambi by the other dancers because it rhymed with Bambi. She soon developed a reputation as a bit of a practical joker.
"The $36 a week looked like a lot of money back then," she once remembered, giggling. "Still, I was very mischievous. I would walk on the train of the girl in front of me, little things like that."
After eight years of grinding it out on the Radio City Music Hall stage, Irene let a man, someone who was more than a decade older than she, into her life. His name was Samuel Silverman, and he was a real estate mogul whose fortunes were still on the rise.
"Whatever reservations I had were overcome with the realization that I was going to be very rich," she later recalled. "It was a marriage of convenience for us both."
"He was her Stage Door Johnny," said a pal of the two, the Hawaiian real estate tycoon Stuart Ho. "She was bright and bubbly, a regular Auntie Mame. He was brilliant, with connections at the highest level."
The two were married in 1941. Part of the deal was that Irene's mother would live with them. They never had children of their own, just money, and lots of it. Sam was able to sniff out good real estate deals in every borough of New York. After World War II, he expanded his real estate empire to countries outside the U.S. where Irene used the Cajun French from her childhood to charm the Parisians. They not only purchased the grand gray stone five-story mansion on East 65th street in New York but owned apartments in Honolulu and the City of Lights. There, the balcony of their bedroom backed onto a music theater where they heard songs coming from the stage each night as they lay in bed. Irene and Sam always had the best seats for every opera and ballet performance in Europe.
The grand, globetrotting life ended in 1973 when Sam succumbed to cancer. Her mother lasted a few years longer and for the first time in her life, Irene began to live alone.
The woman once called Irena, then Zambi, and finally respectfully as Mrs. Silverman wasn't the type to shrivel up and wait for death. Instead, she actually had begun quickening the pace of her life.
She began by having the mansion divided into suites and made it into the most luxurious bed-and-breakfast in all of Manhattan. She always said it was for the company and not the cash.
"If she liked the guest, she'd have the servants bring him breakfast in bed," said her neighbor, Miki Ben-Kiki. "And if she really liked you, then she'd take you out to dinner."
She began taking classes at nearby Columbia University. She was popular with the younger students, partly because she always kept a bottle of first-rate champagne in her purse and partly because she was the only person who not only came to classes by limousine but would sometimes volunteer to have her driver drop off a classmate after a lecture. She became known as a charming eccentric, someone who once showed up at a party with ten muscular young men in tow.
"I rented them. For the night," she cracked. Her quirks became legend and the servants loved to gossip about how she would only allow her plants to be watered with old gin bottles and that she would breed prize boxer dogs to sell at $500 each. Still, when a little girl wanted one but didn't have the cash, Irene said she would take the change in her piggy bank and did.
In 1998, Irene was 82, but had no plans to slow down. Her stylist dyed her hair Lucille Ball orange and, despite her arthritis and a bad back, she would sometimes amaze her guests by rising on tiptoe, her hands pointed above her head, like Odile in "Swan Lake," about to do 32 fouette turns.
Then she would giggle. For a moment, she was Zambi again.
When Kenny Kimes showed up on Irene's doorstep, he used one of the oldest cons in the book. First, he used the name of an old friend of hers as a reference. Then he showed her the money. He had $6000 in $100 bills. Irene had always received checks but she knew that cash couldn't be traced: no money for the I.R.S. Irene, a child of the Depression, sealed her lips and fate. Kenny Kimes was nicely dressed in a suit. He seemed okay. And when his loudmouthed female assistant showed up a few days later and began living with him, Irene held her tongue. She had signed her own death warrant.
Irene Silverman's co-killer was born Sante Louise Singhrs in July 1934 on the edge of Oklahoma City. Her father, Rattan, was East Indian; her mother, Mary, was Irish. Sante was the third of four children. After they had migrated to Southern California in the late thirties, her father deserted the family. Their mother then became a prostitute in Los Angeles and the children found themselves in foster homes or in orphanages. Sante, the last to be separated from her mother, ran wild on the streets of the City of Angels.
Her hangout was a soda shop on one of L.A.'s main thoroughfares, Melrose Avenue. The couple that owned the place, Kelly and Dorothy Seligman, also owned a movie theater in the same block and from time to time would waive the admission charge and let the dark-haired wild child in for free. Dottie Seligman had a sister who couldn't conceive children with her husband, and they wanted to adopt. The sister and brother-in-law, Edwin and Mary Chambers, were more than willing to share their home with a needy youngster. Ed, a career military man, was about to take an important position as the third highest-ranking officer in the Nevada National Guard. Would she like to move to the state capital, Carson City, with them? She would.
"She came here in the seventh grade," her friend Ruth Tanis remembered. "At first she was known as Sante Singhrs, but the kids made fun of that, and so then she went by the name of Sandy Singer. Then when she was adopted her name became Sandra Chambers. But we always called her Sandy." (Author's Note: The National Crime Information Center lists 28 different aliases for Sante Kimes.)
On the surface, Sandy Chambers appeared to fit in. At Carson High School, she got decent grades, was a cheerleader for the basketball team, the historian for the Spanish club, member of the Glee club, and co-editor of the school's newspaper, The Chatter, but was best known for being "boy crazy," a consummate flirt.
"She ran for a freshman class office and the next year for a sophomore class post. She lost both times and never tried after that. We were a little guilty, I suppose, of treating her like an outsider," recalled Duane Glanzman, the 1952 senior class president.
"But she never lacked for dates," said Ruth Tanis.
There was a darker side emerging as well. She was caught shoplifting at a local five-and-dime (the offense wasn't prosecuted) and once went on a shopping spree after stealing her adoptive father's credit card. She seemed to be happy so much so that when her own mother showed up in Carson City one day without warning and wanted her back, Sante refused.
On her high school graduation day in June of 1952, Sante told everyone within listening range that she was going on to college, get a degree and become a journalist. Instead, three months later, she married a high school sweetheart, Lee Powers, and divorced him three months after that. After that she did a six-week secretarial course at a Reno Business School and bounced around for two years in northern California San Francisco and Sacramento with her friend Ruth Tanis, alternating between office work and college courses. By most accounts, it was a grand time.
"We were like Laverne and Shirley let loose in the big city," recalled Ruth Tanis, remembering their salad days.
Sante eventually returned to Carson City and married another high school admirer, Edward Walker, in 1956. There would be a child from that marriage, Kent, but the union didn't last long. Her husband accused her of stealing and shoplifting, and indeed, she was arrested in 1961 in Sacramento for petty theft.
Disgraced, she ended the marriage and returned to the streets of Los Angeles, where she alternated between prostitution and other crimes. Court records show she was arrested for grand theft in Los Angeles in 1965, and auto theft a few days later in Norwalk, California.
"Let me tell you the story of the car theft," one of her former lawyers, now retired, said. "Sante walked into a Cadillac dealership and conned the salesman into letting her test-drive a convertible. Alone, of course. And, of course, she never came back and drove the car for months as if she owned it. When the police caught up with her, she told them she had been given the car to test-drive, and that's what she was doing still test-driving it!"
The names of Sante Singhrs and several aliases were filling up police blotters in Southern California. There was a charge against her in Glendale in 1968, and another grand-theft charge in Riverside the next year. She also worked as a prostitute in Palm Springs.
Contact with her adoptive parents ended, and when Mary Chambers died of cancer in 1969, Sante didn't even attend the funeral. By now, Sante was looking for the big score, something or someone who could put her on easy street for the rest of her life. She began looking for a soul mate that thought the same way and enjoyed the rush, the thrill of stealing just like she did.
Perhaps it was fate. His name was Kenneth Kimes, a hustler just like her. He was worth nearly ten million dollars when she met him. That wealth still did not stop them from attempting to con all who got in their way, including the president of the United States. They would produce a son, Kenny, who would be trained from birth to behave as if he were the devil's spawn on earth.
Kenneth Kimes, Sante's third husband and Kenny's dad, was born in Prague, Oklahoma in 1916. About the time Sante was being born, he was on his way to California with three brothers and two sisters and riding on an old flatbed truck, part of the Great Depression migration. For years, the family moved up and down the fertile valleys of the Golden State, picking melons and harvesting lettuces for pennies a day. Despite the low salary, Ken Kimes had the mentality of the times, saving part of each pay packet, which eventually grew into a nice nest egg.
"I was the fastest goddamn melon picker in the San Joaquin valley," Ken Kimes Sr. would drunkenly boast several decades later after he had become a millionaire many times over.
When World War II began, Ken Sr. was among the first to enlist. He spent the war years helping to liberate and then occupy the Aleutian Islands from the Japanese. The cold desolate isles off the coast of Alaska weren't the greatest place to spend three years, but he made the most of it, trading guns with the indigenous population for fresh fish and caribou, which he resold to the mess hall. He also operated a small casino inside a Quonset hut. By V-Day, he had managed to send a tidy sum home.
During one leave, he found time to woo and marry a Texas beauty, Charloette Tayor. They would have two children, a boy and a girl, and began the post-war years with a little bit of cash and a sky's-the-limit attitude. Everyone seemed to be buying cars, highways were being built and the couple decided to get into the construction business. After building a few apartment complexes and trailer parks, they began focusing on what fit the autos and road boom best motels.
"We built at least 30 of them," Charloette Kimes recalled. "We sold them for tremendous profits."
It didn't take long for them to figure out that they could make even more money by building them and then owning and operating the new lodgings. Soon there was a small empire with the crown jewel of their chain built directly across the street from a newly constructed Disneyland. The 100-room complex was called the Mecca Motel.
Charloette soon discovered that her husband had a dark side. He began to control her, doling out an allowance and specifying what she could and couldn't buy. Ken's mother and sister lived in the small mansion in Orange County and insisted upon going everywhere with her on her husband's orders. Not only was Ken Kimes Sr. away for weeks at a time, but Charloette soon found out there was a loose woman near every motel her husband built. "I had worked like a dog for him," Charloette recalled. "I thought that every time he socked away another $100,000, he'd relax. But he never did. Money became his god. And he was a womanizer. Slick as a button about it and he got away with it for a long time. Eventually I got blindsided."
Charloette filed for divorce in 1963, but Ken Kimes hired the former attorney general for the state of California to represent him. In the end, Ken got away with the bulk of their fortune. Charloette had no regrets.
"I have never had any trouble holding my head high," she said.
There are two stories on how Kenneth Kimes met Sante, a romantic match surely struck up by the devil. The first is that Sante saw an article on California millionaires in a magazine in 1971. She liked his looks, not to mention his estimated net worth and began circling him like a hawk. The second is that he went after her. He needed a public relations person for an American Bicentennial scheme he was cooking up one in which he hoped to make several million dollars.
Whichever is true, Kenneth Kimes had more than met his match. At first she behaved like a geisha or maybe a practiced bar girl out to earn a commission on each shot sold. The courtesan talents she had learned at her mother's knee served her well. She would personally stir his whiskey cocktails with her little finger while pretending to keep up with him drink for drink. Instead hers would be deposited into a planter or a wastebasket. When he would get drunk, she would take charge. And if called upon, she could perform every sexual trick in the book. Ken Kimes may have once controlled Charloette, but it was Sante who was calling the shots now.
"She asked him what his favorite flower was. When he told her, she went to a perfume shop and had them duplicate the fragrance for her to wear. She had him eating out of her hand," a relative of Ken Kimes said.
Sante wasn't yet a trophy wife. In fact, it would take ten years for Ken to marry her. By that time, their son Kenny would be six years old, Sante would have escaped a lengthy prison term, and was already beginning to teach their son the tricks of the trade.
The scheme cooked up by Ken Kimes and put into motion by Sante involved making money from the 1976 American Bicentennial. It was called "The Forum of Man." While that sounded grand, all they were really trying to sell were giant posters of state flags that extolled the 200th Birthday of the United States. They thought that simply by being seen in the right Washington circles and by being photographed in the right places, the government would put a poster in every classroom in America and sell the excess through post offices. They estimated that there were 250,000 such schoolrooms and at ten dollars each, well, do the math.
Ken Kimes needed credentials and he began addressing civic groups on patriotism. He also began calling himself "the honorary bicentennial ambassador of the United States" and said he would soon be traveling throughout the world to let other countries know about the forthcoming celebration. But an official sanction was needed, and it wasn't long before the brazen pair showed up at the White House to meet with Patricia Nixon.
Ken and Sante had forged a memo on White House stationery that supposedly was to Mrs. Nixon from a high-ranking White House assistant asking her to see him. It represented Ken Kimes as a big Republican donor and philanthropist who only wanted to give back to his country.
Mrs. Nixon appeared to see right through Ken and Sante's pitch and motioned the White House photographer away, but Sante whipped out her own camera and documented the event. It soon appeared in the Bicentennial Times, the official newsletter for the big year. Sante and Ken appeared halfway there and used the photo with Mrs. Nixon to arrange meetings with other federal officials.
On February 26, 1974, Sante and Ken went way over the top and did themselves in. Perhaps hoping to get some invitations to visit foreign countries as "honorary ambassadors," they began the evening by slipping past the Secret Service at a Blair House reception for Vice-President Gerald Ford, where they chatted him up on their plans for their worldwide bicentennial tour. Sante wore large diamonds on virtually every finger they were fake and told a woman she was from "East Indian royalty" and another that she was a full-blooded "American Indian."
Leaving some startled security guards behind, the two hopped a cab and proceeded to crash parties or receptions at the West German embassy, the Belgian embassy, and finally, a sit-down dinner at the Smithsonian's Renwick Gallery. At the Belgian residence, Sante boldly took the floor and made a pitch for the flag posters before being asked to leave.
They might have gotten away with the whole scam. But the next morning, telephone calls began flooding the desks of Washington society editors. Two days later, a Washington Star headline read THE BIGGEST CRASH SINCE 1929: "This is a story of how good manners and gall will get you into the world of Washington Society," the story began. The caption under Ken and Sante's picture said in part: "Kimes (rhymes with climbs)." The competing Washington Post put an investigative team on the affair and soon reported that the letter used to get an audience with Pat Nixon had been "doctored."
Exposed, the couple's attempted swindle was over, but not before Sante told a reporter that Ken was "a Will Rogers type, a self-starter, and a tiger. People ask me if I am involved with him. Well, I love him. I just love his warmth."
Sante said they were doing the project just to "get rid of cynicism in the world."
Imagine, for a moment, that you are Kenny Kimes Jr., born in 1975 to a mother and father who both loved to steal and con just for the thrill of it. You have a mother who smothers you with an unnaturally close form of love at an early age. Your father is drunk more often than he is sober and seems to be operated by his spouse as if he were a marionette. Your first memories are of police and investigators constantly showing up at your home to look into one shady scheme after another. Any hope of a normal life is doomed from the beginning.
Vittorio Raho, who lived next door to Kenny when his family had its Las Vegas house the Kimeses also had homes in Hawaii, the Bahamas, and California says that he was Kenny's "first real friend." Vittorio thought that Kenny was a wonderful companion. He used family money to buy his friendship, he thought, since Kenny often paid for both of them when they went to the movies or McDonald's. And Vittorio's dad, Benito, remembered Sante as someone who looked a lot like actress Elizabeth Taylor.
"She dressed in white all the time. With her hair and the make-up, she did look like Liz Taylor, to tell the truth," he said. Then he recalled a cruel, condescending Sante.
"She told me her son was a genius and mine wasn't, and she didn't want them together." (Author's note: When Kenny Kimes was arrested for murdering Irene Silverman, Vittorio Raho was a college graduate entering medical school.)
When Kenny couldn't find any friends in the neighborhood, his mother would hire them. In Hawaii, there was Kara Craver-Jones. "I was the hired playmate," she remembered. "He wasn't allowed to have any other friends and we had to do what his mom said, when she said it. He never talked back. She was dominant of him, of me, of everybody."
Sante trotted out an old ploy left over from her Bicentennial scam. She told Kara she was going to send her and Kenny to Russia as "youth ambassadors." Of course, it never happened.
Kara was picked up each day in a limousine to visit Kenny. From time to time, Kenny would confide in her, though he often made the stories up.
"We have Mafia troubles, but I can't talk about it," a young Kenny told his wide-eyed playmate. When Kara saw his mother's many wigs on a nightstand, Kenny made up a story on the spot. "My mother has cancer and has to go for chemotherapy treatments," he told her. The boy slave was learning: Tell a story, win sympathy, and unbalance the mark. It was a classic grifter trick.
Two strange things visitors noticed about Kenny's family were the locks and the maids. Once you were inside the house, you couldn't get out unless Sante let you out with a key. That was strange. And each house came with several Mexican maids whom Sante forced to go barefoot. Once one of them got out, and the Rahos remembered her screaming as she ran down the street until Sante captured her and brought her back.
The Kimes trio was one strange family. Everyone agreed on that.
Sante kept getting arrested for grand theft, petty theft, and schemes that involved claiming an item had been stolen from her home, putting an inflated price tag on it, and getting an insurance company to cough up a check. Often houses owned by Ken and Sante would mysteriously burn to the ground and an insurance firm would have to write an even larger one.
Sante narrowly escaped prison for stealing a mink coat from the Mayflower hotel during another trip to Washington in February of 1980. That caper was been a doozy.
A woman named Katherine Kenworthy had draped her dark ranch mink over a chair in the Mayflower's Town and Country lounge. Sante, who had already been noticed because of her resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor, focused on the coat. As Ken distracted the woman with conversation, Sante strolled over, slipped it on, then put on her own fur coat over it and sauntered away.
"Did I really see that?" a witness to the event, Rena Beachy, asked her companion. When Kenworthy reported the coat stolen, Beachy's description of "a fat Liz Taylor" to both the police and the hotel staff pinpointed Sante, who was staying in a suite with Ken and little Kenny on the 7th floor.
When the police showed up at the door, they found the coat. The initials had been freshly cut out with a razor blade. There were also several other mink coats, all with the labels and any identifying features removed. Additionally, there was a man's topcoat that had been reported stolen.
Sante was charged with the theft of the fur coat; Ken, with the men's coat. The two hastily posted a $4000 bond and left town.
Over the next five years, Sante kept getting her trial delayed by always having letters from mysterious doctors in Mexico sent just before trial. The notes said she was either too ill to travel or was about to have an operation. Ken lucked out when the owner of the topcoat died before his trial and the charges were dropped. In 1985, Sante was finally brought to trial, but as the testimony ended and the jury deliberated, she again skipped town. The jury convicted her, but a few days later another phony letter was presented that said she had been hit by a car crossing a street just before the verdict and had flown home for treatment. Her lawyer then said she had been convicted while absent and that was illegal. The ploy worked: Sante won on a technicality.
Sante's luck would eventually run out. For years, she had been traveling to Mexico, where she would grab poor girls off the streets and import them to her homes with promises of a big salary and a better life. Instead, she paid them nothing, kept them locked up inside her houses, and made them work seven days a week.
After the Washington trial, several of her slave girls escaped and went to the police even though it meant deportation Sante had brought them into the country illegally.
In August, police swooped down on a residence Sante and Ken owned in La Jolla, California and charged them both with "conspiracy to violate slavery laws." Ken and Sante claimed their home was in Las Vegas and it was there that a long trial took place. Sante was held without bail because of her leaving the mink coat trial. But before the trial, she conned her captors into moving her to a hospital because of medical complaints and then escaped by crawling out a bathroom window.
"She called me and said she was coming to see me," said her old friend Ruth Tanis. "I didn't know who was going to show up on my doorstep first, the FBI or Sante."
Sante was caught three days later at a Las Vegas bar called The Elbow Room. The bartender, whom she thought was a friend, turned her in.
At the trial, a parade of servants testified against her. Most claimed that Sante had tortured them. The first one, Ana Celia Sorano, said that Sante would always dismantle the telephone and lock her in when she went out. Her employer also slapped her around, she said. Another, Dolores Vasquez, had this horror story.
"She hit me because I burned the hamburger bread," she said. "[Sante] threatened me with a pistol. She called me stupid."
Her testimony stunned the jury with this anecdote.
"I had an allergy. I fainted. [Sante] said to go into the shower. I had taken off my clothes and she told me to get into the shower. I put the water on lukewarm. She changed the water to very hot. It burned. When I moved to a corner of the bathtub, she threw the hot water on me with a little pot."
Maribel Ramirez, another former employee, said that Sante had branded her with a hot iron and had the scars to prove it. She also said Sante had locked her in a closet overnight.
Ken Kimes cut a deal with the FBI before the trial. He got a three-year suspended sentence, a $70,000 fine, and agreed to enter rehab to get his alcoholism treated.
Sante, for the first time in her life, did some serious prison time. She was given five years in a federal correctional facility in Kentucky and served three. The two Kens visited her often and Sante later joked that she had stayed at "Club Fed."
When she got out in 1989, she was determined that she would never allow herself to be put away again. Not that she was reformed. Perhaps that was why bodies began to disappear every time the law got too close. In 1990, their family lawyer, Elmer Holmgren, burned down one of their homes for the insurance money. While drunk on vodka at a bar, he told the story of his arson to fascinated listeners. Federal gumshoes quickly brought him in for a talk and he agreed to become an informant. Soon after, Sante and Ken invited him to take a vacation with them in Costa Rica. They returned, but he didn't. His body was never found.
Sante's new policy was "leave no witnesses." Ever.
Most mothers don't go off to college with their children. Sante Kimes did. And at the University of California at Santa Barbara, she lived off-campus with Kenny and her husband. At UCSB, she often co-hosted keg parties with her son. If that was strange, so was the family's travel. She now shared a bed with her son on the road and not her husband.
On March 28, 1994, Sante Kimes pulled up in front of a Santa Barbara bank and went inside, leaving Ken Sr., now 77, in the car. When she came back out, he was dead of a heart attack. Sante didn't tell their son, who was away on spring break in Hawaii. Instead, she greeted him at the airport when he returned.
"Where's Papa?" Kenny asked.
"He's right here," Sante said and in a macabre move worthy of a Stephen King novel, whipped out Ken's ashes, which were inside an urn. Kenny was horrified, particularly when Sante produced two airline tickets. She forced him to get right back on a plane, and they returned to Hawaii. There, they disposed of her husband's ashes by scattering them on the waves of the Pacific Ocean on a beach near Honolulu.
Sante never told anyone about her husband's death. When his children or old friends telephoned, she would make up a story. One of her favorites: He's gone off to Japan to build a motel.
Why? Her alcoholic husband had never had his will updated and there was an old one somewhere out there that left everything to his two children from his first marriage. Although Sante could produce a marriage certificate, authorities would later doubt its authenticity, saying it appeared forged. Sante set out to grab as much of Ken Kimes Sr.'s $12 million fortune as she could.
She began by enlisting the help of an old real-estate crony of Ken's, David Kazdin. By creating a paper trail of documents, it soon appeared that Kazdin had purchased some of the Kimes' real estate empire. But Sante got greedy. She would often get a second mortgage on the properties using old documents, and then Kazdin would get a coupon book that instructed him to pay back by the month.
Kazdin didn't like that and soon threatened to tell all. That was a mistake. His body was found in a Dumpster near Los Angeles airport in March of 1998. He had been shot to death.
Kenny dropped out of college and, in an odyssey that seemed more like Bonnie and Clyde one tabloid reporter would dub them "Mommy and Clyde" the two began their 1998 nationwide journey that at first seemed without purpose. They began by purchasing the new Lincoln Town Car, paying with a worthless check about the time David Kazdin was killed. Sante and Kenny soon showed up in Florida to meet with the about-to-disappear island banker, Sayed Bilal Ahmed.
They were scamming as often as they could now. They had already pulled the worthless check trick on an Alabama motor home dealer and made off with an RV. It was in Florida that Sante had first met someone who told her about an elderly woman's wonderful boarding house for the rich in the Big Apple. That sounded like a good one. Mother and son left Florida and were off to New York.
After Sante and Kenny disposed of Irene's body at a suburban New Jersey construction site, they returned to New York ready to carry out the rest of their plan. They weren't about to expose themselves until they thought the coast was clear. A few days prior to killing Irene Silverman, the pair had called an old buddy, Stan Patterson, who lived in a Las Vegas trailer park. Patterson had sold Sante and Kenny guns, did odd jobs for them, and was able to keep his mouth shut. Or so they thought.
"What's up, Sante?" Patterson asked when Sante called. She told him that he was needed to run a New York mansion for them that rented suites to the rich.
"Just for a few weeks, I promise," she said.
The phone call would prove to be the biggest mistake of her life. The FBI had found Patterson and talked to him about Sante. They wanted to question her about David Kazdin's murder, the stolen Lincoln, and a few other crimes. Lead us to her, they told Patterson, and we won't prosecute you for selling guns illegally.
So when Sante and Kenny met Patterson who wore a bulletproof vest to the rendezvous at the New York Hilton just after returning from disposing of Irene Silverman's body, federal agents surrounded them. It was all over. Kenny was so frightened that he wet his trousers. Sante was brazen to the end, using an alias, and loudly protesting her innocence.
Inside the stolen Lincoln was a treasure trove of incriminating evidence. Irene's passport and keys to the mansion were in the back seat as was a fully loaded Glock .9 mm pistol and a .22 Beretta. There were real estate transfer papers and a notebook that showed Sante practicing Irene Silverman's signature over and over again. There was an empty stun-gun box, blank social security cards, handcuffs, extra license plates, syringes, and walkie-talkies. The car's contents seemed to have been acquired from a supermarket for criminals.
Sante and Kenny were tried in the spring of 2000. After several months of testimony, the jury declared Sante guilty of 58 different crimes and 60 for Kenny. Sante was sentenced to 120 years and Kenny, 125. At their sentencing, Sante was asked if she had anything to say. She jumped to her feet, where she ranted about her life and the unfairness of her trial for more than an hour. The judge stopped her.
"Mrs. Kimes, your performance is over," she was told. Marshals led them both away.
A few months later, Kenny attempted to escape by holding a Court TV reporter, Maria Zone, hostage by pressing a ballpoint pen into her throat. After three hours he was subdued, and the following month, both Kenny and Sante Kimes were extradited to Los Angeles to stand trial for the murder of David Kazdin. During that trial in June of 2004, while he was facing the death penalty, Kenny changed his plea to guilty and betrayed his mother by implicating her in the murder. He also confessed to killing the Bahamian banker, Syed Bilal Ahmed, by first drugging him, then drowning him in a bathtub, and later disposing of the body in the ocean.
"No body, no crime," Kenny told the judge, revealing the Kimes family motto. Even though her son had "ratted" her out, Sante maintained her innocence and tried to play the sympathy card. Her court appearances included arrivals via wheelchair, fainting spells, a "heart attack," and continuous weeping. The judge, Kathleen Kennedy-Powell didn't buy the illness routine, particularly after Sante took to name-calling and repeatedly called the prosecutor "Mr. D.A. Death."
Each received another life sentence that was added on to the more than 100 years they were already serving.
[ This Message was edited by: VampiressRN 2008-05-13 08:08 ]
Joined: May 27, 2006
From: The Valley!
|Posted: 2008-05-13 08:48 am  Permalink|
Wow, creepy, I didn't know they had killed so many. I must see the movie again I didn't realize it was based on this hotel owner & he was a creep too! Thanks for the story, fassinating..... It was wonderful to meet you you ladies this weekend what a blast huh! Glad ya made it home safe & see you at TO! Thanks for the "Formica's" cheers!
Joined: May 18, 2004
From: The Exotic Port of REDONDO BEACH, CA
|Posted: 2008-05-13 09:51 am  Permalink|
This has to be the longest post ever on this forum
Joined: Aug 04, 2006
|Posted: 2008-05-13 10:23 am  Permalink|
Yeah Vamp, a ten page post! Another great story story too.
"That's not a post, that's a beam"
It was nice to finally meet you and your friend.
Joined: Jul 31, 2003
From: Long Beach, CA
|Posted: 2008-05-13 11:44 am  Permalink|
Rory, thanks for put'n on a great event. Always fun to hang with friends at the Tropics.
Squid, I agree with everyone. Squid is one talented mutha and a great guy.
Kinney (LLT), thanks for the slow dance. I hope I did'nt crush any toes.
Lets do it a again next year!!
I survived the head-hungry Jivaro tribe!
[ This Message was edited by: Swamp Fire 2008-05-13 11:44 ]
Joined: Aug 04, 2006
|Posted: 2008-05-13 12:50 pm  Permalink|
Saturday morning, woke up to noise coming from the room next door. I politely knocked on the wall to keep it down. When Grog pounded back, it suddenly became clear why Wildsville had reserved the room for me. Very funny Rory!
Sat 8, 9, or 10am
I stumble out into blazing sunlight in search of coffee.
Rorys holding court at the pool as I enter.
"See that guy with no sleep? I put him next to Grogs room! LOL
Well Hardy, har, har, har Yeah, keep it up Mr. Funny man.
So I stumble off on a tour of the old Tiki on the grounds while I sip coffee.
This message was rewritten to placate certain persons or person.
[ This Message was edited by: Ojaitimo 2008-05-16 18:50 ]
Grand Member (8 years)
Joined: Mar 04, 2005
From: Mission (Impossible) Viejo, Ca
|Posted: 2008-05-13 12:59 pm  Permalink|
My camera is on vacation at The SoccerTiki Grotto for the week. Will post pics this weekend
Joined: Jul 31, 2002
From: Ladera Ranch, Ca.
|Posted: 2008-05-13 1:07 pm  Permalink|
Fantastic job Rory......
I really have to hand it to you Bro. Myself and other Caliente patrons
had talked about having some sort of an event at the Tropics. Just when all hope seemed lost...wallah!!
Had a blast at Tiki-Caliente. Great to see old friends and meet new ones. Everybody was so
relaxed and ready to party. For being your first stab at this sort of thing you did a wonderful
job. Your hard work has paid off my friend and all the attendees will remember this event in our
memories. Palm Springs is "TIKI".
Mahalo -TheTikiGuy (aka Angelo)
Grand Member (first year)
Joined: Nov 23, 2006
From: Sun City Lincoln Hills (NorCal)
|Posted: 2008-05-13 1:09 pm  Permalink|
Thank goodness you weren't next to my room Tim...we were laughing our arses off till the wee hours. And what is it with hotel TVs...you're watching a movie and then the commercial comes on a twice the volume...my apologies to whomever was next door to me and Corona Contessa.
That Mexican restaurant was outtasite!!! Had the best beef fajitas I have ever eaten.
My fabulous LLT TikiFarm mug purchase. YEEEHAAW
"Oh waiter, another cocktail please!!!"
Joined: Aug 04, 2006
|Posted: 2008-05-13 1:39 pm  Permalink|
Laughing I could have handled. This was strange like.... Remember the scene in 2001 with the cavemen? Oh wait, those were apes weren't they? Say, what were you both doing in there Grog?
(Thanks to the TCer who informed me that 2001 a Space Odessey was playing on the TV that night. (Sorry, honest mistake)
[ This Message was edited by: Ojaitimo 2008-05-26 08:58 ]
Joined: Feb 24, 2008
From: Redondo Beach, CA
|Posted: 2008-05-13 3:57 pm  Permalink|
Thanks for a fun weekend! We met a lot of cool people and had a good time.
I had my 1st mai tai in 2 1/2 years (and drank 1/2 of it. I'm a wuss.).
Rory, you did a fabulous job with this event, and we're looking forward to next year.
Perry (hope I got your name right?) - thanks for organizing the raffle. We're always available to help out a good cause.
Thanks to the bands and performers for keeping everyone entertained throughout.
Bonus thank you to the Smokin Menehunes who played A LOT this weekend.
Thanks to everyone who bought stuff and gave Mike all the good feedback.
(Unfortunately I have to give the hotel bed 2 thumbs DOWN, as my back is fucked up and I'm mostly out of commission as a result.)
Maybe we'll see some of you at the Aloha Cruz Island+Beach 08 here in Redondo Beach next month. Thanks again to everyone who helped make Tiki Caliente such a fantastic weekend!
Joined: Dec 13, 2007
From: PALM SPRINGSVILLE
|Posted: 2008-05-13 5:34 pm  Permalink|
Just some more pictures for the people of Tiki Caliente.
Rory "WILDSVILLE MAN" Snyder
Joined: Aug 04, 2006
|Posted: 2008-05-13 7:09 pm  Permalink|
Sat am or pm
Joined: Nov 09, 2004
From: The thumb !
|Posted: 2008-05-13 7:37 pm  Permalink|
Tons of great photos