By Amy Silverman
By Olivia LaVecchia
By Monica Alonzo and Stephen Lemons
By Chris Parker
By Michael Lacey
By Weston Phippen
I sat in front of the television set Sunday night watching a show based on the Redmond killings called False Arrest, starring a suddenly pudgy Robert Wagner and the vacuous Donna Mills.
With those two great names of the TV screen in the heavy roles, the most frightening urban crime in this town's history has been made into a singularly unpleasant four-hour miniseries by the ABC network. The final two hours is scheduled to run Wednesday night.
It is based on the cold-blooded shootings of Pat Redmond, his wife, Marilyn, and her mother, Helen Phelps, on New Year's Eve, 1980.
Pat and Marilyn Redmond were busy preparing for a party for a few close friends when the killers arrived at their home.
The three men knocked on a garage door, displayed a police badge and asked for information.
Suddenly, they drew guns and entered the house. They hustled Pat and Marilyn and her mother, who was visiting them, into a bedroom and shot each in the back of the head.
It is a horrible story. In its own way, it is as frightening as Truman Capote's 30-year-old tale In Cold Blood, his classic story about the gruesome murders of the Clutter family in Kansas.
False Arrest is Joyce Lukezic's highly colored view of her own experience in the Redmond case. Charged with being one of the masterminds behind the murder, she went to trial twice.
She was found guilty the first time. Finally, after spending two years in county jail, she was acquitted.
Lukezic claims she had some very frightening experiences at the hands of other female inmates while held in county jail.
There are people, however, who profess to know what really went on inside the jail. They claim that if the truth came out, we might learn that Lukezic gave people as many scary moments as she received.
Lukezic would now like us to think of her as a modern reincarnation of Joan of Arc. My own feeling, based on observing her in court, is that she is closer in history to Madame DeFarge of Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. From the beginning, you had to know the motive was greed. So it figured that the people involved in the plot were vicious. The results show they were both overconfident and incompetent.
The men who hired on as killers made a fundamental error. They failed to kill Marilyn Redmond. The bullet entered the back of her head but, miraculously, it missed her brain.
If anyone comes out of this case as a real heroine, it is Marilyn Redmond. A gutsy and gracious woman, she displayed the courage of a lioness as she testified under heavy pressure and at great length in six tumultuous trials stemming from the case.
Each time, she was forced to relive those final moments with her husband, Pat, and 70-year-old mother, Helen Phelps.
I watched her tell this story four times myself. Each time I heard it, I found myself amazed that she still had the strength to rise from the witness chair by herself and walk down the center aisle and out of the courtroom.
"How can she go on?" I asked myself. "This is a scene that will always be in the back of her mind, waiting to play itself out again." Here is her story of the killings:
Marilyn Redmond is busily preparing a New Year's Eve ham and roast beef with scalloped potatoes. Her mother is preparing a relish dish and worrying about the rolls. She remembers how good everything smelled.
Her husband is sitting in the living room watching television with the family's springer spaniel. The dog is afraid of strangers and will be locked in the bathroom when the company arrives.
There is a knock at the carport door. Pat goes to answer.
"Marilyn," Pat calls, "come here a minute." She walks to the door without thinking. Standing there are a white man and two black men. They all have pistols in their hands. The grim looks on their faces tell her something at once.
They are not wearing masks. They don't intend to leave witnesses.
Marilyn and her husband do not resist. It is already too late for that. They are brought into the master bedroom. Marilyn's mother is brought along, too.
Their only hope is to stall until the guests arrive. Perhaps they will arrive early and frighten the men away.
"Where do you keep your guns?" one of the black men asks. Marilyn tells him there is a pistol in a drawer next to her bed. She leads him to a hall closet where there are two shotguns and a rifle.
"I have about $1,200 in my billfold in my back pocket," Pat Redmond tells the men.
"I have $200 in my purse," Marilyn says.
The men place them face down on the bed. They are side by side. Someone ties their hands and feet.
Marilyn Redmond sees one of the black men tossing things out of her purse, looking for the $100 bills.