By Ray Stern
By New Times
By Amy Silverman
By Stephen Lemons
By Stephen Lemons
By Monica Alonzo
By Chris Parker
By New Times
Michael called Kathy and claimed Cindy had left the apartment early that night after getting a call from an angry man.
Annette and Kathy decided that one of them should go to Cindy's apartment. Annette knew Michael far better than did Kathy, so she took on the task. Once there, she called the Mesa police.
The police responded and interviewed Michael and Annette. After they left, Michael passed out drunkenly. Annette stayed by the phone, praying for a call from her friend.
A panicked Kathy Monkman called another friend for advice.
"She told me, 'I don't believe a word that guy is saying,'" Kathy recalls. "I crumbled and fell back on the bed. I've never felt that way before. The first thing I said was, 'Oh, my God--the life-insurance policy!'"
Kathy then called Cindy's apartment. Annette Clay answered the phone.
"I told her, 'You need to get out of there,'" Kathy says. "She wrote down the rental car information and she left."
At a loss, Kathy phoned her parents in Illinois. They recommended that she fly home as scheduled that morning. Kathy left Cindy's airplane ticket and a note at her own apartment--Cindy had a key.
She then flew east, sobbing the entire way.
Michael Apelt visited agent Doug Ramsey three times in the days after Cindy's body was discovered. Ramsey said later he wasn't quite ready to think the worst of Michael, though his boss certainly was.
"The first day, Mr. [Richard] Franko said, 'Well, Michael did it,'" Ramsey told police. "I said, 'I never would say that.'"
Michael didn't specifically ask Ramsey if and when he would get the $400,000 he assumed would be coming to him. But, with Ramsey's help, he used the insurance money as collateral and borrowed money from a bank for airfare to Cindy's funeral in Illinois.
Michael's brother and Anke Dorn joined him.
"He played the doting-husband role," Kathy Monkman-Nimon says, "and it was disgusting. There were undercover cops, though we didn't know it at the time. My parents were still open-minded then, but I made the decision that these people weren't to cross the threshold of our family's home.
"At the funeral home, they're sitting in the back--Rudi is wearing my dad's suit, for God's sake. I walked up to them and shook their hands, but I also telegraphed a message with my eyes--`You're not bullshitting me. I know what you did, you sons of bitches, and it's a matter of time.'"
Shortly after returning to Phoenix, the Apelt brothers and Dorn flew to Los Angeles. Dorn later testified they paid a homeless man $20 to record a message on Cindy's answering machine.
The trio told the man to read the note precisely as written. It said:
"Hear what I have to talk. I have cut through the throat of your wife and I stabbed and more frequently in the stomach in the back with a knife. If I don't get my stuff, your girlfriend is next and then our brother and last it is you. Do it now, if not, you see what happens. My eyes are everywhere."
The message would become a devastating piece of evidence against the Apelts. Experts testified it mirrored how an English-deficient German would have composed a note.
Michael called a Mesa detective to report the recorded "threat." He took the tape down to the station, fearful, he said, for his life. The cops played along, but they were closing in on the Germans: The life-insurance policies on Cindy and Michael's inconsistent stories were about to sink them.
On January 6, 1989, the police asked the trio to come to the station. They separated Dorn from the brothers. Within a few hours, she told detectives what she knew.
On the same day police arrested the Apelt brothers, one Banner Life vice president wrote a memo to another:
"There seemed to be a great deal of pressure on Ramsey's part for a quick issue [of the $300,000 policy]. Ramsey said he only wanted to show the other agents how smooth underwriting goes through Banner and on a timely basis. This was apparently the problem they were having with Surety."
But Ramsey told police a different story. He said Cindy had told him she wanted to show her father the policies during her short trip home. That was the reason for the rush job.
The damage control already was starting.
In the weeks after Cindy's murder, Jack and Marjorie made inquiries with Surety Life and Banner Life about their daughter's life-insurance policies.
It wasn't about money for the Monkmans--the couple is independently wealthy.
But they knew that Michael Apelt would be ineligible to collect any death benefits if convicted of murder. And they wanted to know why Cindy's estate--of which Marjorie Monkman was to be the executor--shouldn't be entitled to the $400,000.
"For whatever reason, Cindy had bought the insurance," Jack Monkman says, "and she did it in good faith. The money wouldn't help us with our loss, but we planned to use the money as some kind of memorial for our daughter. That's the least they owed her."