The Suspect's Sidekick

It was an arduous trail that led investigators in the Jeanne Tovrea murder case to accused killer James "Butch" Harrod. A common sight en route was Edward "Hap" Tovrea Jr.

The investigation of Jeanne Tovrea's murder took several left turns.
In the early 1990s, for example, authorities spent considerable time trying to sort out leads provided by Joe Calo, a hit man who has admitted to committing seven murders. Calo is serving 10 life sentences in Arizona.

Calo alleged that Jim Majors--a former associate now on death row in California for a triple murder--had killed Jeanne Tovrea for some Phoenix mobsters.

He claimed Jeanne had served as a courier of drugs and laundered money for the mob, mostly for thrills. Jeanne "knew too much" about the mobsters' operations, the killer said, and, therefore, had to die.

Calo crafted his tale from bits and pieces gleaned from media accounts and, possibly, his interrogators. County prosecutors eventually determined that Calo's story, while enticing, didn't pass muster.

Stymied Phoenix police contacted the television show Unsolved Mysteries. The episode on the Tovrea murder first aired April 15, 1992. It would lead to Butch Harrod's arrest three years later.

The broadcast let the public in on many previously undisclosed details: The killer had gotten into Jeanne Tovrea's home through a window, then had set off the alarm by exiting through a door.

Most important, the episode aired a portion of the Gordon Phillips phone message, deleting only his reference to Hap Tovrea--"I had a little problem with Ed Jr."

The Arizona Republic published an update on the fifth anniversary of Jeanne's murder, headlined: "Tovrea slaying still Valley mystery; Socialite's homicide lacking motive, suspect."

Everyone close to the case knew it lacked nothing of the sort. What police didn't have was a suspect in the shooting.

That would change in 1994.

In September 1992, Phoenix detective Ed Reynolds became the latest investigator to grapple with the Jeanne Tovrea murder case. The original detectives had retired, and the agency had shipped the files to its "cold case" squad, whose investigators try to solve old crimes.

Reynolds' acquaintances describe him as a bulldog, a requisite when you're working cold cases. The officer pored over the reams of material on the Tovrea murder.

In January 1994, he caught some huge breaks.
First, an anonymous caller told a police secretary that a James C. Harrod might have been involved in the Tovrea murder. The caller left Harrod's name, address and date of birth.

Soon after that, Reynolds himself spoke with another anonymous caller. This person said he'd seen a repeat of the Unsolved Mysteries episode, and recognized Gordon Phillips' voice as being "identical" to Harrod's.

The second caller said Harrod had told him he was an ex-bodyguard who "has bragged that he could have people taken care of." The man added that Harrod had told him he'd once worked for Hap Tovrea.

In April 1994, Reynolds pulled a box of miscellaneous evidence on the Tovrea case from the Phoenix police property room. A binder in the box contained Hap Tovrea's phone records from 1988.

Reynolds noted that Hap Tovrea had phoned a James C. Harrod 33 times in the 10 days preceding Jeanne's murder, after which his calls to Harrod had nearly stopped.

Reynolds also found the one-page, handwritten account of the short August 1988 police interview of Harrod.

In September 1994, according to police reports, Reynolds spoke with yet another caller who wanted to remain anonymous.

This caller said a man named "Butch" had been bragging about his role in the Tovrea slaying. Butch had told his ex-wife, Anne, about his involvement in the murder plot. Anne allegedly had seen a letter from Hap Tovrea to Butch that promised Butch $50,000 to kill Jeanne.

The caller had more: Butch had admitted--it's not clear to whom--that he'd posed as Gordon Phillips. Butch had been present at the murder, but wasn't the killer, the caller said, adding that an FBI agent knew all but apparently hadn't acted on it.

Reynolds went to the Maricopa County Clerk's Office, and found a copy of James and Anne Harrod's divorce decree. That led him to Anne's last known address, which in turn led him in early November 1994 to Anne's mother and brother.

The mother, Sue, also mentioned the FBI agent at the start of the interview with detectives. She said the agent was Jeff Fauver, a longtime family friend from Albuquerque, and that she had told Fauver everything she knew.

Around 1990, Sue said, her daughter Anne had told her that Harrod was sleeping with a loaded gun under his pillow. Anne also had told her that Hap Tovrea owed Butch $50,000, but Anne didn't know why.

One day, Sue continued, she saw a newspaper story about a land sale involving the Tovrea family trust. She'd mentioned it to Harrod, who'd remarked that the sale would mean he'd get the money owed him by Hap.

Anne's brother, Mark, mentioned the Unsolved Mysteries program, and how Gordon Phillips' voice had reminded them of Harrod's. Sue then offered a stunning piece of information.

From Ed Reynolds' police report:
"Anne had talked to [Sue] about Butch knowing about the Tovrea murder. Anne had said that Butch told her that the Tovrea murderers had actually been in their home. This scared Anne to know this. Butch told her that she was safe as long as she stayed married to him."

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