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.

An answer may lie in what Anne couldn't have known unless authorities had tipped her off.

One of those things came to light when Reynolds turned on the Unsolved Mysteries video toward the end of his first session with Anne. She said she'd seen the segment once before.

"I stopped the tape at the point where the narrator mentions the point of entry," his police report recalls. "Anne advised me, 'He knew the window was not on the security system. He talked about the kitchen window--was where to gain access . . .'"

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Her declaration was crucial, because police had closely guarded that detail since 1988.

According to Reynolds' report, the videotape then reached the Gordon Phillips phone message.

"Anne began to scream loudly, 'Stop it, I can't take it anymore.' Anne then began to cry hysterically. I asked her, 'Was that Butch's voice on the tape?' Anne stated, 'Yes. He's a bad person, bad person."

In interviews with authorities after Butch Harrod's arrest in September 1995, Anne added details about the alleged murder plot:

She said the date of the murder, April 1, had been intentional--"[Butch] had told me prior to that day that they were going to set it up as an April Fools' joke."

Anne said she recalled that Hap Tovrea had phoned Butch the morning after the murder:

"He will talk to Hap that morning. The phone will ring, he answers the phone, he goes out on the patio. . . . And he comes back in and I say, 'Was that Hap?' And he says, 'Yes,' because Hap was supposed to call him in the morning after it had taken place." (Phone records show a 15-minute call from Hap Tovrea's business line to Butch Harrod's home at 10 a.m. on April 1, 1988.)

Finally, Anne described her mental state on the night of March 31, 1988, when she said she'd known her husband was leaving their home to participate in a murder:

"In my heart of hearts, as I'm standing there in the foyer, I am one step away from the phone, and I'm one step from him walking out that door, and I'm evaluating my family and my life and this woman's life . . ."

It remains to be seen how much Anne will be allowed to tell jurors. Butch Harrod allegedly said these things when he and Anne were marries: That means the "privilege"--akin to that between doctor and patient--may allow her to testify only about what she saw, not what her ex-husband may have told her.

For her own reasons, Anne had stayed silent for years. Now, she had opened the door to a prosecution.

The Maricopa County Attorney's Office in September 1995 took the next step. It gave Phoenix police the go-ahead to arrest Butch Harrod for murder.

Next week: The accused gunman sounds off.

Key Dates in the Tovrea Murder Case

1973
Cattle mogul Edward A. Tovrea Sr. weds Jeanne Gunter, his third wife.
July 1983

Edward A. Tovrea Sr. dies. His widow, Jeanne, is named co-executor of his vast estate.

April 1985
All communication between Jeanne Tovrea and her three stepchildren--Hap, Cricket and Prissy--ends after a bizarre incident involving Ed Sr.'s ashes.

July 1987
Jeanne Tovrea and her daughter meet in Newport Beach, California, with a man who says he is a writer named Gordon Phillips.

November 1987
Jeanne Tovrea buys $2.7 million in additional life insurance, paying a premium of $500,000.

April 1988
Jeanne Tovrea is shot to death at her home.

September 1995
James "Butch" Harrod is arrested and charged with murdering Jeanne Tovrea.

December 1995
Authorities search Edward "Hap" Tovrea's California home and office.

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