A Hap-less Case

Try as they might, Phoenix police have not been able to get the evidence they need to charge Jeanne Tovrea's stepson in her murder.

"You want to put this all together for me?" Hap asked.
"I'm just trying to put together some pieces . . ."
Reynolds referred to an August 1988 notebook entry by a now-retired Phoenix police detective that had mentioned Harrod.

"What does that have to do with the pawnshop?" Hap asked.
"Because this name [Harrod] came up with the documents. So, this guy is doing this for you. Makes these consultant deals, he's calling you every other day in 1989, and you met him maybe a few months before that through mutual friends. Is that correct?"

"Mmm hmm."
". . . But when [the detective] interviewed [Harrod] in August of 1988, he says that he was trying to get in touch with you then."

"He might have been trying to get me interested in China, I don't know. . . . Weird."

"Had you ever discussed the fact that you had a murder in your family or anything like that with him?"

"I wouldn't. It's something I really don't discuss."
(Harrod says he and Hap discussed Jeanne Tovrea's murder often; the first time was about eight hours after police found her body, in a 15-minute phone call from Hap.)

Under further questioning, Hap recalled he might have met Harrod around the time of the Panama Canal embargo in early 1988. He said mutual acquaintances had told him Harrod might provide information about the canal and problems of shipping sulfur.

Reynolds asked Hap if he'd ever taken Harrod to Lincoln Hills Estates, where the murder occurred.

"No, I never take strangers home."
Cricket Tovrea and Randy Force reentered the room. Reynolds tipped off his sergeant that he'd mentioned Harrod. The sergeant said Harrod's name hadn't rung a bell with Cricket.

(Records show Harrod phoned Cricket Tovrea's home 163 times between July 1990 and November 1991--after his calls to Hap had stopped. Harrod tells New Times he was trying to collect money from the long-abandoned China deal--Cricket "was an officer in MECA, and, if Ed Jr. wasn't going to pay me, maybe she'd come through with what I had coming to me. She didn't." Cricket didn't respond to requests for comment.)

She left for a dentist's appointment, leaving her brother alone with Reynolds and Force.

It was time to turn up the heat.
Reynolds played the Gordon Phillips tape.
"Who's that? You know that voice?" he asked Hap.
"Maybe."
The detective replayed the message.
"And you don't recognize that voice?"
"I can't be sure."
"Who do you think it is?"
"I don't know."

"It sounds like Harrod's voice. Or is it Harrod's voice? Whose voice is on that tape?"

"Well, he said he was Gordon Phillips, and that was the guy that was supposedly the writer."

"If that is Harrod on that tape . . ."
"Then that's news to me."
"But, does it sound like him?"
"Well, it may be."

Reynolds showed Hap a composite sketch drawn in 1989 by a police artist. It was based on information provided by Jeanne Tovrea's daughter, Deborah Nolan-Luster--who'd met Gordon Phillips briefly in July 1987. (During a December 1996 lineup at Madison Street Jail, Nolan-Luster identified Harrod as the man who called himself Gordon Phillips.)

"Now, who does that look like to you?" Reynolds asked Hap.
"Yeah, it kind of looks like him. Mr. Harrod. Kind of."
"So when you look at that composite or when you listen to the voice of Gordon Phillips, who does that voice sound like?"

"Well, you know, I don't want to implicate somebody that's innocent."
"Would there be any reason for the two of you to be having contact frequently in, let's say, the first four months of 1988?"

"I don't think so . . . unless I don't remember some stuff. . . . If we went to China in March or April of '89, things got started in earnest probably three months prior to that. I can kind of remember a three-month real busy time preparing for it."

Reynolds moved in.
". . . In the 10 days before your stepmother's death, Jim Harrod phoned you 33 times."

"Wow. . . . You're asking me to try to remember things that are a while back. I mean, don't start pointing some finger at me here."

"I'm pointing a finger at you."
"If this guy is a stalker weirdo, you know, I'm not part of this. But I find this all very interesting."

Reynolds mentioned the fingerprints that police had recovered from the Tovrea murder scene years earlier, but had been unable to identify until a day earlier.

"Old Mr. Harrod got himself in a DUI not too long ago where they took his fingerprints." (The detective was using time-tested and legally defensible interrogation techniques to move things along--he was lying.)

"And guess what, right?" Hap replied.
"You tell me."
"I know exactly what you're leading up to. I'll bet his fingerprints were at the crime scene."

"Yep."
"That's great."
"His prints are inside the house. . . . Comes down to, he's now in jail. We arrested him last night."

"That's great."
"Guess what he says."
"Oh, I cannot wait to hear this. What?"

"He says that you've hired him to kill your stepmother." (Harrod had said nothing of the sort.)

"Oh, fuck him."
"Did that ever occur?"
"No."
"You never hired him to kill your stepmother?"
"No."
"How about to arrange to have someone kill your stepmother?"
"No. . . . You guys must have a psycho on your hands here."

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