Who that "confidential source" was — Ortloff says it wasn't him or one of his family members — surely will remain a question mark. Kelly Hocker died years ago.

In the end, what isn't a question mark is that telltale footprint in the condo flowerbed — the size 9 1/2 or 10 print that isn't anywhere near big enough to be Robert Ortloff's size 13.

Last October 16, defense attorney Patterson finally got to interview Rick Schibler, who brought his own attorney with him to the County Attorney's Office for the session.

Tom Carlson
Kathleen Smith
Kathleen Smith

It was one day shy of 23 years since Tempe police had asked Schibler how he'd known about the blow to Kathleen's head before it had become public information.

During the session, Patterson asked Schibler, "What size of shoe did you wear back then in 1984?"

"Nine-and-a-half, nine," Schibler replied.

"Okay, all right," Patterson deadpanned.

To be sure, Patterson will be posing that question again to Schibler at Robert Ortloff's trial.

OCTOBER 5, 1984
(all times but the 10:42 call are approximate)

7 a.m. Kathleen Smith drops off her boyfriend at her mother's home in Tempe, then attends a class at Mesa Community College.

9:50 a.m. Robert Ortloff's mother calls his home from Fiesta Flowers. Jennifer Spies answers, lies about Ortloff's whereabouts, and says he is on his way to work. Actually, she doesn't know where he is.

10–10:30 a.m. Richard Schibler claims to have gashed a finger in his Subway store on 10th Street and Mill Avenue.

10:40 a.m. Two eyewitnesses see a man fleeing from the direction of Kathleen Smith's condo. The man leaves a perfect footprint in a flowerbed a few yards from the condo's front door.

10:42 a.m. Tempe Fire Department dispatches two engines to SceneOne Condominiums.

10:30–11 a.m. Witnesses see Robert Ortloff at Fiesta Flowers, about 10 minutes from the Kathleen Smith crime scene. No one notes any sign of injuries to Ortloff.

11:15 a.m. Richard Schibler checks himself into Tempe St. Luke's Hospital to receive stitches for his cut left ring finger.

Early afternoon Ortloff and others are informed at Fiesta Flowers about the fire at Kathleen Smith's condo and the discovery of a body inside. Ortloff claims to have injured himself sometime afterward in the back of his shop.

4 p.m. Tempe police speak with Ortloff for the first time and notice the scratches to his neck and that he is limping (broken toe).


February 1984 Robert Ortloff and Kathleen Smith start ROKS Incorporated hoping to become Subway restaurant franchisees.

June 1984 Ortloff embezzles $7,500 from his grandfather.

October 1, 1984 Ortloff repays grandfather with ROKS business funds.

October 5, 1984 Kathleen Smith is murdered.

January 1985 Someone puts a homemade bomb in a Subway owned by key Smith murder case figure Rick Schibler.

June 1985 Ortloff's live-in girlfriend, Jennifer Spies, gives immunity-protected statement to prosecutors, then abruptly leaves Arizona for California. Does not implicate Ortloff directly in murder.

September 1985 The Maricopa County Attorney's Office declines Tempe PD request to seek murder indictment against Ortloff.

November 1985 Tempe PD and FBI meet in strategy session about Ortloff and the two cases (murder and attempted bombing) in which he is the prime suspect.

January 1986 Ortloff is arrested in the mail-bombing of U.S. Army Specialist Thad Gulzcynski at Fort Hood, Texas.

June 1986 A federal jury in Waco, Texas, votes 10-2 to acquit Ortloff of all mail-bomb charges. The judge orders a mistrial.

August 1986 Ortloff is convicted of all mail-bomb charges, and later is sentenced to 50 years in prison.

March 1993 The Office of the Inspector General releases its findings on a major scandal inside the FBI crime lab. One of those excoriated is bomb expert Tom Thurman, a key witness at Ortloff's 1986 trials.

January 1999 Ex-prosecutor-turned-murderer Fred Tokars is transferred to a federal prison in Wisconsin, where Ortloff is serving time.

March 1999 A friend of Tokars tells members of Kathleen Smith's family that Ortloff has confessed to Tokars that he murdered the young woman.

April 1999 Ortloff is not granted parole and is told he will have to wait 15 more years for reconsideration.

July 1999 Tokars tells a Tempe police detective that Ortloff confessed to him.

May 2003 Ortloff is indicted on first-degree murder and other charges by a Maricopa County grand jury.

February 2008 Ortloff's murder trial in the courtroom of Judge Warren Granville begins.

Next week: How Robert Ortloff landed in prison and later met infamous jailhouse snitch Fred Tokars, who conned cops into believing that Ortloff confessed to murdering Kathleen Smith.

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