For one thing, Ortloff's family apparently had been pressuring him to repay $7,500 that he stole from his paternal grandfather, Anthony, in June 1984.

Levy will allege that Ortloff took $7,000 out of the ROKS business account to pay back that ill-gotten gain without Kathleen's knowing about it.

The prosecutor says Kathleen discovered that the ROKS account had been almost depleted by Ortloff's sneaky move, and she'd been planning to go to her bank hours before she died to ask questions.

Kathleen Smith was a champion rider for most of her 20 years.
Kathleen Smith was a champion rider for most of her 20 years.
Rick Schibler, seen here on a cow, is Subway Corporation's longtime Arizona development agent.
Rick Schibler, seen here on a cow, is Subway Corporation's longtime Arizona development agent.

Under the state's theory, Ortloff murdered her before she got there, and before Kathleen or others went to the police or to her volatile father.

Another stated motive is that Ortloff stood to collect $125,000 in two insurance policies on Kathleen's life that listed him as sole beneficiary. For various legal reasons, he never did collect any of that money.

Fred Tokars is expected to testify Ortloff told him that he went to Unit 110 with a small container of gasoline and rope, intending to strangle Kathleen and then burn her and the condo to destroy incriminating evidence.

Ortloff's adversaries point to scratch marks visible on his neck after the murder and to a toe he broke that day as circumstantial evidence of a brawl at the condo that ended in Kathleen's homicide.

But actual physical evidence against Ortloff was (and still is) nonexistent. Just as important, the circumstantial evidence against Ortloff is anything but ironclad.

For example, witnesses — some of whom are no friends of Ortloff's — told police they had seen him about 10:30 a.m. at Fiesta Flowers, the shop at 48th Street and Southern that he was managing.

That was 10 minutes or so before anyone noticed the smoke wafting out of Kathleen's condo.

Keep in mind that Tempe fire investigators have said (contrary to what Fred Tokars later would allege) the condo ignited almost immediately because of the gasoline. That would have been about 10:42 a.m., which is when the first 911 calls came in, right after Lisa Pickett and Ina Weisbaum saw the fleeing man and then saw smoke coming out of Unit 110.

Ortloff always has claimed he got the easily visible neck scratches at the flower shop later that day when a particle-board shelf fell on him as he slipped off a ladder in the back room. As for the broken toe, he says he kicked a cabinet in dismay after learning shortly after noon about the discovery of a body at Kathleen's burned condo.

That account will be corroborated at trial by witnesses who saw Ortloff at the flower shop in the home immediately after Kathleen's body was found but observed no scratches on his neck or any signs that he'd hurt his toe, such as a limp.

Despite all that, Ortloff certainly fit as a solid suspect.

But there were others, including Rick Schibler, who then was (and still is) the Subway chain's development agent for Arizona.

Then 39, Schibler had opened the state's first two Subway franchises in 1982 — one on 10th Street and Mill Avenue and the other at 48th Street and Southern, next to Fiesta Flowers.

Shortly before she was murdered, a fuming Kathleen Smith told her mother that she was thinking about contacting Subway's home offices in Connecticut after learning that Schibler had "stolen" her preferred franchise site for one of his family members.

One reason for her anger was that the replacement site Schibler had identified for her and Ortloff's proposed franchise already had been a financial disaster, with no end in sight to the troubles.

Schibler's alleged breach of ethics (which he denied in an interview with Ortloff's attorney last October) might not have sat kindly with the bosses of a company then on the cusp of making a major move in Arizona's fast-food market.

Also to be considered is the personal relationship that Kathleen and Schibler had developed before her death.

How personal remains unclear, and Schibler has denied any romantic entanglements with her, but one of Kathleen's best friends said in 1985 that Schibler definitely had designs on Kathleen.

A private investigator asked a former roommate of Kathleen's in 1985 whether Schibler ever had spent the night at the condo with the young woman.

"I think he did, but I'm not sure," the roommate answered.

Schibler's account of what happened to him during the critical morning hours of October 5, 1984, and what he told police afterward also raises serious questions:

Schibler has said that he sustained a gash to his left ring finger at his Subway shop sometime after 10 a.m. that day and necessitated a trip to a hospital for 12 stitches. But corroboration of how he injured himself and what he did immediately thereafter is shaky.

Just as disturbing is what Rick Schibler said to detectives when they interviewed him a few days after the murder. Tempe detective Gary Lindberg referred to those unrecorded statements in a second session a week later.

"You asked me if I thought she had suffered," Lindberg told Schibler. "I told you we couldn't go into specifics.

"You made a comment that you didn't understand why somebody would hit her on top of the head and then burn her place. Was that from you, were you drawing a conclusion from all your conversation with other people, or what?"

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