But within a few weeks, Ortloff stole a check from his grandfather, forged the older man's signature and cashed it. It, too, was for $7,500.

"Although I could have asked my parents, Carol Smith, Kathleen, or my girlfriend Jennifer's father for a loan, I did not and foolishly wrote a check," Ortloff wrote to New Times in 2006, the only time he's admitted anything that could be construed as criminal wrongdoing.

"My grandfather learned of this and was naturally upset and disappointed. Kathleen was upset that I hadn't asked someone for a loan . . . She gave me a company check and told me if I needed to pay my grandfather immediately, just do it. She only told me to tell her if/when I wrote it."

Tom Carlson
Kathleen Smith
Kathleen Smith

Ortloff insists he did tell Kathleen about wanting to pay Anthony back with ROKS funds for the theft, and that she covered for him with her father shortly before she died by simply saying they needed more money to open the restaurant.

David Smith said later he had agreed to free up more money through the line of credit but would do so only after studying the ROKS bank statements.

That would have posed a problem because of the glaring $7,000 ROKS check signed by Robert Ortloff on October 1. It was made out to his father, William, who passed it along to Anthony).

Prosecutor Levy will attempt to prove that, contrary to Ortloff's explanation, Kathleen knew nothing about the $7,000 check Ortloff had written. He will allege that Kathleen had just learned that the ROKS account had plunged to less than $1,000, which had thrown her for a loop.

The money crunch for Ortloff and Kathleen shortly before her murder was palpable.

The pair had learned that unforeseen and expensive plumbing problems were cursing their new site in Mesa, the one Rick Schibler had picked for them.

The anticipated October 1 opening of their Subway restaurant would come and go.

Kathleen Smith's friend, Donna Lowe, said in 1985 that Kathleen asked her on October 3, 1984, for a $4,000 loan to tide things over.

Lowe said she didn't have the money. She described her friend's mood as "real down, but not desperate."

That night, Lowe met Kathleen at Rustler's Rooste, a Western-style steakhouse on Phoenix's South Mountain. Also present were Robert Ortloff, Jennifer Spies, and Sam Caley Jr.

Lowe has said that Kathleen told her privately that night about having lost a ROKS checkbook. Worse yet, Kathleen allegedly stated that $8,000 in the ROKS account was unaccounted for.

Lowe says she asked Kathleen whether she'd suspected Robert Ortloff of stealing the money. Kathleen said no.

Kathleen left that night with Caley. The others stayed awhile, and Lowe shared a few dances with Robert Ortloff, the man she later came to believe murdered her friend.

October 4, 1984, would be Kathleen Smith's last full day of life.

Early that evening, she went to her mother's home in Tempe, where Caley was living. Carol Smith said later that Kathleen's mood had been dark, mostly over the troubles plaguing the Subway franchise and the depletion of the ROKS account.

But Caley told detectives after the murder that he believed Kathleen had been most stressed about her personal account. He recalled that she'd told him it was overdrawn by $1,100. Actually, she had all of 69 cents in that account when she died.

Kathleen and Caley left together in her car for the condo. Caley later told police that Kathleen had performed oral sex on him before they went to sleep, but that they hadn't had intercourse because she was menstruating.

That would only become important in light of the "moderate amount" of seminal fluid (along with a tampon) discovered in Kathleen Smith's vagina during her autopsy.

A pathologist estimated that the semen had been in Kathleen for 15-18 hours, which couldn't have been right because she'd been dead for 21 hours by then.

Last year, defense attorney Patterson asked retired Tempe detective Hal McCormick whether police had tried to compare the semen with that of any suspect.

"I believe they did it by blood type and stuff like that," McCormick replied, "and it didn't match anybody in this case that we had submitted blood [to the Arizona Department of Public Safety] on. It basically excluded them, I guess you can say."

The three names that the now-retired detective recalled were Robert Ortloff, Rick Schibler, and Kathleen's boyfriend, Sam Caley Jr. But McCormick's memory may be faulty on this critical issue.

No police reports exist to suggest that blood ever was drawn from Ortloff or Schibler, and Caley was equivocal in a recent interview about whether he had given a sample. Caley told detectives in an earlier interview that he hadn't had sexual intercourse with Kathleen for several days.

So, as the Ortloff trial begins, the vital questions of who deposited the semen and when remain unanswered.

Kathleen dropped Caley off at her mother's home about 7 the next morning. Carol Smith told police that she'd heard Caley come in and go to his room.

Kathleen then drove to Mesa Community College to take an hour-long psychology test (her professor confirmed her attendance). She was supposed to go from there to work and then, according to her mother and others, to First Interstate for a scheduled appointment with her banker.

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