A Hap-less Case

Part 1 of this series established that animosity between Jeanne Tovrea and her stepchildren led to estrangement and litigation. It showed how James "Butch" Harrod, the man accused of killing her, continues to proclaim his innocence despite the damning presence of his fingerprints at the crime scene.

Part 2 examined the arduous trail that led investigators to Harrod and to Harrod's onetime business associate, Edward "Hap" Tovrea Jr.--the victim's stepson. But Harrod remains the only person charged in the case.

Part 3, the final installment, describes police interrogations of Harrod and Tovrea. Among other revelations, Harrod also provides an alibi for the night of the murder, April 1, 1988.

James "Butch" Harrod was working on his car outside his Ahwatukee home in the late afternoon of September 14, 1995.

"A lady strolls up and asks me if I'm Jim," he recalls. "'Sure am.' Next thing, the cops pour in like it's Desert Storm. They tell me I'm under arrest. I thought it was for some tickets I hadn't taken care of. I thought, 'Man, you have had one hell of a bad run these last few years."

Harrod's friends and foes agree he's a chronic braggart. But, for once, he wasn't exaggerating.

His wife, Anne, left him in late 1993; their divorce became final in February 1994. They had relied on her income much of the time, and after the divorce, Butch Harrod floated from job to job, project to project, barely making ends meet. He sold ads for a Wickenburg radio station, started a contract-labor firm and managed a rock 'n' roll singer. Each venture had failed.

In September 1994, Harrod filed an application with the Arizona Banking Department as a prelude to seeking a job as a home-loan officer. He listed his work record from March 1988 to August 1994 as "a self-employed consultant."

The application asked why he had left that job. "Losing money," he wrote.
When police arrested him, Harrod was working for a Tempe mortgage firm. It doesn't appear, however, that his new career was paying off. In June 1995, an insurance company had canceled his homeowner's policy for failure to pay the premium. And in August 1995, Harrod sought help with his house payments from the City of Phoenix's Hardship Assistance Program. (He never got any.)

But if he believed his fortunes had hit the skids, he hadn't seen anything yet.

Butch Harrod was about to be accused of one of Arizona's most storied crimes--the April 1, 1988, murder of wealthy heiress Jeanne Tovrea, who was shot in the head five times as she slept in her Phoenix mansion.

"You're Butch, that right?" detective Ed Reynolds asked the 41-year-old suspect in an interrogation room at the Phoenix Police Department.

"My nickname, yeah," Harrod replied.
The simple exchange marked the start of a verbal dance that would last more than an hour.

Reynolds' goal was twofold: He wanted Harrod to confess to murder, and he wanted to know who, if anyone, had put him up to it.

The detective started by asking Harrod for a brief employment history. Harrod mentioned his most recent job as a loan officer.

"What did you do before that?"
"I set up barricades."
"Just labor, then?"
"Yeah . . . about nine months."
"What did you do before that, then?"
"Umm, just do whatever I could for money. Buy and sell things."
"What would you describe yourself as, then?"

"At that time, I was like a consultant. Somebody who wanted to do something. . . . I was importing from Hong Kong and from Korea. So what I do is, if somebody wanted to get something over there, I'd get a list of the places they could go to get it. Sometimes I'd actually go there."

"So what type of merchandise are you talking about?"
"Tennis shoes, sports bags and stuff, the little nylon wallets."
"Did you do any other type of consulting work?"
"That's it."

Reynolds prodded him about other consulting jobs. Harrod recalled he'd done consulting work in China "on a couple of occasions" with a Scottsdale man named Jason Hu.

The detective decided it was time to get to the point: "Right now, you're under arrest, okay. You're under arrest for murder."

"For what?"
"For murder. The murder of Jeanne Tovrea . . ."
"I know Ed Tovrea," Harrod responded evenly, without a hint of indignation.

He was referring to Jeanne's stepson, Edward "Hap" Tovrea Jr., a former business associate of Harrod's.

Reynolds didn't read Harrod his Miranda rights against self-incrimination after accusing him of murder. Instead, he immediately played a message that someone calling himself Gordon Phillips had left on Jeanne Tovrea's answering machine in late 1987.

Phillips claimed to have been a writer seeking an interview with Jeanne about her late husband, Edward Sr. But the man turned out to be a fraud. In July 1987, he had frightened Jeanne and her daughter, Deborah Nolan-Luster, when he had met with them while they were vacationing in California.

The 30-second phone message ended.
"That, Mr. Harrod, is your voice," Reynolds told him.

"There is no doubt in my mind that you organized and set up the murder of Jeanne Tovrea. I know who hired you. I know how much you were told you would be paid for it. I know how much money you actually received for doing it. . . .

"I want you to think about one thing," Reynolds continued. "If you were Hap Tovrea, and you had hired somebody to organize this murder for you, you'd be prepared that if that person was ever arrested, or if you, Hap Tovrea, were arrested, you'd be prepared with a story. . . .

"I want the man who first said, 'I want this done,' or woman. I want that guy number one, he's the tops on my list. That guy's gonna go away forever. And I also want the man or men that put the bullets in her body. . . . You've got the opportunity, right now, to make yourself a very valuable person to us. Make yourself that valuable to us."

Harrod's responses were monosyllabic. He didn't flinch even when the detective said Harrod's ex-wife, Anne, was "gonna give you up in a heartbeat."

(Anne had alleged to police that her ex told her he'd plotted Jeanne's murder with Hap Tovrea. Hap, who has not been charged, did not respond to New Times requests for comment.)

"What's it gonna be?" Reynolds asked Harrod.
"I guess I'm gonna talk with somebody about this. I'm shocked."
"You need to talk to me."
"I guess I need to talk to an attorney, too, if I'm under arrest."

Police officers usually end their interrogations when a suspect requests an attorney. But Reynolds continued as if Harrod hadn't invoked his Miranda rights.

He told Harrod that police just had matched 19 of his prints with those at the crime scene.

"I have no idea what's goin' on here," Harrod reiterated. "I need to talk to somebody to find out what's going on here."

After several more minutes, the detective finally read Harrod his rights. He quickly added:

"This is the only opportunity you're gonna get. When those bars clang behind you, we got the consultant. We have to live with that. 'Cause only the consultant can give us number one, number two and number three . . . What is it, Butch? I don't hate you, and I don't think you're the ruthless, cold-blooded killer."

"I'm not a killer."
"You're the consultant, aren't you?"
"I'm nothing."

"Aren't you? Hap Tovrea asked you to arrange for the murder of his stepmother, didn't he? Butch, look at me. He offered you a hundred grand to be the consultant. To set it all up, didn't he?"

"Can I get a glass of water, please?"
Reynolds had someone fetch the water.
"I know what's gonna happen," the detective continued. "You're gonna go to jail. All the evidence is gonna come back to you. Bird in the hand, easy slam dunk, put him away. . . . You were Gordon Phillips, the nonexistent person that met with Jeanne Tovrea, weren't you?"

Harrod asked Reynolds if he could phone his sister, June Barney.
"Um, I'm under arrest," Harrod told her. "I've been charged with murder. . . . I've been accused of, was it Jeanne Tovrea? That lady that was killed up in north Scottsdale. I wanted to let you know where I'm at . . ."

After Harrod hung up, Reynolds replayed the Phillips tape, then blurted:
"That was you, wasn't it? At least give me the decency to say yes or no. Deny it, I don't care."

Harrod didn't bite.
Reynolds left the room, and his supervisor, Sergeant Randy Force, took over.
"This is a hell of a first offense, Mr. Harrod," Force told Harrod.
"Hmm. Yeah."
"You went straight to the big time."
"I had no idea what was going on."

"Well, I won't debate that with you. I suspect that you've been lookin' over your shoulders for a long time. . . . We're not stopping with you. We're gonna keep digging on this until we have everybody that we can show was involved. I have a feeling what Hap is gonna tell us. I don't expect he's gonna say, 'Well, yeah, I hired him. I'm as much to blame for all this as he is.' He's gonna say, 'I don't know what you're talking about.'"

Reynolds returned.
"I have a question," Harrod said. "If I have been a suspect in this for quite some time, why hasn't someone come out there before?"

"The suspect's always the last person to be picked up," Reynolds explained. "Since I got involved in 1992, it's taken me this long to get to this point. It's a big case."

"I obviously haven't gone anywhere."
"So, are you denying involvement?"
Harrod's answer was odd.

"I'm just saying that, as far as if anyone ever wanted to talk to me, I've always been . . ."

"Are you denying involvement? You're saying that you're sittin' at home because you're not involved in this at all?"

"No. I'm just sayin' if people wanted to talk to me about anything, I've always tried to cooperate."

Reynolds told Harrod he planned to meet with chief deputy county attorney Paul Ahler, who had visited the murder scene in April 1988 and still was on the Tovrea case.

"He's the top dog," Reynolds said of Ahler. "And I'm gonna go to him and say [you] didn't give me squat. Didn't tell me nothin'. Slam dunk. 'Cause all of the evidence points to you."

Harrod tells New Times that the detective added another comment after he turned off the tape recorder: "He told me, 'Jim, you're gonna be living here until you give up Hap Tovrea.' I didn't say a word."

Phoenix police kept a lid on Butch Harrod's arrest for about 24 hours. They wanted their shot at 45-year-old Hap Tovrea in La Jolla, California, before he learned of it.

Ed Reynolds scheduled an interview with Hap in La Jolla for the day after Harrod's arrest. No big deal, he told him, we just want to catch up on a few things. Reynolds and Randy Force flew to Southern California on the morning of September 15, 1995.

Reynolds had developed a circumstantial case that pointed to Hap Tovrea's involvement in a murder conspiracy: Hap had a motive--Jeanne's money; and police had identified crime-scene fingerprints as matching those of his ex-business associate, Butch Harrod.

But Harrod hadn't confessed.
Hap's older sister, Georgia (known as "Cricket"), was present at the start of the interview, according to a transcript obtained by New Times.

"About two months ago, I recovered a whole stack of documents from a pawnshop that belong to the Tovrea family," Reynolds told the siblings.

"No kidding," Hap replied.
The pawnshop reference was a ruse by Reynolds to lead Hap down the path he wanted.

Sergeant Force asked Cricket if he could interview her separately.
Alone with Hap, Reynolds told him a name had come up in the alleged pawnshop investigation. He said it happened to be the same name he'd seen in a dusty evidence box of Jeanne Tovrea's murder.

"I'm trying to think of the guy's full name. Let me see here if I've got it. I keep thinking Butch or something like that. Harrod, that's the name. Butch Harrod. James C. Harrod."

"Now I know a guy by that name," Hap replied.
"What do you know about him?"
"I used him on a consulting project for China years ago. . . . I don't know him that well."

"What was the deal in China?"
"We have mining properties down in Chile that are sulfur properties. And China had some sulfur properties that needed some development, and so there was kind of an invitation to come to China and see if they were developable. And I did that and turned it down."

"Okay, how much work did he do for you?"
"Oh, a few months."
Though Reynolds wouldn't discuss the case with New Times, it's safe to assume his adrenaline was pumping. He knew Hap had paid Harrod thousands of dollars over a yearlong period through his mining firm, MECA (Minerals Exploration Corporation of the Americas).

"How much would you say that cost you?"
"A few thousand dollars. . . . There was the plane tickets and there was consulting fees and all that. It was kind of a waste of time and money, but it was worth a shot because you can get your leg up in China, it was fine. And I remember right after that, Tiananmen Square blew up. Perfect timing."

Reynolds narrowed the questioning.
"Now, in that time you're only dealing with him on . . . business."
"Yeah, I've just met this guy," Hap said, speaking of late 1988 and early 1989--months after Jeanne Tovrea was murdered.

"When did you go to China?"
"I went to China in March, April '89, '90." (It was March 1989.)
"So, almost a year after your stepmother was killed?"

"And you knew him for about, you say, a three-month period of time during that?"

"I would say we probably worked for about three months prior to going to China. Getting visas and all the bullshit together. I find this interesting."

Reynolds knew Hap and Harrod had spoken incessantly on the phone for about four years, from 1987 to 1991. But he wasn't ready to play his full hand.

"So, did you meet him around the time that you did the China thing?"
Hap recollected something.
"No, you know what. I knew him before that."

"Can you give me a rough guesstimate as to how much it was that you owed him for the consultant work?"

"Well, I think it was $3,000 a month as it was going on and it probably went on for six, seven months or something like that. But I mostly worked with Jason."

Jason was Ji Sheng Hu, an associate of Harrod's in two failed ventures in China--a mid-1980s shrimp-farming project and the sulfur-mining deal with Hap.

"And what would Harrod do in these China visits?" Reynolds asked Hap.
"Nothing. Just be there."
"He connected you to Jason Hu and that's what he got his $3,000 a month for?"

"Mmm hmm."
"When was the last contact you had with this Harrod guy? Was it after this China deal?"

"Pretty much after the China deal. I had no reason to talk to him anymore. There might have been one or two calls after that . . ."

"How often would this guy call you?"
"After China?"
"Hardly at all."

Actually, phone records show Hap and Harrod had spoken a few hundred times after the March 1989 China trip. But Reynolds still wasn't ready to tighten the noose.

"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.
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."

"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?"
"You never hired him to kill your stepmother?"
"How about to arrange to have someone kill your stepmother?"
"No. . . . You guys must have a psycho on your hands here."

Sergeant Force interjected with a strangely conciliatory comment: "If there was any evidence or proof of anything that [Harrod] has told us up to this point, I think you realize we'd be having this conversation at a police station in handcuffs, not here sitting in your office chatting."

"This was a hell of a sleigh ride," Hap said.
Force told Hap what the cops wished Butch Harrod had told them: "This wacko lays out this scenario that you approach him because Jeannie stands between you and your sisters' inheritance, and that she's spending the interest and from the trust account."

"Oh, it's sexy, isn't it?" Hap said sarcastically.
"And that you offer him a large sum of money to coordinate her demise. On the surface of things, that's as good a motive as any."

"So how do I know this perfect stranger is a person that can do this?"
"Well, he's not a perfect stranger if you're calling him 33 times in the 10 days before this happened."

"Well, you know what I mean. I mean a relatively new acquaintance . . ."
"What if he produces a tape with your voice discussing with him the murder of your stepmother?" Reynolds asked Hap.

"That I'd like to hear."
(Anne Harrod had told police that her ex-husband had claimed to possess such tapes. But they have never turned up.)

"In the future, if such tapes do turn up, you're not gonna say, 'I was extorted, he threatened me, he would kill me if I didn't go along with it?'"

"I can't remember any of that."
"Can't remember any of that?"

"We're talking about probably the biggest thing that ever occurred in your life."

"Well, I'm remembering that it didn't [occur]."
". . . Originally, you didn't want to talk to me because everybody had always pointed the finger at you and accused you. Everybody was saying, 'The stepchildren did it because that was their inheritance she was spending.'"

"Here's something else we can document," Hap responded. "We never knew about an inheritance."

(To the contrary, testimony in civil cases filed by Hap and his sisters shows Jeanne's stepchildren did know they would collect a large sum after Jeanne died. After taxes, attorney's fees and other expenses, they each netted more than $600,000.)

"Well, this is like a novel," Hap continued. ". . . I mean, this has got to be some sick mind that's taking all this coincidence and blending this into some bullshit scenario. I feel like I've been kind of set up now."

It's unclear if Hap meant he'd been set up by Harrod or by the police.
The interview neared its end.
"Will you take the polygraph test, Hap?" Force asked him.
"Are you an innocent man?" Reynolds blurted.
"Would you have any problem taking the polygraph today?"
"What do you mean, maybe?"

"Back a long time ago, I believe you guys asked me and my sisters to do this, and we asked our attorneys and they said, 'Don't do it.'"

"Is that what you're gonna do again, ask your attorney again?"
"We can assume, then, your attorney will say, 'No, don't do it?'"
"This thing is too weird, guys. You know I had nothing to do with it."

His voice dripping with sarcasm, Reynolds responded, "We're not gonna ask you questions like, 'Did you kill your stepmother?' and stuff. We're just gonna ask you questions like, 'Did you pay him to arrange to have your stepmother killed?' Simple little questions like that."

"Well, the answer's no and that's that," Hap concluded.
The cops had taken their best shots at both Butch Harrod and Hap Tovrea, but hadn't won any confessions. They returned to Phoenix that night without Hap Tovrea. But because of Hap's apparent attempts to diminish his relationship with Harrod, the detectives were even more certain Hap had been involved in the murder plot.

Believing something and proving it in court are vastly different things.

How often did Hap Tovrea and Butch Harrod discuss the Panama Canal? How much was there to say about sulfur mining in China?

The pair phoned each other more than 1,300 times from mid-1987 to mid-1991, an average of almost once per day. Records obtained by New Times show an increase or a decrease in the number of calls at key points in the Tovrea murder case's chronology:

* After noticing a flurry of calls between Harrod and Hap in the days leading up to Jeanne's murder, police scheduled an interview with Harrod for August 8, 1988. Harrod called Hap 11 times in the week before the interview. They spoke for 22 minutes a few hours after Harrod was interviewed.

* Phone records show Harrod called Hap 77 times from February 1988 until the end of April 1988. Hap called Harrod seven times that March 31--the day before Jeanne was murdered. And records show that Harrod was the second person Hap called long distance on the morning of that April 1. His first call was to a family friend, from whom, he later told police, he'd learned of Jeanne's murder.

* Police accounts indicate "Gordon Phillips" met with Jeanne Tovrea and her daughter in Southern California during the Fourth of July 1987 weekend. The record of calls between Hap and Harrod does little to refute the suspicion that Harrod masqueraded as Phillips. On July 4, Harrod phoned Hap four times, the last call at 2:53 p.m. Harrod's first call to Hap on July 5 was at 12:25 p.m., followed by calls at 5:35 p.m. and 10:10 p.m. The next toll call Harrod made from his home wasn't until July 8, when he called Hap. That gap between calls might exist because Harrod wasn't home on July 6 or 7. Authorities are convinced he was in California.

Police on November 30, 1995, served a search warrant on Hap Tovrea in La Jolla. The cops searched his home and office, then seized his bank records from four San Diego-area institutions. But they didn't arrest him.

Hap hired Tom Henze, one of Arizona's most formidable criminal defense attorneys. Henze, who declined to comment for this story, has been playing both sides--prosecution and defense.

Butch Harrod's sister, June Barney, says Henze visited her months ago at her Phoenix home, politely digging for updates about her accused brother. Henze also has cooperated with prosecutors, voluntarily turning over documents police didn't seize in the late 1995 raid at Hap's home and business.

The documents indicate Hap paid Harrod about $35,000--more money than authorities previously had suspected--over a 15-month span. Harrod claims he was paid less than $14,000.

Harrod's mother and stepfather, meanwhile, have put up most of their life savings to retain respected Phoenix attorneys Mike Bernays and Tonya McMath. The pair undoubtedly will mount a spirited defense of their accused client.

But short of a dramatic explanation, those close to the case agree, Harrod's telltale fingerprints at the crime scene make the chances of his acquittal slim.

Law enforcement authorities called a press conference in Phoenix hours after the detectives finished grilling Hap Tovrea in California.

Butch Harrod's arrest on a first-degree murder charge was a bombshell. But Maricopa County Attorney Richard Romley and Phoenix police chief Dennis Garrett offered few details.

"There are other aspects to this homicide that we're looking at," Romley said, "and to comment right now would be a bit premature. . . . I do not believe this is the whole story with the arrest of Mr. Harrod."

Neither Romley nor Garrett mentioned Hap Tovrea.
A few days after Harrod's arrest, the late Phoenix Gazette opined about the Tovrea case in an editorial titled "The mystery remains."

"They call it the cold case file," it said, "where the only leads police have for solving some crimes seem as chilled and lifeless as, well, the corpses in the morgue.

"Such was the celebrated murder of Jeanne Tovrea, attractive widow of wealthy Arizona rancher Ed Tovrea, murdered in her sleep in April 1988. An assailant put a pillow over her head and pumped five pistol rounds into her body.

"The mystery, the questions remain, even as police arrested an Ahwatukee man last week and charged him with murder. In time, County Attorney Richard Romley assures us, we will know how the alleged killer, James Harrod, managed to elude a manned security station at her upscale complex and a double-alarm system to enter Mrs. Tovrea's home . . .

"Was it a murder for hire? If so, who else was involved?
". . . A close-mouthed Mr. Romley said the evidence would become clear as the case develops in court. Until then, we wait and wonder, encouraged that a determined investigative team persevered in this high-profile murder, but puzzled why it took so long."

James C. "Butch" Harrod has been held at the Madison Street Jail since his arrest. He awaits a jury trial in the death-penalty case before Superior Court Judge Ronald Reinstein, probably later this year.

Key Dates in the Tovrea Murder Case

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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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin