A Hap-less Case

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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.'"

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin