A Hap-less Case

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"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."

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Paul Rubin
Contact: Paul Rubin