Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Jeanne Tovrea

From Cold
to Hot

Logo: Unsolved Mysteries
Logo: Unsolved Mysteries

On April 15, 1992 the popular television series Unsolved Mysteries aired an episode on the Tovrea murder case. The show broadcasted a portion of the answering machine tape with Gordon Philips' voice on it. The initial airing of the show elicited little response to those standing by to receive tips. However, a rerun of the episode landed cold case detective Ed Reynolds his first big break in Jeanne's murder case.

Patch: Phoenix Police
Patch: Phoenix Police

In December 1993, an anonymous caller who was later identified as ex-FBI agent Jeff Fauver, called the police in Phoenix, Arizona and reported that after viewing the episode of Unsolved Mysteries he believed the killer was a man named James C. Harrod, 39, known by the nickname "Butch." The caller stimulated Reynolds' interest by providing detailed information, such as Harrod's address and date of birth. Unbeknown to Reynolds at the time of the call, Fauver was actually a family friend of Harrod's wife Anne, who was then newly separated from him. Several members of Anne's family had also seen the episode and recognized Harrod's voice, although it is not clear if they contacted the police.

Driver's License: James C. Harrod
Driver's License: James C. Harrod

The investigator received yet another call in September 1994, when an anonymous person claimed that Harrod told Anne that he had been involved in Jeanne's murder. Moreover, Anne allegedly found a letter from Harrod to Hap Tovrea, which promised $50,000 to kill Jeanne, Paul Rubin reported. According to the caller, Harrod also allegedly admitted to Anne that he posed as Gordon Philips and had been "present at the murder but wasn't the killer." The caller turned out to be a close friend of Anne's who believed it was time for the truth to come out about Jeanne's death. At the time, Anne had been divorced from Harrod for more than a half year and had already battled too long with the horrible secret that was likely a destructive force in their marriage.

Police Sketch of the Perpetrator
Police Sketch of the Perpetrator

The unexpected tips prompted Reynolds to re-examine the evidence in Jeanne's case. Among the many articles related to her murder investigation, Reynolds rediscovered the answering machine tape with "Gordon Philips'" voice on it. During the search of evidence, he also located phone records between Hap and Harrod in the days leading up to and immediately after Jeanne's murder, taking note of a marked increase in conversations between the men in the week before her death. In fact, according to court records, 1,500 phone calls were made between the two men prior to the murder and "52 of those calls took place the day before the murder."

As the mountain of evidence began to take on new significance, Reynolds decided it was time to talk with Anne and find out what she knew about Jeanne's murder. On November 28, 1994, Reynolds met with Anne under the condition that she be granted immunity from prosecution in connection with the murder. When she felt assured that she wouldn't end up behind bars for revealing the "truth," she told her shocking story.

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