Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sante and Kenneth Kimes: A Life of Crime

A Victim Vanishes

Carved stone face above the Silverman mansion door
Carved stone face above the
Silverman mansion door

The gray limestone mansion at 20 East 65th Street in New York City was designed to ward off evil. The builder had put a carved stone face above the double front door when it was constructed at the turn of the 20th century. The godlike sculpture was there for good luck. Wings sprang from the head and its fierce mouth was open, snarling at all who passed by. Legend said the god flew away at midnight in search of bacchanalian revelry, returning each dawn to guard the entrance of the great city house and its occupants within.

On the morning of July 5, 1998, the great carved face failed to do its job.

On this Sunday after the most celebratory of American holidays, East 65th Street was silent. New York's Central Park was a block in one direction and Madison Avenue intersected the eastern end of the street. The night before had been full of gala events. Gotham was still sleeping.

A strange pair was taking advantage of the slumbering city. They emerged from the mansion dragging a huge suitcase, bickering so loudly that small birds flew away, alarmed in their perch in the tree next to the house. The woman making most of the noise had a voice that grated, like a long fingernail scraping slowly across a blackboard. The twenty-something young man with her was tall and muscular, nearly handsome with his wavy hair. There was something about his eyes, though. He had a frightening stare. And nobody would have guessed that the older woman was not only his mother, but also his lover and soul mate.

The woman giving orders had been pretty once. Some would say beautiful, because she had been mistaken many times for Elizabeth Taylor when she was younger. But she had gotten soft and plump with age. Time had not been kind and her black hair, usually covered by a wig, was flecked with gray. She was not happy if someone learned her age was 65.

Her son was struggling with the suitcase, and she barked at him to be more careful. There was a reason for that. As he dragged the luggage towards the stolen green Lincoln Town Car, you could see that it was leaking small, dark drops. They were small dots waiting to be connected. Red dots. He was leaving a trail of blood behind him.

Sante Kimes
Sante Kimes

As the city slept off its holiday hangover, the man lifted the heavy bag and heaved it into the cavernous trunk of the Lincoln. When he slammed the lid, the woman again yelled at him for creating the noise, even though her own voice was much louder.

 

The woman's name was Sante Kimes, and she had been arrested and charged 14 times for crimes that ranged from shoplifting to keeping slaves. There had been much, much more, of course, but she was smart. Most of the time she hadn't been caught.

 

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