Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sante and Kenneth Kimes: A Life of Crime

One Scam After Another

Sante kept getting arrested for grand theft, petty theft, and schemes that involved claiming an item had been stolen from her home, putting an inflated price tag on it, and getting an insurance company to cough up a check. Often houses owned by Ken and Sante would mysteriously burn to the ground and an insurance firm would have to write an even larger one.

Sante narrowly escaped prison for stealing a mink coat from the Mayflower hotel during another trip to Washington in February of 1980. That caper was been a doozy.

A woman named Katherine Kenworthy had draped her dark ranch mink over a chair in the Mayflower's Town and Country lounge. Sante, who had already been noticed because of her resemblance to Elizabeth Taylor, focused on the coat. As Ken distracted the woman with conversation, Sante strolled over, slipped it on, then put on her own fur coat over it and sauntered away.

"Did I really see that?" a witness to the event, Rena Beachy, asked her companion. When Kenworthy reported the coat stolen, Beachy's description of "a fat Liz Taylor" to both the police and the hotel staff pinpointed Sante, who was staying in a suite with Ken and little Kenny on the 7th floor.

When the police showed up at the door, they found the coat. The initials had been freshly cut out with a razor blade. There were also several other mink coats, all with the labels and any identifying features removed. Additionally, there was a man's topcoat that had been reported stolen.

Sante was charged with the theft of the fur coat; Ken, with the men's coat. The two hastily posted a $4000 bond and left town.

Over the next five years, Sante kept getting her trial delayed by always having letters from mysterious doctors in Mexico sent just before trial. The notes said she was either too ill to travel or was about to have an operation. Ken lucked out when the owner of the topcoat died before his trial and the charges were dropped. In 1985, Sante was finally brought to trial, but as the testimony ended and the jury deliberated, she again skipped town. The jury convicted her, but a few days later another phony letter was presented that said she had been hit by a car crossing a street just before the verdict and had flown home for treatment. Her lawyer then said she had been convicted while absent and that was illegal. The ploy worked: Sante won on a technicality.


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