Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Sante and Kenneth Kimes: A Life of Crime

Laverne & Shirley

On her high school graduation day in June of 1952, Sante told everyone within listening range that she was going on to college, get a degree and become a journalist. Instead, three months later, she married a high school sweetheart, Lee Powers, and divorced him three months after that. After that she did a six-week secretarial course at a Reno Business School and bounced around for two years in northern California — San Francisco and Sacramento — with her friend Ruth Tanis, alternating between office work and college courses. By most accounts, it was a grand time.

"We were like Laverne and Shirley let loose in the big city," recalled Ruth Tanis, remembering their salad days.

Sante eventually returned to Carson City and married another high school admirer, Edward Walker, in 1956. There would be a child from that marriage, Kent, but the union didn't last long. Her husband accused her of stealing and shoplifting, and indeed, she was arrested in 1961 in Sacramento for petty theft.

Disgraced, she ended the marriage and returned to the streets of Los Angeles, where she alternated between prostitution and other crimes. Court records show she was arrested for grand theft in Los Angeles in 1965, and auto theft a few days later in Norwalk, California.

"Let me tell you the story of the car theft," one of her former lawyers, now retired, said. "Sante walked into a Cadillac dealership and conned the salesman into letting her test-drive a convertible. Alone, of course. And, of course, she never came back and drove the car for months as if she owned it. When the police caught up with her, she told them she had been given the car to test-drive, and that's what she was doing — still test-driving it!"

The names of Sante Singhrs and several aliases were filling up police blotters in Southern California. There was a charge against her in Glendale in 1968, and another grand-theft charge in Riverside the next year. She also worked as a prostitute in Palm Springs.

Contact with her adoptive parents ended, and when Mary Chambers died of cancer in 1969, Sante didn't even attend the funeral. By now, Sante was looking for the big score, something or someone who could put her on easy street for the rest of her life. She began looking for a soul mate that thought the same way and enjoyed the rush, the thrill of stealing just like she did.

Perhaps it was fate. His name was Kenneth Kimes, a hustler just like her. He was worth nearly ten million dollars when she met him. That wealth still did not stop them from attempting to con all who got in their way, including the president of the United States. They would produce a son, Kenny, who would be trained from birth to behave as if he were the devil's spawn on earth.

 

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