Thursday, September 29, 2011

Partners in Crime

Cici McNair, P.I. (Guest Blogger)

I am a private detective and I love my work. I leap with energy towards a new case like a Doberman goes for sirloin. It’s been seventeen years since my first day in Vinny Parco’s office—April Fools Day, 1994. My firm, Green Star Investigations, handles cases all over the world; these cases range from missing persons to money laundering, from stolen art recovery to rape and murder.

I wrote about how and why I became a private detective in Detectives Don't Wear Seat Belts. Growing up in Mississippi, traveling the world, drinking champagne with gunrunners, going undercover for the FBI and OCID (Organized Crime Intelligence Division of the NYPD) and the Joint Terrorist Task Force, dealing with the Born to Kill gang in Chinatown, and the Middle Eastern counterfeiters west of Broadway---great fun. Cases in Italy, Paris, Costa Rica, all over.

What kinds of killers team up to commit their crimes? Lovers, all kinds of lovers. Family members. A professor of forensic psychiatry called the Moors murders, which horrified everyone in England in the mid 1960s, “concatenation of circumstances” that brought together “ a young woman taught to hand out and receive violence from an early age and a man who was a sexually sadistic psychopath.” The killers of the Petit family in Connecticut became friends at a halfway house.

The two-killer crime I am most knowledgeable about is the disappearance of Irene Silverman. It was the stuff of tabloids. Sante and Kenny Kimes were the mother and son from Las Vegas accused of murdering Mrs. Silverman, the 82 year old widow who lived in a 5 story limestone mansion on East 65th Street between Madison and Park Avenues. It was July the 5th, 1998. She disappeared that day and the mother and son were arrested that afternoon. A week later I was asked to work on the defense team on behalf of the Kimeses. To be their private detective.

I was suddenly immersed in credit card scams, insurance fraud and money laundering. There were corporations—real and dummy—with documents signed by people, alive and unwilling or dead. It was arson, incest and missing corpses. My first murder was not anyone hit over the head with a beer bottle. It was international and it was amazing. The Silverman case was a landmark conviction in the state of New York: there was no body, no witness, no confession, no weapon and no DNA.

Sante Kimes was the daughter of a prostitute and, as a little girl, roamed the streets of L.A. looking for food. She married three times , had a son by her second marriage and later, at nearly forty-one years of age, gave birth to Kenny. He was special. He was the heir to his father’s fortune of millions. Not allowed to go to school, he was educated by tutors, kept close to his mother. Kenneth Kimes, Sr., had houses in Hawaii, the Bahamas, Palm Springs, Las Vegas and the family of three traveled in style. When Sante was sent to prison for keeping slaves, (another story) Kenny said it was the happiest time of his life. He was adored by his elderly father and went to a regular school, had friends. When Ken Kimes, Sr , died, in 1994, Kenny dropped out of college and became very very close to his mother. Some say unnaturally close.

In 1998, they embarked on a transcontinental crime spree culminating in their arrest for the murder of Irene Silverman. A few years after the NY conviction, I was asked to be the consultant to the defense team in Los Angeles in yet another murder trial. If things had gone the way the DA hoped, Sante and Kenny would have been the first mother and son executed in US history.

The mother and son are, in fact, a couple. Con artists, grifters, attractive, highly intelligent and charming. I know them well, observed them from close range for years. Sante still writes me from prison. Sante Kimes is a very bright, very dangerous psychopath.

Sante Kimes was sentenced to 120 years and Kenny to 126. They both planned the murder, but he actually committed it. I wrote about Sante in Never Flirt with a Femme Fatale. One part is the story of me and Sante Kimes, woman to woman, and her life story in her own words. Working as her private detective for years, I got to know her as well as anyone ever will. The other story in the book is of another femme fatale, a beautiful Vogue cover girl. Both murders took place in midsummer on the Upper East Side on Sunday mornings, twenty years apart. Both involved powerful, fascinating women who trusted me, who talked about seduction, manipulation, betrayal and murder.

Cici McNair has her own agency, Green Star Investigations. In addition to her work as a PI and her two books, she founded Fedora Press to meet the needs of “so many writers--good writers--who can’t get published because they can’t get an agent and they don’t want to go the self-publishing route." For more about Cici and what she does, see, and


Elizabeth Zelvin said...

Thanks for joining us on Poe's Deadly Daughters, Cici. For me, you've made being a PI sound both glamorous and creepy. :) And good luck with your publishing venture.

Sandra Parshall said...

Fascinating information, Cici. Thanks for being here today.

J.P. Hansen said...

Holy cow! What hasn't McNair done? Darn, I'm dull, sitting in my basement writing every day.