When the New York State Police arrested Sante Kimes and her son Kenny Kimes on an unrelated grand theft charge, they had no idea they were responsible for Irene Silverman‘s murder. The octogenarian, who went missing from New York City in 1998, was never found, but authorities soon found evidence that suggested foul play. CNBC’s ‘Blood and Money: High Society Schemers’ chronicles the shocking incident and follows the investigation that led straight to Sante and Kenny Kimes. Well, let’s study the facts surrounding the crime in detail and find out more, shall we?
Who Were Sante and Kenny Kimes?
Sante’s eldest son and Kenny’s brother, Kent Walker, shed light upon their upbringing on the show, as he claimed their mother would teach them to steal and crawl through windows when they were kids. Incidentally, their father, Kenny Kimes Sr., had a dysfunctional relationship with her, and she took control of the children once he passed away. From then on, Kenny was involved in a life of crime, and reports mention that his mother had a lengthy criminal record, including arrests for petty theft, wrongful restraint, and slavery.
Kenny, too, grew up idolizing such behavior and learned how to shoplift and run a con from a young age. On top of it, sources also state that both Sante and Kenny were suspects of killing their family friend, David Kazdin, who was found near the Los Angeles Airport just months before Irene went missing. Readers would be surprised to know that the mother-son duo learned about the 82-year-old from her butcher and decided to run a con on her. They knew that Irene was an extremely wealthy widow who would rent small apartments in her multi-million-dollar New York City townhouse.
Hence, Kenny took on the identity of Manny Guerrin and rented a place from Irene while Sante joined her son as his assistant, Eva Guerrero. When the widower disappeared from her New York City residence on July 5, 1998, the housekeepers immediately suspected Manny, as he had a rocky relationship with the homeowner. Besides, authorities learned that Irene was planning on evicting him, which was a possible motive for murder. However, a quick search of the rented apartment provided no leads, although the house staff helped the police draw sketches of the suspects.
Once detectives shared the sketches with local police stations, they learned that two suspects fitting the descriptions had already been arrested for an unrelated grand theft charge. The suspects, identified as Sante and Kenny Kimes, insisted they had nothing to do with Irene’s disappearance. Yet, the police found Irene’s credit card, $10000 in cash, and the rental apartment key in their possession, which led to an arrest. Still, with the Kimes refusing to confess, authorities continued their investigation and came across the duo’s car in a local garage.
Although the vehicle contained a stun gun, a 9 mm handgun, unused needles, Rohypnol, and a black duffel bag, no concrete evidence connected Sante and Kenny to Irene’s disappearance. Nevertheless, authorities soon received a significant breakthrough when they listened in on a call Sante made from prison and learned that she needed a personal investigator to recover a bag from a nearby hotel room.
A bag search revealed incriminating evidence, including several notebooks detailing the con and false identification and social security numbers for Manny Guerrin and Eva Guerrero. Besides, authorities also found a forged deed claiming Irene had sold her townhouse to the schemers for a mere $300,000. This evidence was enough to take the suspects to trial, and the police were confident of their chances, even though Irene Silverman’s body remained missing.
Kenny Remains Behind Bars While Sante Passed Away in Prison
When produced in court, Sante and Kenny Kimes pled not guilty to the charges against them. Nevertheless, the jury believed otherwise, and they were each convicted of three counts of second-degree murder, one count of robbery and conspiracy, 16 counts of forgery, and 29 counts of eavesdropping. Moreover, the jury found Kenny guilty of two additional counts of possessing a forged instrument. As a result, in 2000, Sante was sentenced to 120 years in prison, while Kenny faced a 125-year jail sentence.
In October 2000, a few months after his conviction, Kenny took a journalist hostage while behind bars. He demanded that Sante should not be moved to California, where they both faced charges for the murder of David Kazdin. Yet, he eventually accepted a plea deal and agreed to confess to the murders of Irene Silverman and David Kazdin if prosecutors took the death penalty off the table.
As a result, the state of California sentenced Kenny to life in prison without parole in 2004. He remains behind bars at the RJ Donovan Correctional Facility in unincorporated southern San Diego County. On the other hand, Sante spent her days behind bars at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Bedford, New York, till she passed away on May 19, 2014, at 79.