There was no body. There was no forensic evidence. And, it turned out, there was no doubt. The jury in the Manhattan Criminal Courts building listened through a three-month trial as the prosecution wove an iron web of circumstantial evidence around Sante Kimes, 65, and her son Kenneth, 25. Finally on May 18 they convicted the serial scam artists (PEOPLE, April 17, 2000) of all charges—118 in total—relating to the 1998 murder of Irene Silverman, the 82-year-old widow whose $7 million townhouse they coveted.
Sante and Kenneth Kimes’s habit of keeping meticulous notes played a big part in their downfall; entries in 14 notebooks, which included such reminders as “get her s.s.#,” “get signature” and “get checks,” provided the paper trail that jurors followed to convict the Kimeses of a menu of crimes ranging from eavesdropping and illegal weapons possession to conspiracy, robbery and second-degree murder. According to the prosecution, the Kimeses had come to New York City from Florida in June 1998 with the intention of swindling Silverman, a onetime ballerina at Radio City Music Hall, of her townhouse, in which she let rooms. But when Silverman wasn’t taken in by their schemes, prosecutors say, the Kimeses killed her, then disposed of the body. As the jury forewoman intoned the guilty verdicts, Kenneth Kimes turned to his mother and said, “Mom, it’ll be okay.” That was probably yet another miscalculation. The Kimeses face in excess of 100 years in prison on the Silverman charges, and authorities in California want to extradite them on charges of murdering Los Angeles insurance adjuster David Kazdin, 63, a business associate, in March 1998. In that case there is a body—and a possible death penalty.