Son of a Grifter: The Twisted Tale of Sante and Kenny Kimes, the Most Notorious Con Artists in America: A Memoir by the Other Son
Kent Walker, Mark Schone
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In 1998 a troubled young man and his flamboyant mother were arrested for murdering a wealthy widow in her New York City mansion. Suddenly, America was transfixed by a pair of real-life film noir characters, an Oedipal team of scam artists who left a trail of blood, lies, and larceny from coast to coast. The media couldn't get enough of the twisted relationship between Sante Kimes and her twenty-three-year-old son Kenny.
But the most chilling story of all was never told -- until now. Kent Walker, Sante's elder son, reveals how he survived forty years of "the Dragon Lady's" very special brand of motherly love and still managed to get away.
As a child Kent watched his mother destroy his hardworking father, Ed Walker, and then -- with Kent's painful collusion -- snare what Sante called "my millionaire." When she married seemingly respectable real-estate developer Ken Kimes, it was a match made in hell.
For the next two decades Kent's mother and stepfather indulged in a globetrotting orgy of criminal behavior, laying waste to each other and anyone who got in the way. Kent, their would-be recruit, was privvy to the family business -- torching houses, defrauding friends, crashing White House parties, "shopping" for trunkloads of fur coats -- and Sante's self-serving style of adultery. When Kent's half-brother, Kenny was born, Kent was twelve years old -- old enough to know that he was his younger sibling's only protector. Kent tried desperately to save Kenny from his mother's sinister bidding. His failure haunts him to this day.
Here, with shocking and sometimes brutal frankness, Kent explodes the romantic Hollywood image of the grifter as antihero and exposes the truth about Sante Kimes behind the headlines. Sone of a Grifter poignantly chronicles what it means to love somebody despite your better instincts, your worst fears, and even your most forbidden hopes.
and the rest of the human race. Something was missing inside her. She couldn’t recognize the signs of love. It was news to her that after twenty-odd years together I cared about my stepdad. But she saw the tears, so she put her hand on my arm in a consoling gesture. She had no way of knowing that not all my crying was for Ken. The tears were because I wished it were her on that metal table instead. 26 KONA Mom’s friend Kay Frigiano almost never came to the Geronimo house without
was ecstatic when the video screens lowered from the cabin ceiling. In-flight movie, deliver me from Sante. It wouldn’t matter if it was Ishtar. If it was Star Trek, that would really shut Mom up. Instead it was Intersection, a bomb that starred Richard Gere. Mom watched in relative silence for an hour. Then an ambulance rushed Gere’s character to an emergency room, and as he lay dying on the gurney, Mom let out a banshee wail. I ripped off my headphones and tried to comfort her. She was making
innocent act of buying a car proved my mother and brother’s undoing. In February Mom had become Sante Kimes again long enough to place a call to an automobile dealership in Cedar City, Utah. My stepdad had been a loyal customer of Parkway Motors, which was in the southwest corner of the state, a four-hour drive from Vegas. He’d bought a series of behemoths there, Caddies and Lincolns, always a year or two old, because when he wasn’t gambling or paying lawyers he was tight with a buck. Mom told
and told him “Manny Guerin” was already in custody. Mom and Kenny’s luck had run out. Now the New York cops scoured the Lincoln. They understood why the jack was in the backseat and the trunk was empty. They sifted through the contents of the garbage bags in the backseat. Besides clothes, they cataloged pepper spray, a tape recorder, the semiautomatic Glock handgun Patterson had purchased in Vegas, unused hypos, handcuffs, license plates from Nevada, Florida, and Georgia, a container of the
business was thriving, but he was still wary of doing anything that might infuriate her, like representing me. She scared him more than the Mob did. “At least those people have rules they live by,” he explained. “You can predict their behavior.” Soon Dominic and I were looking for reinforcements. We met with a second, even better-known attorney, from Los Angeles, Howard Weitzman. He wasn’t a stranger in Sante’s circle either. The same man who’d briefly represented O. J. and then run Universal