The notorious mother-son grifter team convicted of the murders of a wealthy widow in New York and a businessman in Los Angeles may have had an incestuous relationship, a detective assigned to the case has revealed.
Aired in an interview Sunday, the assertion comes from Clarissa ‘Cici’ McNair, the private investigator who found herself embroiled in the Kenneth and Sante Kimes case just over two decades ago.
Kenneth, now 50, is currently serving a life sentence in San Diego for the murders, while his mother died in prison aged 79 in 2014.
They were jailed for for the 1998 murder of 82-year-old socialite Irene Silverman, the pair’s landlord at the time, in 2000 – after Sante, a dead ringer for Elizabeth Taylor, plotted to kill her to take ownership of her Upper East Side Mansion.
Sante, played by Mary Tyler Moore in a 2004 TV movie, always denied the killings, but Kenneth – who shot businessman Dave Kazdin after a dispute with Sante in 1998 – confessed in order to avoid either of them being executed.
Sante Kimes and Kenneth Kimes, The notorious mother-son grifter team convicted of the murders of a wealthy widow in New York and a businessman in Los Angeles, may have had an incestuous relationship, a detective assigned to the case said on Sunday
Aired in an interview Sunday, the assertion comes from Clarissa ‘Cici’ McNair (pictured), the private investigator who found herself embroiled in the case just over two decades ago
The case captivated headlines, in part due to intrigue surrounding the initial disappearance of Silverman, a retired Radio City Rockette, but also because of the strange dynamic between the Kimeses, who reportedly had been sharing a bed on the first floor of the townhouse at the time.
‘They were loving and affectionate, but they were also like a couple in many ways,’ McNair theorized to Fox News of the pair and their living arrangement at Silverman’s 65th street townhouse, which she also operated as boarding home.
‘Was it an incestuous relationship? I can’t speak to that,’ the P.I. continued, before going deeper into her work on the case – which began was called in to investigate Silverman’s July 1998 disappearance.
It was then that she first encountered Sante, a comely woman who at the time looked much younger than her 64 years.
‘I did ask her about it, and she was very offended,’ McNair further recalled, quickly adding, ‘But their relationship as mother and son was very unusual.’
She elaborated: ‘He didn’t have friends. No one was good enough for him. He grew up with her as a dominating force.’
She proceeded to paint a picture of a self-involved con woman who had no qualms about swindling with her son – sometimes at his expense.
‘Sante denied everything from the moment I met her in the summer of 1998 through her death in 2014,’ McNair recalled. ‘She had an answer for everything… There were no apologies whatsoever.’
In 1998, the pair killed their landlord Irene Silverman, an 82-year-old former Radio City Rockette who they strangled and then dumped in a dumpster in New Jersey. She was a well-loved figure in her community, and her disappearance and murder grabbed headlines
Kenneth, now 50, is currently serving a life sentence in San Diego for the murders, while his mother died in prison aged 79 in 2014
Sante, a dead ringer for Elizabeth Taylor, plotted to kill her to take ownership of the Upper East Side Mansion with Silverman’s death, allegedly using a stun gun to subdue her in bed before Kenneth strangled her to death
Kenneth, who at the time reportedly slept in the same bed as his mother on the the townhouse’s first floor, has since spoken out about how his mother taught him to kill. In a jailhouse interview while serving a life sentence, he said wants it to serve as a ‘cautionary tale’
McNair continued of the con woman, who denied any wrongdoing up until the day she died in a Westchester County lockup: ‘You couldn’t help but be drawn to her.’
‘She had this… bad energy, evil energy, but she was attractive… She was flirtatious. She would fluff her hair and smile at you with flashing eyes. She could have been a woman greeting you in her home as she called for the butler to bring champagne.’
It was this demeanor that allowed her to not only excel at her craft, but influence her son to serve as her protector – and perhaps more.
In an starkly honest article aired in 2018, Kenneth – while serving a life sentence after pleading guilty to his part in the murders – described in detail how he strangled Silverman at his mother’s behest.
‘My hands are around Irene’s neck, and I can feel the electricity pulsing through this tiny woman as I strangle the life out of her,’ the con – now claiming to be reformed – wrote in an open letter published by Narratively.
‘I am terrified, but I keep my hands around her throat,’ he continues, recalling the memory in the present tense and the first person
‘I don’t want to do this. I want to run. I want to jump on a plane and get as far away from New York City as I can, but I stay committed….
‘Irene lays dead in my hands. She is so fragile,’ he wrote.
The murder happened in the mansion Silverman owned on East 65th Street (center), where the pair reportedly slept together regularly, sources told The New York Post
Silverman was a former ballerina and Manhattan figure who was wealthy. She owned the building where the mother and son duo rented an apartment and they killed her with the intention of taking control of it once she died
Afterwards, he put the elderly woman’s body in the bathtub – also under his mother’s instructions – in an ill-fated bid to take over the posh property when she died.
As part of the plot, they broke into Silverman’s apartment to find her passport and social security number, before going back into their own rented unit to stuff Silverman’s body in a duffel bag.
Kenneth recalled this undertaking in 2018: ‘My mother directs me to put the body in a duffle bag.
‘Her tone reminds me of how she spoke to me as a child: “Kenny, get to bed. Kenny, brush your teeth. Kenny, put the body in the f****** duffle (sic) bag.”
‘I do as I am told. The obedient son. Always,’ he wrote.
Once the body was in their car, the mother-son duo traveled to Trump Tower a few block away for breakfast and to lay low, after Sante had scrubbed the crime scene with rubbing alcohol to make sure there was no trace of them left behind.
‘We sit at a table drinking coffee and eating pastries. How f***** up is this?’ wrote Kenneth, who is now 50, at the time.
‘A woman was murdered by the same hands now wrapped around a cup of coffee.’
Other victims: Kenneth’s first kill was the banker Syed Bilal Ahmed (left) who they killed in 1996 in the Bahamas after he became suspicious over their accounts. In March 1998, Kenneth shot Dave Kazdin (right) after he became involved in a dispute with Sante. Sante had forged his signature to get a $280,000 loan
He went on to offer a narrative that described how his mother had mistreated him his whole life, and recalled how the only times he was free of her influence was when she spent five years in prison when he was a kid.
Also arrested was her husband, California real-estate mogul Kenneth Kimes Sr – both on slavery charges after the pair’s maids told Mexican authorities that they had been beaten and imprisoned in the couple’s home, The New York Times reported.
According to the outlet, Kimes served five years while her husband served three, with Kenneth just ten at the time. He would go on to attend collage before finding himself under his mother’s yolk when his dad, a wealthy motel owner, mysteriously died – the first in a string of deaths culminating with Silverman’s.
After Kenneth Sr.’s death, his son wrote, Sante discovered that her spouse had been keeping much of their fortune in offshore accounts in the Cayman Islands and the Bahamas, and raked in thousands as a reuslt.
Their use of the funds eventually piqued the interest of banker Syed Bilal Ahmed – a Bahraini officer at the First Cayman Bank in the Cayman Islands who had met mother and son in the Bahamas.
He was suspicious of the pair and it cost him his life, Kenneth wrote – revealing how they drugged him, drowned him and threw his body in the Atlantic ocean in 1996.
Despite Kenneth’s confession, they were never arrested for that murder.
This police photo, released in July 1998, shows Sante Kimes – who served as a domineering and potentially romantic role model over her son
Next was the killing of David J. Kazdin, a Las Vegas property owner who knew Kimes and her late husband. In 1998, his body was turned up in a trash bin near the Los Angeles airport.
After Kenneth was sentenced to life in prison, He said his mother planned Kazdin’s killing and sent him to do the job.
He testified that he shot Kazdin in the back of the head at close range and that someone he found at a homeless shelter helped him dispose of the body.
While the Kazdin murder happened first, it was only linked to the pair after they were arrested in New York City – after documents uncovered by cops’ in Silvermans’ residence revealed how the landlady had already suspected the pair were up to no good.
Evidence in their car built the case for Kazdin’s murder – causing Kenneth, after years of following his mom’s example, pleaded guilty to the businessman’s death in 2003.
In 2004, Sante was convicted in California, and she was later sentenced to life in prison. Kenneth said his mother decided to kill Kazdin, an old friend, after Kazdin found out that she had taken out a $280,000 loan by forging his signature.
At the time of the Kimeses’ sentencing, authorities discerned Kenneth strangled Silverman, and that he and his mother put her body in garbage bags and disposed of it somewhere only they knew.
Mary Tyler Moore and Gabriel Olds star in Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes, a 2001 TV movie
A police search of their car and luggage found guns, a knockout liquid, plastic handcuffs, fright masks, syringes, tapes of Silverman’s telephone conversations and a fake deed to Silverman’s home.
For her part in that murder, Sante was sentenced to 120 years in prison. Her son received 125 years, as well as a life sentence.
Kent Walker, Sante’s estranged son, said in his book Son Of A Grifter, that his mother – the daughter of an Oklahoma prostitute who often lied about her past – was from a good family who were unable to cope with her wild ways.
In one of her wildly varying stories about her upbringing, Kimes claimed that her father was a laborer and her mother a prostitute who left Oklahoma for LA, leaving her young daughter to fend for herself.
Kimes also committed insurance fraud and arson so she could collect on property damage.
He also recalled how the late con was also a skilled grifter – once even managing to gain access to a Ford administration reception at the White House by introducing her husband as an ambassador.
After more than a decade and a half in prison, Sante died in her cell at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility in Westchester County in May 2014.
Had it not been for her son’s confession, she would likely have been executed for the killings.
The PI said Sunday that the duo’s case – often coined ‘Mommy and Clyde’ – proves there are ‘sociopaths everywhere… And I think in this case, we had one sociopath who created her son in her own image’
In his article, Kenneth – still serving life – lamented how difficult it was to go against her after years of obedience.
‘To escape the death penalty, I cut a deal and confessed. My mother would not cooperate, even to save my life. She insisted that we carry on with our lies of innocence, so I testified against her to save us both.
‘After two days of confessions, I went back to my cell and wrote in my journal: “Tattle Tell, Tattle Tell, too bad you’re going straight to hell. I am no longer the son who will do anything for his mother, but I’m still a murderer. Only now I get to live. I am the Narc who escaped the Needle. The Piece of Shit Who Doesn’t Get to Walk the Green Mile.
‘Just spent the last 10 minutes vomiting. I ratted my mom out. If I didn’t, we would both go to death row. Now we get to live. I feel dead already … God have mercy on us. No one else will.’
McNair added of the pair’s presumed motive and potential relationship: ‘Sante was a very powerful, highly intelligent, ruthless, reckless woman.
‘She manipulated her lawyers. She manipulated me… She was a femme fatale who lured lovers, husbands, bankers and lawyers.’ she said.
‘And when she wanted something, she would stop at nothing until she got what she wanted. And I think Kenny was pulled into her web. He was willing to do her bidding… I also think they fed off each other.
‘When Kenneth Sr. died, they became closer as mother and son… These daring escapades of stealing credit cards, using fake disguises, checking out of hotels without paying – it was exciting to them.’
She further told Fox that the duo’s case – often coined ‘Mommy and Clyde’ – proves there are ‘sociopaths everywhere.’
‘They’re not a rare species,’ she said. ‘They’re clever, they’re often very attractive, and they’re used to getting what they want. There is no sense of guilt.
‘And I think in this case, we had one sociopath who created her son in her own image.’