It's a chapter of history that wealthy La Jollans — who obtain their legions of domestic servants through a variety of sources, legal and not — would most likely rather forget.
In early August of 1985, a squad of FBI agents swooped down on the residence of Ken Kimes, a wealthy real estate investor, and his wife Sante, and arrested the couple for enslaving their maids.
"The complaint alleged the Kimes beat and imprisoned a cleaning woman who traveled with them to Hawaii," the Associated Press reported the next day. "The woman was not allowed to use a telephone or write to anyone and was not paid for her services….
"Another domestic worker employed by the couple said she was burned with an iron and threatened with return to her native land, where she would be subject to imprisonment.
“The employee also alleged she was deprived of personal papers and was not paid.
“A third domestic employee alleged she was held at the Kimes' residence against her will, was not allowed to communicate with anyone, was not paid and was physically abused. The worker was freed July 12 from a Las Vegas home the Kimes kept….
"A fourth person, who disappeared in June from Santa Ana, Calif., told a relative on July 31 she was working long hours but was not being paid, was not allowed to talk to people outside the residence or use the telephone, and was not allowed to leave the residence."
Convicted a year later, Sante was given five years in a federal lockup. Her husband paid a fine but avoided prison.
The case quickly faded from public view until 1998, when an 82-year-old Manhattanite by the name of Irene Silverman turned up missing. Sante Kimes was accused with her son Kenneth Jr. of murdering and dismembering the wealthy heiress in a scheme to steal her $10 million townhouse on East 65th Street. The body was never recovered.
Convicted for that crime, Sante Kimes was sentenced to 125 years. But there was even more, as reported by the New York Times:
"It was not long after the senior Mr. Kimes died — of natural causes — in 1994 that people in the orbit of Ms. Kimes and her son started disappearing.
"First was Syed Bilal Ahmed, a Bahraini officer at the First Cayman Bank in the Cayman Islands who had met the mother and son in Nassau, in the Bahamas.
"Next was [David] Kazdin, whose body was discovered in 1998 in a trash bin near the airport in Los Angeles."
According to Wikipedia, Kenneth Kimes, Jr., who copped a plea for a life sentence without parole in the Kazdin case, is currently an inmate at the Richard J. Donovan Correctional Facility on Otay Mesa.
Now comes word Sante Kimes died May 19 at age 79 in her cell at New York's Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women in Westchester County. The former La Jollan's greatest apparent legacy is a 2001 made-for-TV biopic starring Mary Tyler Moore.