Las Vegas Sun

October 20, 2018

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Property with a past: Lot with ties to Las Vegas criminals goes on the market

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SUN FILE PHOTO

The late Sante Kimes, shown testifying in 2004 during her murder trial in Los Angeles, lived at 2121 Geronimo Way in Las Vegas for several years. Now, years after the home was razed after being damaged in an arson, the lot where the home once stood is for sale. Kimes was charged with killing Los Angeles businessman David Kazdin in 1998. Her son, Kenneth Kimes, pleaded guilty to the murder and testified against her in a deal with prosecutors to avoid the death penalty.

2121 Geronimo Way

2121 Geronimo Way in Las Vegas, Nev. on June 28, 2016. Launch slideshow »

Looking to buy a slice of sordid Las Vegas crime history?

The vacant lot for sale at 2121 Geronimo Way, just over the fence from Las Vegas National Golf Club, is covered in weeds, sits near stylish, 1960s-era houses and is listed for $253,600, a hefty markup over what the current owners spent.

It’s linked to notorious mother-and-son grifters who, before they were sentenced to at least 120 years in prison each, left a trail of murder, arson, theft, insurance scams, bounced checks and even slavery in their wake. The property has changed hands several times since then, and the current owners live in Canada.

Convicted Murderer Sante Kimes

Convicted murderer Sante Kimes, 71, clutches the hand of her attorney Ray Newman as she is found guilty of the first-degree murder of David Kazdin, Wednesday, July 7, 2004, in a Los Angeles County Superior Courtroom. Kimes, who along with her son Kenneth Kimes have already been convicted of killing an elderly New York socialite, was found guilty of orchestrating the murder of David Kazdin. Launch slideshow »

The crime spree by Sante Kimes, who died in her prison cell in 2014 at age 79, and her son Kenneth Kimes Jr. was heavily documented — news articles, books, a “60 Minutes” segment, even a TV movie starring Mary Tyler Moore. (The movie, “Like Mother, Like Son: The Strange Story of Sante and Kenny Kimes,” was a “low-rent psychological drama,” according to Variety.)

Sante Kimes was born in Oklahoma but grew up in Las Vegas, and more than a few of her crimes were tied to the house in Paradise Palms, just east of Boulevard mall. According to reports in The New York Times:

In the early 1980s, she and her husband, Kenneth Kimes, bought a 4,000-square-foot house at 2121 Geronimo Way. Roughly 15 years later, after Kenneth died, Sante obtained a mortgage on the property and listed Robert McCarren, whom she had found in a local homeless shelter, on the title as the home’s owner.

She obtained fire insurance in McCarren’s name, and about two weeks later, the house was torched in an arson. McCarren later told investigators that Kimes “held him captive, beat him and forced him to memorize prepared lies for the inevitable questions,” the Times reported.

Kimes used the name of David Kazdin, a Los Angeles businessman whom she knew, to secure the mortgage. After learning of the loan — and possibly confronting Kimes and her son, investigators suspected — Kazdin was found dead in a garbage bin at Los Angeles International Airport.

Kenneth Jr. later admitted that he killed him.

According to reports, the family’s other crimes included:

• In the mid-1980s, when Kenneth Jr. was around 10 years old, Sante and her husband were charged with enslaving several Mexican women whom they had smuggled into the United States. Her husband received a three-year suspended sentence and was ordered to pay a $70,000 fine, but Sante got five years in prison.

• In 1998, around the time Kazdin was killed, Sante bought a Lincoln Town Car from an auto dealer in Utah with a check for $14,900 that bounced. Not long after, Sante bought an $80,000 motor home in Florida with another bounced check.

• Also in 1998, Sante and her son were charged with murdering 82-year-old Irene Silverman, of New York, in a plot to take her Upper East Side townhouse. Her body wasn’t found, but Kenneth Jr. told a jury that, after his mom hit Silverman in the head with a stun-gun, he strangled the widowed socialite, wrapped her body in garbage bags and dumped her in a trash bin in Hoboken, N.J.

Ultimately, Sante Kimes was sentenced to 120 years in prison, and her son got about 125 years, reports said.

The 0.3-acre property at 2121 Geronimo Way has been empty for some time. A demolition permit for a "burned residence" was issued in late 2000, Clark County records show, and the site’s current listing agent, Malcolm Boot, said he didn’t know the last time a house stood there.

Despite its unusual past, the property’s more recent history is similar to countless others in the Las Vegas Valley: soaring values followed by foreclosure, plunging prices and then a climb from the depths.

According to county records, the property sold for $146,000 in 2000 and then $300,000 in 2005, but was seized through foreclosure in 2008. It sold for $45,000 in 2009, $72,000 a few months later and then $90,000 in 2014 to a married couple in British Columbia, who are trying to sell for nearly three times what they paid.

Today, the average passer-by, when just looking at the site, would have no idea it was tied to a notorious criminal family.

Perhaps fittingly, though, a "warning" sign is fastened to a light pole there, saying that a neighborhood-watch program is "in force."

"We immediately report all SUSPICIOUS PERSONS and activities to our Police Dept.," the sign says.

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