I'll Take Care of You

I'll Take Care of You

4.2 7
by Caitlin Rother

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Rother is the next Ann Rule.--Gregg Olsen

Praise for Caitlin Rother

"A superb writer." --Los Angeles Times

"A star in the field of true crime." --The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Will keep you on the edge of your seat." --Aphrodite Jones

Nanette Johnston Packard, a sexy divorcee, liked to meet men at the gym andSee more details below


Rother is the next Ann Rule.--Gregg Olsen

Praise for Caitlin Rother

"A superb writer." --Los Angeles Times

"A star in the field of true crime." --The San Diego Union-Tribune

"Will keep you on the edge of your seat." --Aphrodite Jones

Nanette Johnston Packard, a sexy divorcee, liked to meet men at the gym and through personal ads. Soon after she began dating millionaire Bill McLaughlin, he moved her and her kids into his bay-front home in Newport Beach. But one man was never enough for Nanette. . .

Eric Naposki, her NFL linebacker lover, fulfilled Nanette's wilder cravings. Together they schemed to make her fiance's fortune their own. When McLaughlin was gunned down, authorities had suspicions--but no proof. Pulitzer-nominated writer Caitlin Rother explores this chilling story of a woman who seemed to have it all--until justice finally had its day.

Includes dramatic photos

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
Rother (Dead Reckoning; Poisoned Love; Where Hope Begins) has written another "ripped from the headlines" page-turner. This is the story of narcissistic divorcée Nanette Johnston Packard, who was recently convicted along with her boyfriend, NFL linebacker Eric Naposki, of the 1994 murder of her other boyfriend (and fiancé) millionaire Bill McLaughlin. Packard was constantly on the lookout for ways to make money—usually by having someone like McLaughlin "take care of her." In fact, she and McLaughlin became an item after he answered her personal ad seeking "wealthy men only." The murder investigation went cold as the case was mostly circumstantial. Rother covers the lives (and loves) of Packard and Naposki, their trials, and jailhouse interviews with Naposki. The author never strays into salacious melodrama but does include an occasional sarcastic zinger that will amuse readers, e.g., wondering why Packard would bother to earn her GED after claiming she was high school valedictorian. Although Rother is (understandably) empathetic to the McLaughlin family, her portrayal of the McLaughlins, Packard and her family, and Naposki and his family is journalistic and thorough. VERDICT This title is sure to be popular. Purchase for public libraries with large true crime collections.—Karen Sandlin Silverman, Scarborough H.S. Lib., ME

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By Caitlin Rother


Copyright © 2014 Caitlin Rother
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-7860-3255-6


Bill McLaughlin, who had enlisted in the U.S. Marines at seventeen, right out of high school, was a health-conscious fitness fanatic who insisted on being the master of his domain.

He loved his three children unconditionally and was very affectionate with them, completely indifferent to what people might think when he exhibited his love for his son. He and Kevin made a habit of kissing, hugging, and exchanging "I love you, son," and "I love you, Dad" endearments in public. They also acted wacky together, karate-chopping at each other like Bruce Lee as they stood in line at the movies, embarrassing the rest of the family.

Bill believed in a tough-love approach to drugs, but when he ordered Kevin to go to AA meetings, he wasn't just some hard-ass overreacting to his son's recreational use of marijuana, Pacifico beer, and the occasional vodka binge. Kevin's pot-smoking habit had hurt and upset Bill even before a drunk driver going sixty-five miles per hour had struck the twenty-one-year-old as he was skateboarding home from a bar.

After Kevin was seriously injured and almost died in October 1991, Bill was understandably even more concerned. His son had spent eighteen months progressing through several rehab facilities, finally coming home to live in the quiet, gated community of Balboa Coves.

Now twenty-four, Kevin was finally able to walk on his own again, so the last thing Bill wanted was for Kevin to derail his recovery by smoking and drinking out of frustration with his disabled body and lagging communication skills. Bill was also worried that Kevin's addictive behaviors could result in a fall, triggering new injuries.

As a result, Bill forced his son to sign a contract to stop using drugs and alcohol. He also kept the refrigerator stocked with drug-testing kits. If Kevin broke the contract, Bill said, he would put him in a board-and-care home.

Kevin didn't like the restrictions, which caused tensions between them, but the pact seemed to be working. Kevin's two-pronged recovery was challenging for him and his family, who were still very close, even though time and circumstances had sent them in different directions around the globe. Bill's oldest child—his sunny and warm daughter Kim—was living in Tokyo, where she taught second grade at an international school. Jenny, the more reserved daughter, a high-school science and physics teacher, lived in nearby Laguna Niguel. And his ex-wife, Sue, had moved to their house in Hanalei, Hawaii, not long after she filed for divorce in 1990, leaving twenty-four years of marriage behind her.

Now that Bill was "retired" and had plenty of money to pay for his son's therapy, he insisted on taking care of Kevin full-time. But their home in Balboa Coves was anything but a bachelor pad.

By December 1994, Bill's fiancée, a fellow divorcee named Nanette, had been living in their two-story home for three and a half years. Most friends and family believed the couple had met "through friends," but Bill and Nanette knew the truth.

On a shelf in the master bedroom's closet, Bill kept a small chest containing several dozen greeting cards. All but one of the envelopes had no address, indicating that they'd been hand-delivered. The one at the bottom of the stack, which was kept in Bill's usual meticulous chronological order, was a handwritten card that Nanette had mailed to him at the very beginning to introduce herself, apparently after he'd answered her personal ad. She was blondish, thin, had advanced degrees, wrote business plans for a living, and worked out to stay fit, just like he did.

They were a good match. Or so he thought.

Even though his family couldn't or, perhaps, didn't want to believe that Bill would have responded to such an ad, they later learned that Nanette had placed one titled, "For Wealthy Men Only" in the February 1991 issue of Singles Connection, right around the time that she and Bill had started dating: SWF, 25, 5'5" 100#, classy, well-educated, adventurous, fun and knows how to take care of her man. Looking for an older man, 30+, who knows how to treat a woman. You take care of me and I'll take care of you.

If that was, in fact, the deal they'd struck, Bill certainly had held up his end of the bargain. He and Nanette hadn't been dating long before she moved in that August. They made a second home in Kim and Jenny's old rooms for Nanette's kids—four-year-old Lishele and six-year-old Kristofer—who often stayed over. Nanette agreed to quit her sales position, and with their new arrangement came the promise that her only job would be to take care of Bill, pay the household bills, and help him run his affairs.

Nanette, with her ambitions and entrepreneurial spirit, reminded Bill of himself. As he took the young woman under his wing, she tried to bring them even closer, asking him to reverse his vasectomy so they could have a child together and get married. Recently divorced, however, Bill wasn't eager to tie the knot again anytime soon. Instead, he gave her a ring with a sizable diamond, hoping to satisfy her for the time being, and breast implants, to boot. He told a friend that this was a "companion's" ring, which might explain why he and Nanette never had an engagement party, set a wedding date, or made any plans for a ceremony.

"He told me she was pressuring him to get married and have a child and he got her the ring to keep her [happy]," Jenny recalled.

Nanette, on the other hand, proudly told Bill's friends and family about the engagement and showed off her big rock. But what Bill didn't know was that she never wore it to the exclusive Sporting Club gym in Irvine, where she kept her slender figure in shape, met and secretly dated a series of athletic men, who were quite a bit younger than her wealthy fiancé.

Although she later contended that she and Bill had an "unspoken agreement," which allowed her to see other men as long as she didn't embarrass him, his family and friends never heard anything about it, nor did they believe it had ever existed. They all thought Bill and Nanette were happily seeing each other exclusively.

Bill's daughters never volunteered their feelings of distrust and dislike for his girlfriend, but they were honest when he questioned them directly.

"Do you think she's with me for my money?" he asked.

"Yes," they replied.

Bill had been exploring various business ventures since he'd sold the Plasmacell-C, a groundbreaking medical filtration device that separated plasma from blood, in a deal that paid him a small fortune in royalties every year. Counting his property assets, including two homes in Newport Beach, two in Las Vegas, and a condo development project with an airstrip in the desert, he was worth about $55 million. In addition to investing in real estate, he was also researching new uses for his blood filter and searching for a cancer cure, no less.

"He just loved the challenge and learning new things," Kim recalled.

Over time, Bill shared more and more with Nanette. He discussed his projects with her, and he bought her a new red Infiniti convertible. But after she rolled that car and was arrested for a DIU in 1992, she insisted on driving Bill's green Cadillac.

Bill set up a joint checking account, in which he generally kept a balance of $10,000 to $20,000, and authorized her to sign checks on it to pay the bills. He also provided for her in his living will, made her a trustee of his estate if he should die, and listed her as the beneficiary of a $1 million life insurance policy. The will gave her a year rent-free in the beachfront house he owned on Seashore Drive, as well as $150,000 in cash and the Infiniti.

Bill seemed content in his life with Nanette, whom he took on ski trips and exotic vacations—always bringing her children with them. He was just as affectionate with them as if they were his own, and his fondness for them was mutual. Nanette was constantly taking snapshots of them together as he let them steer his speedboat, cuddled with them on the couch as they watched TV, and hugged them in front of his plane, where he let them take the controls during flights to Las Vegas, to ski in Utah, or to other vacation spots.

Usually, though, Bill went alone to Vegas to conduct business, which lately had involved a protracted legal battle against a former business partner, and also buying firearms at gun shows.

Since Congress had passed the "Brady Bill" in 1993, making it more difficult to buy guns, Bill had stockpiled about one hundred of them, mostly as an investment, but also for protection. He kept a Jennings .380 under the seat of his white Mercedes, the car he drove between Balboa Coves and the airport, and a nine-millimeter Taurus in a lockbox next to his bed.

On the days Bill was out of town, Nanette usually went shopping and did as she pleased back in Newport, staying the night with the men she met at the gym when she wasn't with her kids. She also helped take care of Bill's son, Kevin, who had come a long way since he came out of the coma.

Kevin McLaughlin was extremely proud that his AA buddies had appointed him secretary of their weekly meeting, because it came with the important duty of taking notes. Because he still suffered from tremors, it took him half an hour to write a one-page letter. He'd also had to learn how to talk all over again, and speaking was a challenge he had yet to master again. His slurred speech could make him sound drunk, especially when he was tired, upset, or under stress. And although his family and his girlfriend could understand him most of the time, it was harder for strangers, especially under these circumstances.

Imagine his frustration that December night as his father lay bleeding on the kitchen floor and Kevin struggled to convey the most important message he'd ever tried to deliver.

"My father's been shot," he said to the 911 dispatcher at the Newport Beach Police Department.

"What do you need the police for, sir?" she asked, unable to make out his garbled moans. "I can't understand what you're saying."

"My dad was shot."

"Say it to me again, sir."

As he tried to convey the nature of his emergency, he felt helpless as he saw his father's life slipping away, right in front of him. However, Kevin's words were jumbled together, and because he was so upset, he was also yelling, which made it even more difficult for the dispatcher to make out his urgent, guttural tones.

"Are you hurt?" she asked. "Is there anybody out there that can talk to me? ... Is it your father or your dog? ... What's the matter with your mother?"

Although the dispatcher was able to pick out the word "gun" and realized that she needed to send paramedics, she still couldn't discern what else Kevin was trying to say.

"Do you think he shot himself?" she asked.

A second dispatcher came on the line to see if she could calm the distraught young man so they could understand him better.

"Is—is your dad breathing?"

"No," Kevin said.

But try as she might, she, too, misunderstood many of his responses. "Did he just fall over? ... Do you know what happened to him? ... Heart attack? ... Did you say 'a gun'?"


"Where is the gun?"

"I don't know."

"But you think he shot himself?"

These details would all be sorted out later, but there was still the matter of the locked main gate leading into the community, which the police and paramedics couldn't open without some assistance.

"Do you know how to open the gate?" the dispatcher asked.

Although it took nearly five minutes for the dispatchers to decipher Kevin's cry for help, they were able to alert some bike patrol officers in the area, who were the first to gain entrance through the main gate and pedal over to the McLaughlin house. But by the time paramedics arrived and rolled Bill onto his back, they realized there was no point in trying to revive him. He was gone.

It was maddening for Kevin not to be able to communicate better with the dispatchers. He told his sisters that he was angry he hadn't been able to do more to help his father. However, the minutes that ticked by while he was on the phone didn't make much difference to his father's chances of survival.

The autopsy showed that any one of the six 9mm Federal Hydra-Shok bullets fired into Bill's chest could have been the fatal shot, killing him almost immediately. The hollow-point bullets, designed to tear through tissue as the tips mushroomed upon impact, had torn right through Bill's heart and upper torso. Based on the "stippling" marks on his skin—a circular pattern of dots created by firing a gun at close range—the coroner said that at least two of the bullets, presumably the last two, were fired from about two feet away. All the shots were fired from front to back, downward and to the left. Because Bill stood at nearly five feet ten inches, this indicated that the killer was probably taller than he was.

The 911 tape was tragic to hear in 1994, and even though seventeen years had passed by the time Kevin's mostly incomprehensible statements reverberated throughout a Santa Ana courtroom, they still ripped open the emotional scars in Bill's family and close friends.

After climbing over the wall into the McLaughlins' front yard, the bike patrol officers saw that the front door was wide open, and a silver key was stuck in the lock. A gold key also lay on the doormat, apparently dropped by the shooter in his haste to flee. Both keys looked new—they were shiny and had the small temporary rings that some hardware stores attach to freshly ground copies.

The police soon learned that the gold key opened a pedestrian-access gate across the cul-de-sac, which led to an asphalt path for biking, jogging, and walking. The gate was kept locked, but the spring wasn't so tight that it couldn't be accidentally left ajar or finessed to keep it propped open. On either side of the gate was a chain-link fence, topped with barbed wire, that surrounded the community. Today, that fence has been replaced by a higher and more substantial plaster wall, which is covered with a thick, prickly layer of bougainvillea.

In 1994, the jogging path wound around to a flight of stairs up to a sidewalk that took pedestrians across the four-lane Newport Boulevard Bridge and over the Newport Channel to Lido Marina Village. At the time, the Lido area had a bustling Mediterranean plaza, with a cluster of popular restaurants and nightclubs, including the Thunderbird.

The homeowners' association for Balboa Coves, which consisted of sixty-eight bayfront homes, limited the distribution of keys to residents. And even then only a few were given to each family. For security reasons, copies of the keys were supposed to be stamped "do not duplicate," and each recipient was to be recorded on a master list.

Officer Glen Garrity found an agitated Kevin McLaughlin in the kitchen. Garrity led the young man, a Brad Pitt look-alike who was wearing nothing but blue jeans, into the living room, took a preliminary statement and bagged Kevin's hands to preserve any traces of gunshot residue. While the other officers cordoned off the crime scene, Kevin got out of his chair several times in a panic, wanting to check the doors for a break-in, but Garrity kept him in that room until the detectives arrived to formally interview him.

Kevin said he heard three shots fired, although neighbors reported hearing five or six. It wasn't just his speech that was impaired by the brain injury, but his short-term memory as well.

"Is there anyone who might want to harm your father?" the police asked him.

Kevin suggested Jacob Horowitz (pseudonym), referring to the combative former business partner who had cost his father millions in delayed royalty payments and mounting legal fees as the lawsuit made its way through the courts.

Asked if there were guns in the house, Kevin directed them to the locked metal box his father kept in the master bedroom, as well as the fourteen guns and several boxes of bullets that Bill stored in the guest bedroom's closet upstairs. Because small children lived in the house, Bill stored the rest of his gun collection in Las Vegas. Kevin said that he'd fired some guns in Vegas himself about three weeks earlier, but none that day.

With no key to open the lockbox, the detectives had to pick it. Inside, they found a fully loaded nine-millimeter Taurus PT92 AFS, but it didn't smell or look as if it had been fired recently.


Excerpted from I'LL TAKE CARE OF YOU by Caitlin Rother. Copyright © 2014 Caitlin Rother. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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