Fatal Beauty

Fatal Beauty

by Burl Barer

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780786027927
Publisher: Kensington
Publication date: 01/01/2011
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 361,029
File size: 5 MB

About the Author

Burl Barer is an Edgar Award–winning author and two-time Anthony Award nominee with extensive media, advertising, marketing, and public relations experience. He has garned accolades for his creative contributions to radio, television, and print media, and his career has been highlighted in The Hollywood Reporter, London Sunday Telegraph, New York Times, USA Today, Variety, Broadcasting, and Electronic Media, as well as on ABC's Good Morning America.

Barer, regarded as one of America's finest investigative journalists, is a frequent commentator on numerous television programs seen worldwide, including Deadly Sins, Deadly Women, Motives and Murders, Snapped, Scorned, Behind Mansion Walls, Epic Mysteries, and Hart Fisher's American Horrors channel via Filmon.TV.

Burl Barer hosts the award-winning Internet radio show, True Crime Uncensored with cohost, show business legend Howard Lapides, on Outlawradiousa.com every Saturday at 2 p.m. Pacific time.

In addition to nonfiction/true crime bestsellers, Barer is a regular contributor to Serial Killer Quarterly, the prestigious magazine edited by Lee Mellor. Barer also writes new adventures of Leslie Charteris' The Saint, and the Jeff Reynolds series of private eye novels.

Read an Excerpt




Copyright © 2011 Burl Barer
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-0-7860-1910-6

Chapter One

You never forget your first car, first kiss or first corpse. That new car smell only lasts so long, and the olfactory sensation instigated by your best girl's perfume, or lover's cologne, lingers as treasured nostalgia. The stench of death clings to you like a parasite, fouling your mind and haunting your memories. No homicide detective forgets that first dead body.

When you're a homicide detective in Texas, snuffed lives litter your career's landscape like so many scattered leaves. Each victim's dignity must be preserved, and each crime scene must be kept pure. When you discover a corpse, investigate, don't contaminate.

The bullet-riddled body of Texas millionaire/oil entrepreneur James "Jimmy" Joste was discovered July 25, 2004, in the upscale Austin Mission Oaks residence technically owned by his estranged girlfriend, Rhonda Lee Glover. This event triggered a multistate investigation requiring involvement by the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives (ATF), the United States Secret Service, the Kansas State Police and the homicide division of the Austin Police Department (APD).

Prior to arresting the person responsible for Joste's death, Austin homicide detectives Keith Walker and Richard Faithful uncovered allegations of conspiracy, financial fraud, manipulation of oil markets, kidnapping, child murder, drug dealing, satanic rituals and perverse sexual behavior by respected members of Texas's social elite. The investigation began with a phone call from Janice Van Every on Sunday, July 25, 2004.

"I came up to Austin to visit my son, Paul Owen," explained Van Every. "At approximately nine-thirty P.M., Saturday night, July twenty-fourth, we went to the residence of my niece [Rhonda Glover] at Mission Oaks. I observed that the garage door was open, and a car parked inside. No lights were on, and we decided not to go in. We came back the next morning. The garage was still open, and a navy blue Volkswagen was still parked inside. I could see that the utility door was open. I tried knocking on the door and ringing the doorbell several times, with no luck. I also tried calling on the phone, but received no answer. I tried the front door, and it was unlocked. I opened it a crack, and then closed it. I yelled for whoever was inside to answer, but no one came. We became concerned and called police."

The first respondents on the scene were Officers Martinez and Paez. Knocking on the front door, they repeatedly made loud announcements of their presence, but no one responded. "We entered the house," said Officer Richard Paez, "and immediately noticed the foul smell of something rotting. There were also large insects throughout the house—a possible indication that there was a dead body inside the home." As the two Austin police officers moved up the stairs, the offensive odor increased in intensity.

"Almost as we reached the top of the stairwell," said Paez, "I saw what appeared to be a deceased person lying on the hallway floor. We decided not to go farther, walked out the way we came in, and then called our supervisor, and advised dispatch to summon all necessary units to the crime scene."

Homicide detectives Keith Walker, Eric De Los Santos and Richard Faithful were soon on their way to the Mission Oaks residence, along with Austin's crime scene analysis team. "I'd been with the Austin Police Department about eleven years when that call came in," recalled Keith Walker, "and I'd been a detective for about five and a half years. Homicide detectives investigate any unnatural death or any death that is not known to be natural. That includes accidental, overdoses, homicides, anything of that nature that doesn't involve traffic."

It was Walker's turn to take the role of lead detective under Austin's rotation system. "Once you are assigned to a case," explained Walker, "you then start again at the bottom and work your way up. Detective De Los Santos was there to assist me. Detective Faithful was number two, my backup detective, so to speak, and we also use other members to take statements and assist in the investigation, as needed."

When Walker arrived, the crime scene specialists had not yet entered the house: "That's because we didn't know at that time who owned the house, and we didn't know for sure the identity of the victim. Once it was determined that the death was suspicious, the house was left alone, pending entry into the house in a legal manner. In this case a search warrant was required. We needed to know who owned the house, whose name was on the utility bills and who was paying the property taxes. Our Detective Fortune got right on that, Eric De Los Santos was already canvassing the neighborhood, and Ms. Van Every told Detective Faithful that the victim in the house was most likely Mr. James Joste, father of her niece's nine-year-old son."

"Okay, here's the story," Faithful told his fellow detectives. "She says that her niece, Rhonda Glover, and Joste had split up, and that Glover had their son. There was supposed to be some sort of custody problem over their son, and neither of them was supposed to have custody of the boy. The aunt came looking for Glover because no one had heard or seen her for several months. She says that she was concerned for the boy and Glover, and she hoped that maybe Glover and the boy came back to Joste, or at least talked to him, and that he might know where they were. That's why she came to the house."

The only thing detectives knew for sure was that there was a dead body, not yet identified, in the upstairs hall. The fact that the individuals who called the police were looking for Rhonda Glover and a nine-year-old child weighed heavily on Walker's mind.

"We didn't know what had happened in that house," affirmed Walker. "We didn't know if there were other crimes involved as well. We had two major concerns. One was that Ms. Glover might be a suspect, and that her son could be in danger from her. The other concern was just as disturbing. It was equally possible that Glover and her son had been abducted, and both of them were in danger for their lives. We issued a broadcast nationwide to be on the lookout for them based on what little information we had at the time."

By the time everyone dispatched to the scene arrived, and Faithful had elicited basic information from Janice Van Every, Detective De Los Santos had spoken to most of the neighbors, including Andy and Judy Granger.

"Andy Granger began to tell me how he only saw an older white male at the unit," recalled De Los Santos, "but Judy Granger interrupted. She said that they would give us information, but did not want to be called into court. I tried to explain to her that if the information they provided was considered significant by the district attorney, then there was a possibility they could be called in. Judy stated that if that were the case, they have nothing to say. I left it at that and continued canvassing."

At 11:43 A.M., De Los Santos spoke with April Lord, Shannon Hopkins and Allison Atchley. "The three women could only recall that an older white male lived in the unit. They recalled that he seemed nice, waving, and he had a black motorcycle."

"The last time I saw the guy who lives there," Paul Mathews told De Los Santos, "was on Tuesday. I saw him come in through the gate, and backing the VW into the garage. I didn't pay a lot of attention because I was simply getting my mail."

Neighbor Nellie Byrne walked the neighborhood frequently, but did not notice anything out of the ordinary. She did recall seeing Joste's garage door open on Thursday. Kathleen Dunegan also recalled seeing the garage door open on either Monday or Tuesday. "I had never seen him leave it open before," she said. "In fact, I walked over and knocked on the door to check on him. I didn't get any answer, so I left."

Jack Young told De Los Santos that he knew an older man lived in that unit, but didn't know him personally. "I think he may have had a girlfriend," said Young, "but that was some months ago."

"I know my neighbors slightly," said Patricia Reichle. "I haven't seen Rhonda Glover in about a year, or her son. Mr. Joste told me that Rhonda was living in their house in Houston. He's had different people house-sitting from time to time," Reichle explained, "but I think the last time anyone house-sat was several months ago. As for the garage door, I think I noticed it open since about Wednesday, the twenty-first."

Sara Buss also spoke freely. "I haven't seen anyone around the house other than the man who lives there," she said. "The overhead garage door has been open for several days. I don't recall if he left the garage door open all the time, but I definitely remembered that it has been open several days, and that there was that car backed into the garage. I haven't seen anyone at the house for a few days."

Detective Faithful was standing in front of the residence when Wanda Stevens, a member of the home owners' board for the community, pulled up to him. She kindly offered assistance. "Stevens informed me that the access codes to get into the gate are personalized, but that they have no way of tracking them," said Faithful. "Stevens also informed me that there are no cameras in the community to monitor entry and exit."

* * *

Forty-five minutes after his final interview with Jimmy Joste's neighbors, De Los Santos left the scene and drove to the station to draft a search warrant. Detective Fortune completed the required research, passing it on to De Los Santos.

"According to Travis County Appraisal District information," Fortune told him, "the home on Mission Oaks is owned by Rhonda Glover. City of Austin utility records also show an active account in Glover's name for that same residence. The Texas Department of Public Safety has records confirming that Rhonda Glover is a white female born July 26, 1966, and she has a Texas driver's license."

In addition to the information acquired by Fortune, De Los Santos also checked Austin Police Department records for any previous police response to the address on Mission Oaks Boulevard.

"Austin PD was very familiar with Rhonda Glover," confirmed De Los Santos. "I found plenty of activity for both Rhonda Glover and James Joste."

"Activity" is a polite way of saying that there were numerous calls to 911, all placed by Rhonda Glover, and all contained the notation of EDP, the abbreviation for emotionally disturbed person.

A review of the records pulled by De Los Santos provides a chilling glimpse into the terrified mind of Rhonda Glover, a woman so beset with fear and panic that she called 911 to report a burglary in progress almost every other day. When Officers Funderburgh and Fiske arrived at the Mission Oaks home on March 3, 2003, they found Rhonda Glover still on the phone, updating 911 on the demons in her walls and the disembodied life-forms threatening her.

"This was the third time in the space of a week or two that Ms. Glover called 911 to report a burglary in progress," confirmed Officer Fiske. "Rhonda was sure that there was someone in her house. Even while I talked with Rhonda, she kept looking around the house for the intruder."

There never was an intruder. "This wasn't the first time that week that police had been called to her house," revealed Fiske, and there were no intruders the other nights either. Unlike the other responding officers, Fiske wasn't responding to the burglary. "I am a mental-health officer, so one of the officers on the scene called me. I am really just a regular police officer who has had training in mental illness and the procedures that police use when dealing with the mentally ill."

The officers on the scene had searched Glover's residence up and down and didn't find any intruders inside. "I talked to her for some time, but she didn't believe that there was not a person or persons in the house, and she kept repeatedly asking me, 'Did you hear that?' and stuff like that. It was difficult to talk to her because she was so paranoid. I remember one time while I was talking to her, she got up and went into the kitchen and was searching the kitchen and just left me sitting in the other room. She was acting in a very bizarre fashion.

"She never calmed down the entire time I was with her," said Fiske. "She was fearful, distraught and paranoid.

"My main job," said Fiske, "is to assist with mentally ill people that become involved with law enforcement. One of my responsibilities is if I get called to a scene, or am at a scene, and there is a mentally ill person actively dangerous to either themselves or others, I have the authority to have them committed to the hospital to be evaluated." Her job description was seemingly custom crafted for her encounter with Rhonda Glover.

The threshold by which dangerousness is measured is quite high, and they have to be so out of touch with reality that it is feared that if this person is left alone, they may hurt themselves or others. "The institutions I take them to," explained Fiske, "public or private, have some very high standards of what they will and will not accept for immediately dangerous. That is a determination that they make independent of my own concern. I have had several rejected by the hospitals.

"Rhonda Glover told me that she was seeing Dr. Jones at MMHR," said Fiske. "Well, I determined that she wasn't an immediate danger to herself or others, but since she was under so much stress and fearful, and she told me that she was bipolar, I asked her if she would like to go to Psychiatric Emergency Services to talk to somebody. She agreed, and she followed me to Psychiatric Emergency Services.

"What I do," explained Fiske, "is when it is on a volunteer basis like that, when she wants to speak with somebody, she wants the help, I will go in, and I will help them fill out the forms. It just gives [the staff] a small synopsis of why we are even there, and what that does a lot of times is it will expedite them talking to her as opposed to having her wait in a line that is generally very long." Once there, Fiske did not stay with Rhonda Glover. "I don't stay there," she said, "because it could be hours before they see her."

* * *

As De Los Santos flipped the pages of the APD reports, a definite pattern became evident—Rhonda Glover calls 911 in a state of panic. Officers arrive, find nothing, and leave. Rhonda was not always alone, discovered De Los Santos. Most often, the one calming influence was Mr. James Joste.

At 6:25 P.M., November 15, 2003, Rhonda Glover called 911, out of breath, asking for police. "I arrived a short time later," recalled Officer Kelly Moore, "and noticed that there were a few items lying in the driveway, including a disposable camera, travel map and various papers. I rang the doorbell and a male answered the door. His name, James Joste."

Moore interviewed Jimmy Joste, and it didn't take long to get to the bottom line. Basically, Joste advised him that Rhonda Glover had been diagnosed with two different forms of mental illness, but he couldn't tell which condition was responsible for her current symptoms. "His wife, Rhonda, had been prescribed medication to control her condition," said Moore, "but she hadn't taken them in about a month."

Joste informed Moore that Rhonda had been able to self-medicate by consuming no fluids other than Austin tap water. Moore had good reason to doubt the power of the tap water, due to the fact that Rhonda, according to Joste, was becoming increasingly irritable and irrational. "She had thrown a fit, called various people saying Joste was holding her hostage, wouldn't let her leave the house, et cetera. Joste, however, had let her take their son in their Suburban and leave."

Rhonda called Joste twice while Officer Moore was at the Mission Oaks home. "Joste was very calm with her, and seemed to fully be aware of the subtleties of her condition, and how to handle her. The second time she called, she told him that she wanted to stay in a hotel in Austin, and he agreed quite easily to this. Joste told Rhonda to call him back, and he would book her a room at a downtown hotel. He later told me," said Officer Moore, "that he believed that she would simply come home, and that she sounded like she has returned to normal during the second conversation."


Excerpted from FATAL BEAUTY by BURL BARER Copyright © 2011 by Burl Barer. Excerpted by permission of PINNACLE BOOKS. 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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Fatal Beauty 3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 30 reviews.
CrimePuppy More than 1 year ago
If author Burl Barer has a problem, it's that his books are not exploitive pieces of quickly cranked out trash. In depth research and dedication to putting things in historical/cultural and sociological perspective are the characteristics of each and every one of his books, and Fatal Beauty is no exception. This time around, Barer writes a book that reads as if a television documentary - a different approach, and one that puts him in the background much as a TV producer or editor is in the background when you watch 20/20 or Dateline or 48 hrs. The main characters, friends, experts and enemies are all given their chance to give their views on this tragic story of madness, money and murder. If all you want is blood and gore, go elsewhere, but if you want a well-written and insightful true crime book, Burl Barer never disappoints. Get Fatal Beauty
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Burl Barer's Fatal Beauty is not your standard blood and guts true crime book, although it certainly has its share of murder and madness. Barer is famous for his in depth research and his remarkable ability to give each story a sense of historical and cultural perspective. If Fatal Beauty were put in a time capsule, future readers would learn more about America and our attitudes toward crime punishment and prevention than in a dozen other mass market true crime books -- that is both the blessing and curse of Barer's books -- his work is consistently on the edge of being "too smart for the room." Not content with simply recounting who killed whom, Fatal Beauty delves into issues that are both challenging and disturbing. For those who don't want to think, or regard any information other than the number of bullet holes or sex acts as filler, Fatal Beauty may be a bit much. For those who are ready to really get into all aspects of the case -- from investigation of the crime itself to the dynamics of a relationship gone wrong, you can't do better than this latest from Burl Barer. Fatal Beauty is a five star true crime book from one of the genre's greatest talents.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Well written and very in depth book....Bn
SharonaSS More than 1 year ago
Burl Barer does a wonderful job writing this true crime book about of the shooting of a wealthy Texan by the mother of his son. Interviews with friends and family tell a variety of stories about this attractive woman who had the victim hooked on her. She maintained a lifestyle of rivalry and materialism, and drew her mission in life by distorting Bible texts. The beauty of Fatal Beauty comes when the skilled efforts at data collection by law enforcement and other experts converge at the trial and the truth becomes known through objective evidence.
suzi60 More than 1 year ago
Burl Barer can do NO wrong in his quest for the True Crime scenario! Riveting~~~~Outstanding~~~~A MUST read! He has outdone himself with this one!!! Like his other true crime books...Broken Doll, Mom said kill, etc~~~~He focuses on the heart wrenching reality of a TRUE murder...NOT the fictional kind we all are used to reading. Burl Barer is a ONE of a kind writer that melds fact with tact. A superb auther!!!! An Edgar award winner for his incredible writing skills!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
great read, well written. very thought provocing on how we handle mentally ill people in our court system. we've started the process but are far from finished.
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Author mixes in essays re mental health defenses, prison system etc without a logical in depth presentation of the story of this crime
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There was hardly anything about the real subject - the murder story. There was way too much detail about what the State of Texas laws are regarding insanity, etc. (pages and pages) I could barely get through half of this book. There was much too much repetition about Rhonda Glover's goofy statements.
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NaryBethT More than 1 year ago
I am a fan of true crime an have read many books of this kind but I must say this is the most boring book of its kind I have ever read. It consists of a list of repetative facts that are put together with no rhyme or reason. I am about 2/3 of the way through the book and have to call it quits because it keeps putting me to sleep. I am sorry I waisted money on this but it has saved me on Tylenol PM.
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