Contra Costa Times
Curtis Dean Anderson confession draws mixed reaction
By John Simerman
Posted: 07/06/2009 04:20:35 PM PDT
Updated: 07/07/2009 11:02:35 AM PDT
When his dark star shone brightest — in Solano County Jail, accused of heinous crimes against one Vallejo girl and suspected of abducting another — Curtis Dean Anderson would spew about it in his slippery, cryptic way.
He counted on a future in prison as he awaited trial for snatching 8-year-old Midsi Sanchez in 2000, shackling her to his car and molesting her before her escape after two days captive.
In the meantime, Anderson relished the attention, the time with visitors, the chance to taunt and tease.
Then 39, he vaguely claimed an array of child abductions and killings. He told a reporter and the great-aunt of 7-year-old Xiana Fairchild that he took the girl off a Vallejo street in 1999.
He wanted money for the details, where to find her alive. He tried to send reporters on errands and remote searches for bones. He used code language and appeared to feel clever.
“He actually, at one point, referred to himself as Hannibal Lecter and said the reporters were like Clarice,” said Kristi Belcamino, a former Contra Costa Times reporter who visited Anderson in jail several times. “He acted like he was smarter than anyone else, smarter than the cops. I think he was a miserable, lonely person and all of a sudden he was important for the first time in his life, and he was taking advantage of it.”
As Pinole police closed the book Monday on the 1988 disappearance of 7-year-old Amber Swartz, of Pinole — noting a signed confession by Anderson a month before his death in 2007, and no evidence to refute it — the news brought hope of resolution for her family. But memories of his manipulating ways cast a lingering doubt.
Amber’s mother, Kim Swartz, sounded cautious Monday. She said her sons are skeptical because no body has been found.
“The hard part is the roller coaster, the ups and downs. People would call up and say she was fed to pigs, she was pushed out of a plane. Who knows? Is this another one of those or is it real?” she said. “I don’t want it to be him. I knew what kind of a person he was. It makes your mind run crazy with the possibilities.”
Anderson confessed to several Bay Area abductions, sexual assaults and killings a month before his December 2007 death at a Bakersfield hospital while serving a combined 301-year sentence for Midsi’s abduction and Xiana’s kidnapping and murder. He only signed a confession in Amber’s case.
“Wow. I hope this is real,” said Marc Klaas, whose daughter, Polly, was kidnapped and murdered at age 12 in 1993 in Petaluma. “You want to know what happened to your child. You want to know who committed the crime against your child and you need assurance that that individual is no longer out there. People who are left hanging oftentimes seem to be suspended in time.” Still, Klaas couldn’t help but recall Anderson’s prevaricating ways.
“I remember he played (Stephanie Kahalekulu, Xiana’s great-aunt) for a long time, had her coming back to jail, sending letters to give him money, all these things so she could get the answers she needed,” Klaas said. “He was a real monster, that one. If somebody like that were to tell the truth, you wouldn’t know it.”
It’s unclear what other motive would prompt Anderson to describe a random snatching of Amber on June 3, 1988, and her killing in Arizona.
Eight years ago, it was time in the spotlight, and the hope for cash in jail.
“It’d buy me a TV, a Walkman, soup to eat every day, candy bars, ice cream, sodas, smokes, probably some sex — cuz you gotta have that,” he told Belcamino.
Xiana’s skull was found in Los Gatos as Anderson sat in jail for Midsi’s abduction. A day after it was identified, Anderson offered the Times an account of his life — crime, drugs, growing up in Vallejo with dreams of being like motorcycle daredevil Evel Knievel. He refused to admit or deny killing Xiana.
“That’s a question for them 12 people in the courtroom,” he said. “If I jumped up on the table and screamed ‘I didn’t do it!’ would the headlines be as big?”