from: "Condry, Mark"
date: Wednesday, September 15, 2004 9:06 PM
subject: lots of stuff


Great news. I have a solid lead. The whole day felt like I was pulling a string from the sand, but it’s pointed me in the right direction. (These emails are becoming more of a journal for me, to help me log my progress. I hope you don’t mind.)

It took me an hour of driving back and forth around the Gessner and Braeswood area before I zeroed in on the right side street. The landmarks had changed. I was 90% sure I’d found the right apartment complex, but I was still grasping air.

With no name for Drew’s mom, and no guarantee her last was Hughes, I went to the manager’s office. And I just got lucky.

Her name is Nancy Hughes, and she stopped paying the rent in September of 1999. Drew paid it for the rest of the lease term, which ended the following February. According to the note in the resident file, he paid in cash. Seems mom moved out, or just up and left one day. Poof.

Andrew was living alone in the apartment then?
How was he paying for rent with just a minimum-wage job?

I showed the manager the article about Andrew, and then I lied. I said I was a private investigator. I don’t know why. Maybe to justify why I was having her dig up rental information from five years ago. Anyway, she got off on it, and kept rooting around in the Hughes file for me, like a movie sidekick.

She found something. A third party check, covered rent for December of ’98. Kurt Malone. I’m thinking this is stepdad. The manager photocopied the check for me and ten minutes later I was calling the phone number printed with Kurt’s address in the upper left hand corner.

No luck there. Disconnected.

So I took another approach and called 411 for a local realtor service. You can do a search for contact information for a specific realtor, I remember hearing about this from a coworker who’d sold his place in Greatwood. Malone was listed under a little Re/Max affiliate office in Katy. I got that number and called there, left message.

Evelyn, the owner, called me back and said Malone hadn’t worked there in forever. He up and vanished, left her with all kinds of issues. She thinks he had financial problems and bailed for Mexico. I find it hard to swallow a theory told to me in stage whisper, but maybe that’s just her personality.

Still, that’s two people gone. Before, I thought maybe mom just moved in with stepdad. Now, I don’t know that the hell to think.

The call went on for half an hour as I got to hear the HR “nightmare” Evelyn went through thanks to Kurt’s disappearance. Halting his benefits, freezing the 401k plan, surrendering documents to the police, etc.
I finally broke in and asked about the house. The one out in west Houston he owned.

She got very quiet after that.

It took me another ten minutes to answer her questions about who I was. This time I was honest and up front with her. I guess it paid off, because she believed me, or at least believed in my intentions, and she checked her records.

I have an address, Eric.

Kurt had his own home in Sugar Land, but get this – he was renting a house from a client. Way out west, near Pecan Grove Plantation. The paperwork was curious, since he was supposed to be selling this place, but the previous owners had signed off on it, in multiple places, like it was no real conflict of interest.

She didn’t know what happened to the house after it was seized by the bank. I guess I’ll find out tomorrow when I drive out there.

I’m close, man. I’m real close.