By On the occasion of our 20th anniversary
By Gustavo Arellano
By R. Scott Moxley
By Alfonso Delgado
By Courtney Hamilton
By Joel Beers
By Peter Maguire
By Charles Lam
Cole and Knapp went their separate ways, but they continued to fight the Chastains for control of their son; once a hairstylist, Knapp says she funded her legal effort by becoming an exotic dancer and launching a website, www.kaliforniakittens.com.
Holmesly says the Chastains fought back with the most powerful tool at their disposal: their official contacts in law enforcement. (The Chastains refused to comment for this story.) Putting Cole in prison on drug charges, Holmesly claimed, was part of the Chastains' plan to keep their grandson away from Randy and Kim.
To bolster her claim, Holmesly pointed out that Cole had been arrested at a motel in Orange—by a Newport Beach narcotics detective. And not just any Newport cop, but Detective Tom Weizoerick, the very same man who had repeatedly busted Cole. Each time, Holmesly asserted, Weizoerick was acting on the tip of a confidential informant who just happened to know Cole's location. That informant, Holmesly assured me, was Chief Chastain.
During her son's May 2001 trial, Holmesly said, the DA had offered him a plea bargain: just 16 months in jail if he would cop to the crime of selling speed. Cole refused, insisting he was innocent of all charges. Tactically, that proved a mistake. After a two-day trial, a jury found Cole guilty.
By the time Holmesly called me, I had just a week before Cole's Aug. 7, 2001, sentencing hearing. He faced a maximum sentence of seven years in prison. Holmesly begged me to work fast to clear his name.
"Please help us," she begged. "We're good people."
Police records showed Randy Cole had been busted several times for possession of speed, but not once for selling or possessing drugs with intent to sell. At one point, Cole had apparently cleaned up his act. On Nov. 25, 1997, he successfully completed a county drug-treatment program.
When I talked to Cole on the telephone from his holding cell in the Orange County Jail in Santa Ana, he told me he used to work as a high-altitude construction worker, a job that attracts type-A personalities like his. He admitted that he became addicted to speed but said he had kicked his habit after his son was born. But in April 1998, he said, he got hurt. While working on Knott's Berry Farm's Ghostrider attraction, Cole says, he was struck by a falling 18-foot plank. He was lucky to survive, but the injury led him to painkillers and, from there, back to speed. That led to yet more trouble with the law. Police reports show that Weizoerick arrested Cole at least twice—once in Orange and once in Fullerton—after his workplace injury. Once again, Cole tried to get clean: on June 29, 1998, he completed yet another county drug-treatment program.
Like Holmesly, Cole told me that Weizoerick kept arresting him because Chastain, the Newport Beach fire chief, was trying to win custody of his son.
Cole's run-ins with Weizoerick peaked in October 2000, when Cole's lawsuit against Knott's Berry Farm reached the critical courtroom phase. Cole thought he was about to cash in big-time: he had videotape that showed the falling debris landing on his back while he was working. All he had to do, he figured, was show up in the Orange courthouse, roll the videotape for a judge, and collect his money. So Cole pitched camp at the nearby Residence Inn Hotel in Orange.
"I wanted to isolate myself from bad influences," he told me.
Police records show his new girlfriend, Tina Carpinella, stayed with him at the hotel in Room 1321. There, Cole admits, they "partied on speed" with several of their friends. He says the drugs were Carpinella's, but that's not what Carpinella told police.
On Oct. 11, Cole says, tired of the relentless partying, he reserved another room, 1313. He says he spent the night in 1313 alone, preparing for his courtroom appearance the next day. Late on the morning of Oct. 12, he walked over to 1321 to pick up some clothes.
Cole admits he shot speed earlier in the morning and was just coming off his high. He never made it to court. As he rolled out of the motel parking lot, a man in a police uniform blocked his car. Cole recognized him instantly: Detective Tom Weizoerick of the Newport Beach Police Department.
"I said, 'What the fuck are you following me for?'" Cole recalled.
Weizoerick's report says, "Cole seemed very agitated and nervous. He was sweating, and his hands were shaking. His pupils appeared dilated well above normal, and he was speaking rapidly. Cole had a white film on his tongue and outer lips. I told Cole that I was conducting a narcotics investigation and that I had received information that he was possibly dealing drugs. Cole said he was not, and he wanted to know 'what asshole said that?'"
In his report, Weizoerick claimed he received Cole's "verbal consent" to search his motel room for drugs and that he took a motel-room key from Cole's wallet. But the key didn't fit the door to the room Weizoerick wanted to search—1321, the room of endless partying. It did fit Room 1313, which Cole had rented the night before.