Thanks in part to Stickles' letter, Piho spent several months in county jail instead of five years in a state prison. She has moved to San Diego and could not be located for an interview.
Homayan Bakhtar faces a Dec. 16 pretrial hearing at Harbor Municipal Court for the drugs, including GHB, Detective Yourex found in his bedroom. At his Nov. 18 arraignment, Bakhtar said he would plead not guilty. Outside the courtroom, he refused to discuss Andrea Nelson's death.
"I don't think I should talk about it," he said. But when asked if he was innocent of any wrongdoing, he brightened up. "Oh, yeah," he said. "Absolutely."
Two days earlier, on Nov. 16, Mr. J's closed its doors for the last time. The Johar family, which had owned and operated the club since 1988, sold the property to Honda Santa Ana for $1.9 million.
The club's sale paves the way for an expansion of the Santa Ana Auto Mall, part of the city's redevelopment zone. Soon Mr. J's will be buried under an asphalt parking lot and rows of shiny new Japanese cars. The event will be a happy one for Santa Ana city officials, who have been trying to wrest the property—and potential sales-tax revenue—away from Mr. J's for years.
Within a week of the deal, the club's signs had been torn down or painted over and lines of used cars with balloons were displayed out front. The door was locked, but inside, leopard-print wallpaper and an empty cash register were visible in the dim interior light.
Replacing a strip club with a car dealership is what redevelopment experts call progress—replacing urban blight with the hope of prosperity. But burying Mr. J's won't diminish Linda Cator's grief, and it won't erase from the history books the seedy nexus that existed there between drugs, sex and cops. And if you believe in such things, you might say the ground beneath it will always be haunted by the mysterious death of the woman who helped bring it all down.