Read Part 1 here.
Read Part 2 here.
Kenneth Michael Trentadue’s battered body arrived at the southern California mortuary, met by his Hispanic wife and mother of his two-month-old son (Carmen Aguilar Trentadue), and Kenneth’s mother. That he wasn’t rather in an urn was a miracle. Kenneth’s battered and bloody body had been lying in the Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center (OKFTC) infirmary two weeks earlier, on August 21, 1995, dying supposedly from hanging himself. Acting Warden Marie Carter, in order to cover up the obvious murder, was desperately trying to get the body cremated. This proved to be unsuccessful as well as illegal, according to federal law.
When the body arrived at the mortuary, Kenny’s two dozen wounds were covered heavily in makeup.
As Kenny’s brother Jessie Trentadue would later relate, it was the women in Kenneth Trentadue’s life who undressed Kenny and scraped the makeup away. It was the women who decided to meticulously photograph Kenneth’s dozens of wounds. Strangely, the clothes on Kenneth were not his own. The T-shirt, pants, shoes, and socks that he was wearing while murdered conveniently disappeared. When the Medical Examiner team had arrived on the morning of August 21, 1995, Trentadue was merely clothed in a pair of boxer shorts.
At the time of Kenneth Trentadue’s murder, he and his wife Carmen had been living an idyllic life in Mexico. Carmen, a native Mexican, had given birth to a beautiful baby son, Vito Miguel, two months earlier.
Kenneth Trentadue, after robbing banks under the alias Vance Paul Brockway, getting caught, and paying his debt to society with six years in prison, was now committed to raising a family. He and his parole officer had had an argument as to whether he should be allowed to drink beer. Kenny saw nothing wrong with it, while his parole officer thought otherwise. In the end, Kenny would stop showing up to meet with his parole officer to simply be able to drink beer, and a warrant was issued for his arrest. No one came looking for him, however.
At least until the beginning of August 1995. He had been crossing the Tijuana-San Diego border, driving into the States to work a construction job when a Border Patrol agent stopped him for appearing to be drunk. Upon a check, the Border Patrol agent found the outstanding warrant, and Kenneth Trentadue was taken to jail.
This was, however, during the time of the biggest manhunt in U.S. history. The Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in downtown Oklahoma City had been bombed on April 19, 1995, and the whole world was looking for the perpetrators. Timothy McVeigh had been caught, but his accomplice, referred to as John Doe #2, was still at large. By many witness accounts, this John Doe #2 had been seen with McVeigh when he rented the Ryder truck at Elliott’s Body Shop used in the bombing.
Unfortunately for Trentadue, he was almost an exact match of the description witnesses had given of John Doe #2, including a dragon tattoo on his left arm. Soon, U.S. Marshals would arrive to fly Trentadue via a chartered jet to Oklahoma City Federal Transfer Center, where he would later be beaten to death.
Of course because John Doe #2 was eventually determined to be a mass hallucination by all the witnesses, the fact that Kenneth Michael Trentadue was beaten to death would also be deemed to simply be a conspiracy theory.
But the fact is that a woman, Carmen Aguilar Trentadue, the loving wife of Kenny and mother of his beautiful two-month-old son, stood there in a southern California mortuary and undressed her husband, scraped away the thick makeup, and wondered who had committed this heinous crime and why the great United States of America was covering it up—literally.
Is one man’s life worth the trouble to ask “who murdered him?” Is the sorrow of one woman, not even an American citizen, worth the trouble? Is the pain of a boy growing up, having his father viciously taken away, worth the trouble?
Fred B. Jordan, the Medical Examiner who knew it was murder from the day the battered body of Kenneth Trentadue lay on the gurney in his examination room, thought so. He thought so when he looked into the eyes of the three women in Kenny’s life—his mother, sister, and wife—and told them he would never go back on them. That was a promise made, and a promise broken. Why?
Enter Tom Bevel, the crime scene reconstruction expert brought in after it was apparent the Bureau of Prisons, FBI, and Deputy (and later Acting) Attorney General Eric Holder were not making any progress in the case. The investigation had been marred by lies and cover-ups, including Eric Holder’s ad nauseam gag orders and calls for keeping documents out of the hands of Congressional investigators because of “ongoing investigations”—sound familiar?
Tom Bevel was sort of a wonder boy, retired from the Oklahoma City Police Department where he served as a detective. He could be labeled a “problem solver” like Winston Wolf in the movie Pulp Fiction, known for making “problems” go away. He even had a bestselling book, Bloodstain Pattern Analysis. Too bad for him that the bloodstains in Kenny’s cell were meticulously cleaned before he could analyze them. But that didn’t stop Bevel from contriving his fantasy.
One of Bevel’s wondrous works of “problem solving” was the matter of Fred B. Jordan. Jordan, along with promising the family that he’d never give up, made a rare appearance Fox News on July 3, 1997, almost like a voice crying in the wilderness for justice. But Jordan hadn’t met Tom Bevel, the Winston Wolf of this world. After a few minutes with Bevel and his outrageous report as to how Trentadue came to die, Jordan quickly changed his tune. On July 10, 1998, almost exactly a year after his impassioned appearance on Fox News, Jordan signed the death certificate, probably with a shaky hand and with Bevel probably looking over his shoulder smiling eerily. His shaky hand would write “Suicide.” Whether Bevel whispered the name Alden Gillis Baker in Jordan’s ear as his shaky hand scrawled the word “Suicide,” we shall probably never know. Baker was the inmate who had stated Trentadue had been tortured and beaten to death, and who later “hung” himself.
Bevel penned the fictional exposé (entitled the “Wintory Report,” named after his minion Assistant Prosecutor Richard Wintory) describing how Trentadue, in a 16-minute period of time, made it look like he had been tortured and murdered.