Pinole Police held a news conference, attended by Amber’s mother, Kim Swartz, at which they said that Anderson had confessed to abducting Amber in June 1988 and taking her to Arizona where he killed her in a motel, before dumping her body somewhere in the desert.
Anderson made this confession in November 2007, a month before he died in prison. Anderson, as you probably know by now if you’ve followed news about him or Amber’s case, was serving some 300 years in prison for crimes against three Vallejo girls. One was 7-year-old Xiana Fairchild, who disappeared in 1999. The other was 8-year-old Midsi Sanchez, who was kidnapped by Anderson in 2000, held for several days by Anderson and sexually assaulted before escaping.
In their press conference yesterday, Pinole police acknowledged that they have not found Amber’s body and suggested the chances of finding any trace of her remains was slim, after all these 21 years. Also, it appears that Anderson didn’t give specific information about where he dumped her body, and he died before police could go back and re-interview him and get more details.
In addition to no body, there is no physical evidence.
However, police insist they spent the last year and a half corroborating what Anderson told them. They also said there is strong “circumstantial evidence” to tie Anderson to the case. This circumstantial evidence includes the fact that, at the time of Amber’s June 1988 disappearance, Anderson had just been paroled from prison and was hanging out in West Contra Costa County and had become familiar with its streets by working as a cab driver.
I watched the press conference, and police didn’t say much more about this circumstantial evidence. A reporter friend who was at the press conference and has covered East Bay crime for many years, including the disappearance of Amber and of other Bay Area girls, said the police were reluctant to release many details about what Anderson said, mostly because other agencies are apparently looking at other crimes Anderson either confessed to or might be linked to. Pinole police didn’t want to give too much away, apparently so as not to jeopardize these other investigations.
I hope so. But, then, I’m not the only one who is wary. Amber’s mom, Kim Swartz, said in the press conference and in an interview I heard this morning on KGO radio that she feels like it’s hard to be certain that Anderson killed her daughter. With no body, and no physical evidence, she said, it’s hard to find “closure.” She said she was also concerned that police had not been able to administer a polygraph to Anderson before he died.
Yesterday, I also checked in with a source who works in Contra Costa law enforcement and who is familiar with some of the specifics of this investigation as well as Curtis Dean Anderson himself. This source, while hoping police are right, expressed wariness as well, and not just because of the lack of body and physical evidence.
He pointed out that Anderson liked to boast about crimes he committed, and some he may not have. Anderson displayed a strong need for attention; his tendency to string reporters and victims’ families along has been well documented, most recently in an article today in the Contra Costa Times.
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.
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.