Part IV: Dumped Divorcee
On a dark summer night, Beamer wearing all black—turtleneck and Eileen Fisher (baggy) pants, an oversized pair of sunglasses that covered most of her face, and a midnight black knit stocking cap pulled down to her nose that made her look like the senior version of a cat burglar, rented a Mini Cooper and drove the 250 miles to Sam Tate’s gated community. She waited for someone else to open the gate then followed fast and entered his million- dollar modernist condo complex. She parked, checked the door, which hadn’t been locked—he was always so confident, walked gingerly across his antique oriental rugs in the foyer, and ascended the stairs. According to news reports later, she entered his sage green and French vanilla color-schemed master bedroom where he was sitting watching an old “Law & Order” in his customized king-sized bed and held him at gunpoint, forced him downstairs, shot him point blank, put the body in the car, and transported it to a Western Elite dumpster located in a industrial park next to a cold storage food business. The headlines the next day read: “Business Executive Who Dumped Wife Gets Bagged.” But whomever did this onerous deed, was still a mystery.
Beamer slipped out of town furtively and quickly after the deed. She dropped off the Mini Cooper, hopped a Greyhound bus back home so she’d blend in with the crowds and her movements would be less traceable. Apparently, the Jewish octogenarian slumped down low in her seat throughout the six-hour trip home as if that would help her hide from authorities. The man in the seat next to her kept prattling on about how much he couldn’t stand his son-in-law. “He’s such a looser. He won’t work while my daughter stands on her feet all day long doing hair.” This was a subject a little too close to Beamer’s recent actions to make for easy conversation.
By the next morning, the gumshoes were all over the case. As several weeks went by, they were growing impatient without results. “We need a break in this case,” a law enforcement official was quoted in the paper as saying.
Of course, the spouse or, in this case ex spouse, is always the first suspect. And the authorities got closer to solving the case when FBI agents arrested Patty who was spotted at a nearby tony restaurant yucking it up with a friend who also had been dumped. The two were sipping Dom Perignon, a bottle Patty had culled from her ex husband’s off- site wine cellar.
Cops closed in and surrounded Patty to question her, although it still was not clear whether she played murderer, accomplice, or mastermind. Patty looked like a deer caught in the headlights as they interrogated her for 10 hours at the local jailhouse. She tried to bribe them offering to bake one of her pineapple-orange-cherry upside down cakes for the department. They didn’t take the cake.
However, after not getting anywhere with Patty, police continued their search, and next day arrested Beamer after her fingerprints matched one on the gun, which they found in a field one block away from the dumpster. Beamer confessed after six hours of questioning and also no food or water. “I had no choice. He was making my daughter’s life miserable,” she said sobbing with Patty by her side. “I’ve lived a good life and will make do: my daughter’s happiness is more important. She needs to regain her life,” she decried in court as they hauled her off in handcuffs to prison for life where they made her change into the de rigueur jailhouse orange jumpsuit. Beamer resisted at first shouting, “But orange was never my color.”
Patty said that visiting her mother in prison and then leaving her there was gut-wrenching. “It’s terrible.” Her 80-plus-year-old mother was sharing a cell in a minimum-security dormitory-type concrete building with a septuagenarian who had robbed her 13-year-old grandson’s piggy bank that contained his Communion and birthday money.
“How could you kill Sam?” Patty asked when she was able to get her mother alone in her dank jail cell. “What were you thinking? I hated him but you didn’t have to do this. It was my issue.” Beamer leaned forward to hug her daughter and whispered in her ear, “I did it for you,” then asking if she should call an attorney.
They two women settled on their former neighbor, who had never liked Sam, Tom Grumwald. His position was to get a judge—female—to show compassion for Patty and even more for her mother because of her age and unblemished record—not one speeding ticket or attempt to sneak in a 12-and-fewer items line at the supermarket.
But Beamer, ever the Pollyanna, was determined to make the best of the lockup. After a lifetime of cooking dinners for her family and helping Patty every holiday, Beamer, an expert in organization behavior psychology, began looking forward to having three well-balanced meals prepared for her, although she complained the food was worse than airplane fare. But, she reasoned, they might be able to use her expertise in the kitchen and in organizing activities for the inmates. In addition to her Jewish recipe tips, she helped improve the prison’s terrible, too carb-ish food and those long empty days.
Beamer also quickly made friends among the inmates. During the day, she would exercise daily by walking in circles in the prison yard and teaching inmates yoga as Martha Steward had done and wowing them with stories of her best holiday dinners. She found joy in teaching inmates to read and write akin to the late Jean S. Harris. The press had a field day as news of her improvements leaked out. Headlines screamed; “Jewish Bubbee Pops Cheatin’ son-in-law,” Dessert Chef’s Octogenarian Mom Does away with Philanderer and Liar,” and “Middle-aged Women Rejoice Everywhere Screamin’ Justice is Done.’”
The press came out in droves to snap Beamer, now inmate #20456, and her baker daughter showing their solidarity standing side-by-side and with desserts for the staff and inmates. Patty was distraught that she hadn’t lost more weight or had her hair colored before the photographers captured her on film. But it was great publicity for her fledgling business. “How could I be on the front pages of national newspapers and inside “People” magazine with my roots showing? How will I ever find another guy when I look this terrible?” Admittedly, it was a missed opportunity.
Best of all because of her many good deeds, Beamer was released early as the judge was besieged by petitions from other dumped females worldwide that saw the publicity about what she did for jilted womankind. Shortly after, a movement started that spread across the country called: Dumped Women International (DWI). It became a huge nonprofit and 501(c) (3) corporation.
A Five-Star Sweeter Life
In the meantime, Beamer once out of prison, moved in with her daughter. Patty had sold Beamer’s home, figuring her mother was now housed by the state. With Patty’s new celebrity, her business was thriving as her sugary success took her to TV as a wealthy celebrity chef. She had a weekly blog in the “Huffington Post.” Her mother also got in the act once released as the new face of Patty’s company featured in a series of new TV ads as the “Baking Bubbee Who Knows Best—or else!” showing her wearing an apron inscribed with a pair of dirty hands and the words: “Don’t mess with this Bubbe.” At the same time, mother and daughter appeared together on magazine covers worldwide while Patty was inundated with invitations to speak and bake here and there, including the annual Hanukkah party at the White House that President Clinton had initiated years before. Forget the annual gingerbread house on view; everyone wanted to eat, not just look, and those crispy latkes were to die for…well, almost. Huge chocolate edible dreidels were another hallmark of her repertoire.
Most important, the traces of Sam’s cheating life he had bought to feed his midlife crisis were given away, auctioned at Christie’s and on eBay, or sold outright due to the enormous publicity generated. At last Patty had gained a chance to bake up her new sweeter life. And she did live happily ever after, but that’s another story.