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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona • Page 130
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Arizona Republic from Phoenix, Arizona • Page 130

Arizona Republici
Phoenix, Arizona
Issue Date:

2 The Arizona RcpublicTHE PHOENIX GAZETTE Wednesday, April 5, 1995 A While her mom worries teenager lives secret life Dad charged with embezzling over $800,000 -'f ill Bridle path centennial The North Central Phoenix Homeowners Association celebrates 100 years of the Murphy Bridle Path with ice cream, music and family activities, including a walk from North Phoenix Baptist Church to Cross Roads United Methodist Church. The walk will begin at 9 a.m. Saturday at Central Avenue and Bethany Home Road. Activities will be at Central and Northern avenues. For more information, call 943-0523 or 266-2256. Veteran's Memorial Coliseum and Exposition Center south hall, 1826 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix; 252-2294. Admission is free, $3 parking fee. Jbfet- it I VJ "11V Nancy Engebretson Staff photographer. Penny Nickel-Relf has been hunting for her daughter, Heather, now 14, since she disappeared with her fugitive father: in; September 1992. ODAY EVENTS South Mountain Lions Club Will collect eyeglasses, hearing aids and donations: From 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Fry's Food Store, 520 E. Baseline Road; 228-2726. RELIGION Lenten Services Ash Wednesday commemoration of the Lenten season concludes: Begins 6 p.m. with dinner, 7 p.m. services at King of Kings Lutheran Church, 3314 W. Rose Lane; 973-0500. Collection will be taken. HEALTH Alcoholism Treatment Seminar For professional health-care providers, presented by Dr. David Smith on the topic of ReVia, a new relapse-prevention drug: Begins with dinner 6.30 p.m., keynote speaker 7:15 at Westcourt Buttes Resort, 2000 Westcourt Way, Tempe; 878-7878. Free. Treating Personality Disorders Seminar on cognitivebehavioral approaches with personality disorders for physicians, nurses, psychologists, counselors and other health-care professionals: From 8 to 9 a.m. April 5 at St. Luke's Behavioral Health Center Auditorium, 18(30 E. Van Buren Phoenix. Reservations: 251-8127. Free; includes continental breakfast. SPORTS Girls Softball TryoutsRegistra- Hon Downs-Spitalny Girls Softball League tryouts for girls in grades K-12: 6 to 8 p.m. April 5 and 6 at Glenn L. Downs School, 3611 N. 47th Phoenix; 272-5059. $25 fee includes shirt. If a girl's sister plays, the cost for her is $20. HURSDAY EVENTS Great Arizona Rib Roundup Four-day festival offers free live entertainment along with ribs and fixings from local and national restaurants. The food will be for -sale from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. through Saturday and 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 9 at the outdoor Civic Plaza, Phoenix; 948-8414. Steppen-wolf performs tonight. Free admission. SPORTS Women's Golf Tournament Sponsored by Junior Achievement of Central Arizona and Del E. Webb Foothills Corp. Includes a golf clinic with LPGA champion Jan Ferraris, scramble format tourney, silent auction and dinner: Begins at 11:30 a.m. with registration, shotgun start at 1 p.m. at Foothills Golf Club, 2201 E. Clubhouse Drive, Phoenix; 271-4210. Girls Softball TryoutsReglstra-tlon Downs-Spitalny Girls Softball League tryouts for grades K-12: 6 to 8 p.m. at Glenn L. Downs School, 3611 N. 47th Phoenix; 272-5059. $25 fee includes shirt. If a girl's sister plays, the cost for her is $20. HEALTH Arthritis and Pain Management Orthopaedic Arthritis Centers seminar presented by Jan Revella: From 11 to 11:45 a.m. at the Squaw Peak Senior Center, 2927 E. Campbell Road, Phoenix; 241-7477. RIDAY EVENTS Great Arizona Rib Roundup By Clare Ullk Staff writer Heather Anne Relf is a young teenager living a secret life. For nearly three years, 14-year-old Heather has been hiding, living on the run with her father, Richard Relf, a fugitive charged with stealing more than $800,000 from his Phoenix employer. No one knows where they are. Or who they may have become. Relf had legal- custody of Heather when the two disappeared in 1992. Heather's mother, Penny Nickel-Relf, gained custody last summer and grows more desperate each day to find her daughter, whom she remembers as a freckled 11-year-old. "It has gotten to where focusing on other things is not easy, because all I want to do is get her back, said Nickel-Relf, a petite 39-year-old who covers up her fears by being organized and methodical in her search for her missing child. "She's get- HEATHER ting older, and she needs her mother. And she's going to need some psychological help after living on the run and feeling like she has to defend her father for hiding her all these years." When she disappeared, Heather was about 4 feet 8 and thin, with long, strawberry blonde hair. She has freckles across her nose and cheeks, and blue eyes. Relf is 6 feet 2, about 300 pounds, with brown hair and hazel eyes. Nickel-Relf is convinced that Relf has changed his and Heather's identities. She said he's done it before. When she met him in 1979 in Seattle, he went by the name Edward Galen Vachta. He had used a dead man's Social Security card to acquire the identity. "He told me it was because he had left an. ex-wife and child back East, and he didn't want them to find him," Nickel-Relf said. Relf resumed his given name when the couple moved to the Valley, where Relf family lives. Relf and Heather disappeared from their Cave Creek home on Sept. 9, 1992. He had been fired for stealing money from his employer, Brown Wholesale Electric and was nervously awaiting the outcome. Relf was indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury on two counts each of fraud and theft a month after he fled. He allegedly embezzled more than $800,000 by having checks sent to fictitious suppliers and then pocketing the money. If convicted, Relf could be sentenced to a maximum 48 years in prison. Unopened letter Nickel-Relf learned of her ex-husband's disappearance when she received an unopened letter that she had written to Heather, along with a note from Relfs third wife, Joanne Johnston. It said: "Richard and Heather left Sept. 9 without leaving any notes or tnessages. This is all I know. Sorry, Joanne." Johnston told Nickel-Relf that her husband had run up the couple's charge cards just before fleeing. She never heard from him again, and she divorced Relf about a year later. A reporter's attempts to locate Johnston were unsuccessful. Nickel-Relf and Richard Relf divorced in 1983, when Heather was 1V. At that time, Nickel-Relf had a drinking problem that she couldn't control. She felt that hJL Four-day festival continues with free live entertainment, ribs and fixings from local and national restaurants: From 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. at the outdoor Civic Plaza, Phoenix; 948-8414. Auction and Sale Sponsored by the Animals Benefit Club of Arizona Inc. to raise funds to support the group's no-kill animal rescue and adoption shelter in Phoenix: 6:30 p.m. at the Valley Polo Club, 2530 N. 64th Scottsdale; 943-2822. HEALTH Center D.O.A.R. Care Giver Seminar Topics include issues of caring for the elderly, community resources and abnormal aging: From 9 a.m. to noon at The Church at Litchfield Park, 300 N. Litchfield Park Road, Litchfield Park; 274-5022. $3 registration fee. ATURDAY EVENTS Lupus Foundation Sale Butterfly Boutique and Yard Sale: From 9 a.m to 4:30 p.m. at 1429 E. Virginia, Phoenix; 247-7067. Great Arizona Rib Roundup Four-day festival continues with free live entertainment, ribs and fixings from local and national restaurants: From 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the outdoor Civic Plaza, Phoenix; 948-8414. Elks Parking Lot Craft and Rummage Sale Operated by volunteers from Phoenix Elks Lodge 355: 7:30 a.m. at the lodge, 14424 N. 32nd Phoenix; 482-2335. Pueblo Grande Republican Women's Club New members are welcome to attend a Luau: 11:30 a.m. Call for location: 412-1098. No charge for new members. Used Book Sale Friends of the Phoenix Public Library are holding a clearance sale: From 9 a.m, to noon for members, noon to 3 p.m. for the public at the Phoenix Public Library Central Library Auditorium, 12 E. McDowell. Phoenix Bach Choir Auditions Open to those who possess a professional level of vocal training, sight-reading skills, a knowledge of foreign languages and choral experience: From 2:30 to 8 p.m. today and from 2:30 to 6 p.m. April 22 at Central United Methodist Church, 1975 N. Central Phoenix; 256-BACIL SPORTS Southwestern Disabilities Expo The Arizona Office for Americans with Disabilities presents exhibitors, wheelchair basketball games, raffle, food and more: From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Arizona 151)1 GlwM Avi. ZIP COllCS CaitwM i (South and West Phoenix neighborhoods, Sunnyslope, schools, and crime) RuthAnn Hogue 271-8029, news assistant Laurie Roberts 271-8885, editor of regional sections Tom Blodgett 271-8006, regional sports coordinator Si UNDAY EVENTS Used Book Sale Friends of the Phoenix Public Library are holding a clearance sale: From 1 to 3 p.m. at the Phoenix Public Library Central Library Auditorium, 12 E. McDowell Road. fS0NDAY EVENTS AARP Chapter Meeting Discuss common concerns of senior citizens: Begins 12:30 p.m. at Phoenix Desert West Senior Cen: ter, 6501 W. Virginia. Free. Free Caregiver Training Maricopa County Attendant Care offers free two-week training classes in caring for the elderly and disabled: Frorh 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. through April 20 at 2121 E. Magnolia 389-4990. SPORTS Southwestern Disabilities Expo Continues: From 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. at Arizona Veteran's Memorial Coliseum and Exposition Center south hall, 1826 E. McDowell Road, Phoenix; 252-2294. Admission is free, $3 parking fee. UESDAY SPORTS Phoenix Table Tennis Club Offers extended hours with open play and league competition from 6:30 to 10 p.m. Tuesdays and Thursdays and from 2 to 6 p.m. Saturdays at Hoffman Gym, 1718 W. Maryland Phoenix. Cost: $3 each day. First day is free. OMING UP 55Allve Mature Driving Course sponsored by AARP: From 1 to 5 p.m. April 18 and 20 at Phoenix Desert West Senior Center, 6501 W. Virginia Phoenix; Reservations: 495-3709. $8 covers materials. 1995 Electric Vehicle Pride Expo Display and rides in vehicles of the future built by Mountain Pointe High School students: April 21 and 22 at 4201 E. Knox Road, Phoenix; 759-8449. American Marketing Association Meeting Peter Levin, director of marketing for Cadillac Motor Car, will speak: Begins with registration at 11:30 a.m., 11:45 lunch and noon presentation April 19 at Phoenix Country Club, 2901 N. Seventh Phoenix; Reservations 451-1978. $20 members, $23 guests, $15 students. I If you have an item for Community's Bulletin Board, mail it two weeks in advance to: Mary Gindhart, Community Bulletin, The Phoenix GazetteThe Arizona Republic, 120 E. Van Buren Phoenix 85004. Items may be faxed to 271-8911. Include time, day, place, cost and information number. Correction An article on the March 22 ALT. page incorrectly reported that daylight-saving time would mean more daylight in the morning for It would add ail hour of daylight in the evening. secretarial work and writes maga-' zine articles and fiction. She has built a healthy relation-; ship with her older daughter from a first marriage, Tammy Hughes, who now is 22 and lives in Mesa. 'She'd be perfect' "There was a time when I would sav there was absolutely no wav' Heather should go live with my; mother," said Hughes, who was' raised primarily by her paternal! grandparents. "But, honestly, now I think, she'd be perfect. I've seen a iig! change in my mom. We're very close now, and I'm behind her 100 percent." i Hughes and Heather became! especially close after Hughes got; her driver's license. Heather was 8 then. For the next three years, the girls spent happy weekends at; their mother's, going to malls and movies. "I miss her very much -1 want her to come home soon," Hughes said. "My biggest hope is she is OK and she's happy. But I'm also mad, because I feel like my mom and my whole family and I are being; robbed of her." Until Nickel-Relf gained custody of Heather last year, she could find no one who would help search for her daughter. Now, missing child reports are on file with several Valley police departments, and Heather is listed with the National Center" for' Missing and Exploited Children, Teen magazine is publishing letter to Heather from her mother;" in its May issue. Nickel-Relf also" has appealed for help from the; national television show "AmerK-ca's Most Wanted." She realizes that Heather likely! will blame her if the pair is found; and Relf goes to jail. "It took me a long time to! overcome that fear," she said. "Now I feel, too bad. She's; coming up on some really years, years I remember goiag! through. She needs me. And tSdlt a real good position now tojgjKj her." Warner Road, Tempe. April 29: Bashas', 1122 Higley Road, Mesa. April 30: Bashas', 8740 Shea Scottsdale. May 5, 6 and 7: Mega 1140 W.Elliot Road, Tempe. May 11, 12 and 13: 4505 E. Thomas Road, Phoenix. The train will run from a.m. to 5 p.m. each day. Ftogeri; printing will be done from to 4 p.m. "TZ'Z'Z' As members of the Shgjff Junior Safety Posse, childrelP get a membership ID card, tipzAsy now to have fun and still stayZSifcXJ and future mailings. Their will get a photograph and finge' print record to' file in a safe place" Heather would have a more stable life in her father's home. She was granted "reasonable visitation" in the divorce decree. Relf married Johnston about a year later. He and Heather lived with Johnston and her daughter, Tiffany, in Phoenix and later in Cave Creek. Heather had a horse and other pets, nice clothes, dance lessons and trips to Europe. "At one point Joanne quit her job to stay home with Heather, which I really appreciated," Nickel-Relf said. Heather stayed with her mother every other weekend, and the two wrote letters between visits. Shocked by crime When the pair first disappeared, Nickel-Relf was more shocked to learn of Relfs criminal activity than she was worried about her daughter. "I thought they had the perfect marriage, the perfect family. Heather was being raised so well. She was living the kind of life I couldn't give her. "Rich and Heather were very close, so I wasn't worried about her safety. And I wasn't really mad, not yet. I was just shocked by the crime." Relfs parents say they have no idea where their son is. "I miss my son I cry every day about it, but I can't do nothing about it," Martha Relf said. "I wonder where they are all the time." She prays that her son can stay hidden until Heather is 18 because she doesn't think Nickel-Relf is a fit mother. "When he comes back, he'll go to prison, that's for sure, and what's going to happen to Heather?" she said. "I think my granddaughter's better off with him (her father) until she comes of age." Nickel-Relf acknowledges that she lost many years to alcoholism and that her guilt about being less than an ideal mother is a heavy burden. But she has been sober now for several years. She does The train will be hosted on weekends by Valley grocery chains. Child awareness and safety tables will be set up at the train site and in other chain stores to distribute safety literature and fingerprint children. On Friday, the train will be at the ABCO store at 1500 W. Warner Road, Gilbert. On Sunday, the train will be at the ABCO store at 20165 N. 67th Glendale. Child identification will take place from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. each day at Smitty's stores around the Valley. Future train locations are: April 21 and 22: Fry's, 4949 W. Ray Road, Phoenix. April 23: Fry's, 3901 E. Thun-derbird Road, Phoenix. April 28: Bashas', 1761 'l West Phoenix Community Train aims at protecting kids Published Wednesday and Friday Office: 120 E. Van Buren Phoenix 85004 Display ad: 271-8443 Classified ad: 256-91 11 To subscribe: 257-8300 To fax a document: 271-8911 Hours: 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mary A.M. Gindhart 271-8875, Central Community editor Mike Padgett 271-8633, (Central and Downtown Phoenix neighborhoods, schools, housing andf health) Alfredo Azula 271-8812, (Downtown and West Phoenix neighborhoods, crime, schools, and parks and recreation) Ryan Konig 271-8791, By Clare Ullk Staff writer The Train of Values chugged into town Friday. On board is a nationwide effort to protect children from predators. The miniature passenger train will be at grocery stores all over the Valley through May 13. After children take a ride, volunteers will photograph and fingerprint them and enroll them in Maricopa County Sheriff Joe Arpaio's new Junior Safety Posse. The train's visit to the Valley is sponsored by the Arizona Deli and Bakery Association, Coca-Cola, the Marc Klass Foundation for Missing Children and The Nation's Missing Children Organization Inc.

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