Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan on February 2, 1994 · Page 4
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Detroit Free Press from Detroit, Michigan · Page 4

Detroit, Michigan
Issue Date:
Wednesday, February 2, 1994
Page 4
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TROIT FREE PRESSWEDNESDAY, ow plot Here's the latest version of events surrounding the Jan. 6 attack on figure skater Nancy Kerrigan in Detroit, based on interviews, court documents and summaries of interviews released Tuesday by the FBI and authorities in Portland, Ore. Harding, who has not been charged with any crime, disputes most of what others have said, maintaining that she knew nothing of the attack until after it occurred. Mid-December: Tonya Harding finishes a discouraging fourth in a world figure skating competition in Japan. As the U.S. championships in Detroit approach, she sees her dream of Olympic gold fading and blames political judges who prefer Kerrigan. Back home in Portland, her live-in ex-husband and manager, Jeff Gillooly, confides Harding's frustration to his old pal Shawn Eckardt, who has worked as Harding's bodyguard. "What if Nancy were to receive some type of threat?" Eckardt asks. Intrigued, Gillooly says Harding would have to be told of such a plan so she would know the threat was not genuine and her performance would not be affected. Gillooly says he discussed the plan with Harding, who pronounced it "a good idea" but doubted Eckardt's ability to carry it out. Eckardt believes a threat against Kerrigan will boost his bodyguard business. He tells Gillooly he knows people who can take care of such things. Week of Dec. 18: Harding makes plans to travel to the nationals with a $10,000 donation made through the U.S. Figure Skating Association by New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner. Gillooly figures there will not be enough money left to pay the $4,500 Eckardt has estimated for the Kerrigan job. Dec. 24: Gillooly receives repeated phone calls from a man identifying himself as Derrick who wants to discuss a business proposal involving Eck- " ardt. Gillooly tells Eckardt he is worried about being identified and wants to stop everything. Dec. 26: Assured by Eckardt that Derrick is just a middleman for the real bad guys, Gillooly agrees to a meeting to hear Derrick's proposal. He tells Harding they will need some information about Kerrigan's training schedule. Vera Marano, a figure skating writer in Pennsylvania, gets a belated "Merry Christmas" call from Harding, who tells her that to settle a bet, she needs information about where Kerrigan practices. Marano gets the name of the Boston area rink and relays it to Harding. Dec. 27: Gillooly cashes a check for $3,000 and tells Harding he is going to meet Derrick the next day at Eckardt's house. Dec. 28: Eckardt's mother, Agnes, greets Gillooly at the door and says the others are already there for the meeting. The participants include Derrick Smith, who describes himself as "the type of person to solve people's problems," and Shane Stant, who is wearing a black hat, a black Australian outback-style coat and black, fingerless gloves. They discuss cutting Kerrigan's Achilles tendon and breaking her leg or kneecap. Eckardt suggests a car crash, even murder by sniper fire. The men decide the easiest place to get at Kerrigan will be her training site in Boston. Smith promises that if the job isn't done, he and Stant will chip in for their own expenses, in effect a "money-back guarantee." Eckardt and Gillooly later discuss a $2,000 payment. Eckardt hugs Gillooly and twice says, "We're going to make a lot of money." Gillooly recalls Harding laughing about the "guarantee" after she picked him up from the meeting. "I think we should go for it," he tells her. According to him, she replies: "OK, let's do it." Gillooly recalls Harding calling the rink in Massachusetts for Kerrigan's practice times. Harding later tells the FBI that Gillooly made the calls and told her to say she did if she was asked. Stant flies to Boston, planning to stalk and assault Kerrigan. During a second meeting that evening with Harding present at Eckardt's home, Gillooly asks Agnes Eckardt about the plan. "I think it will work," she says. Harding is surprised she knows, but Gillooly assures her she knows about everything her son Shawn is involved in, and Harding replies: "That's kind of neat." Execution begins to look iffy Dec. 29-30: There is no word from Boston, and Gillooly complains to Eckardt that he feels "out of the loop" on the plan. Eckardt says the hit team needs more money and Gillooly replies. Some of the Gillooly's statement THE PLOT: Gillooly explained that on Dec. 27, 1993, (Shawn) Eckardt had asked Gillooly about cutting Nancy Kerrigan's Achilles tendon, and Gillooly told Eckardt that Kerrigan's landing leg was the most important part of her body . . . Gillooly stated Harding assured him that Nancy Kerrigan's landing leg was her right leg. . . . Gillooly stated he also told Harding that things were happening kind of fast, and that Derrick (Smith) had a guy leaving from Seattle that FEBRUARY 2, was born, unraveled -vt Jeff Gillooly arrives Tuesday for lawyer Ron Hoevet. Gillooly has "What, do I have 'stupid' written across my forehead?" Eckardt says Harding skates up to him during a practice and says: "If it doesn't get done, you call them and get the $2,000 back." Gillooly is ready to write off the money. Jan. 2-4: Eckardt tells Eugene Saunders, a minister and former junior college classmate, that he is involved in a plot against Kerrigan. Jan. 3: Stant never sees a chance to attack Kerrigan, and takes a bus to Detroit. Eckardt says the hit man reported that Kerrigan did not even practice Jan. 3, but Gillooly says an outraged Harding calls the Cape Cod rink to confirm that she did. Jan. 4: Stant checks in at the Super 8 Motel in Romulus, Mich. Kerrigan and Harding arrive in Detroit and check into the Westin Hotel At Eckardt's house, Gillooly frets in the presence of Agnes Eckardt that he has been ripped off by the hit men. Eckardt assures him the job will be done, because the men intend to reap a bonanza afterward by selling their services as a security force for skaters. Agnes Eckardt says it sounds like a scam to her. Gillooly later is surprised to learn by telephone message that Stant is in Detroit; he doesn't think the job can be done there safely and offers to reimburse Stant for expenses and send him home. Gillooly and Eckardt drive to a Western Union outlet in Vancouver, British Columbia, where Gillooly gives him about $750. Gillooly says Eckardt is to wire the money to Stant so he can go home; Eckardt instead wires it to Smith, so he can join Stant in Detroit. Gillooly says he calls Harding to alert her that the people who are going to do "the Nancy thing" are in Detroit and she replies: "You're kidding." Jan. 5: Smith flies from Phoenix to Detroit and links up with Stant. Eckardt tells Gillooly that he secretly taped the meeting where the attack was planned, and a lot of money is at stake in seeing that it's done. Gillooly asks Harding about hotel security and the skaters' practice sessions. He says she supplied Kerrigan's room number and practice times. Gillooly says they agreed the best chance would be to attack Kerrigan in her room. . Eckardt endorses that plan and suggests the hit team wrap up Kerrigan in duct tape to make their getaway. Smith and Stant reject the idea, after realizing during a dry run that it could take almost five minutes to escape through the Renaissance Center to the street. Eckardt asks Gillooly to send him to Detroit so he can do the job himself, explaining that he could smuggle a gun in his luggage and simply shoot Kerrigan at first opportunity. He is convinced that after an attack, Steinbrenner will cough up $50,000 or more to protect Harding from a "mad stalker." Gillooly decides Eckardt should stay in Portland. Jan. 6: Stant clubs Kerrigan in the knee after practice at Cobo Arena, then escapes in a car driven by Smith. Gillooly gets a call from Harding in Detroit. "It happened," he remembers her saying. "What happened?" "Nancy. They did it." "You're kidding!" "No." "Did they get away?" "I don't know." Gillooly tells Eckardt, who shouts "It happened!" and tells his mother to begin videotaping all TV newscasts. Eckardt tells Gillooly to come over right away and bring money for the team in Detroit. Gillooly withdraws statements night and one from California tomorrow to travel to Boston. Harding asked what they were going to do, and Gillooly told her they were going to break a long bone. ALIBIS: Gillooly stated that on Monday night, Jan. 17, 1994, he tried to convince Harding that they should tell their attorneys the truth, but Harding refused . . . Harding said if she changed her story now, it would not look good. She also said tf she did not talk to the FBI, she would not be able to go to the Olympics. ..... 1 Jf u,. - J "1 prr? bti M is STEVE SLOCUMAssociated Press court in Portland, Ore., followed by agreed to cooperate in any trial. $3,000 from the bank and drives to Eckardt's home, where Agnes Eckardt tells him: "You had better get them out of there." Gillooly and Eckardt drive to a grocery store with a Western Union outlet to wire money to Detroit. On the way, Eckardt says tie hit team beat up a reporter in a bar and stole his credentials to get into the ice rink, and had to duct-tape a security guard in order to escape. He says Stant hit Kerrigan three times in the leg and once in the head before dropping a sinister note and fleeing. Police find no note at the scene. Kerrigan, struck once in the right leg, is treated at Hutzel Hospital and released. Jan. 8: Gillooly flies to Detroit. With Kerrigan sidelined, Harding wins the championship. But Kerrigan, expected to recover in time for the Olympics, is named to the U.S. team with Harding. Jan. 9: An anonymous caller tells Detroit Police that she heard a tape of Eckardt and another person plotting to hurt Kerrigan. She knows the names "Derrick" and "Eckardfc" In Portland, Saunders tells the FBI about a tape of attack-plan meeting Eckardt played for him. Gillooly and Harding are interviewed by Detroit police and the FBI. Gillooly gets nervous when the name "Derrick" comes up and expects to be arrested. He awakens Harding in the middle of the night to tell her what to say if the name "Derrick" comes up when police talk to her. "We're never going to get out of here, are we?" she answers. Jan. 10: Harding and Gillooly are questioned briefly in Detroit, then fly home to Portland. Eckardt greets them and they discuss plausible alibis for anything that might link them to the attack. Eckardt calls Smith to share the alibis. Jan. 12-14: Confronted by the FBI, Eckardt confesses that he conspired with Gillooly, Smith and Stant to attack Kerrigan; Smith is located in Arizona and gives a signed confession to the FBI. Stant turns himself in to the FBI in Phoenix and confesses. Jan. 18: During a 10-hour interview with the FBI, Harding admits she has lied about some things, but insists she knew nothing of plans for the attack. She announces she is separating from Gillooly but claims he is innocent. A warrant is issued for Gillooly's arrest. Harding tells Gillooly she "really screwed up" the alibi explanations but didn't implicate him. He drives into the Oregon woods and spends the night in his rented Lincoln Continental. Jan. 19: Gillooly surrenders and is charged with conspiracy to commit assault. Jan. 20: Gillooly tells Harding he has seen the notes of her interview with the FBI and knows what she really said. "That's cheating," she replies. Jan. 25: Harding moves her things out of the home she shared with Gillooly, pausing to give him a hug and say: "I really appreciate you taking all the blame." She says she is not worried that the FBI will find out she got Kerrigan's Detroit hotel room number, because the Westin employee who gave it to her was "a ditz" who won't remember the conversation. Jan. 26: Gillooly meets with investigators. He answers questions for 17V4 hours over the next two days. Feb. 1: Gillooly pleads guilty to one count of racketeering in the attack on Kerrigan in a deal that will mean two years in a federal prison and a $100,000 fine; he also agrees to continue cooperating with the investigation. Harding issues a statement saying Gillooly's charges "appear to evidence a continued practice of abusive conduct intended to disrupt Tonya Harding's life and destroy her career." to the FBI Harding excerpts THE MONEY: Harding said that in Detroit on Jan. 6, 1994, after Nancy Kerrigan was attacked, Harding called Gillooly and asked Gillooly to come to Detroit and to bring Eckardt with him because Harding feared for her safety. Harding said that Gillooly told her that he had gotten money out of the bank to hire Eckardt's business so that Eckardt, who had a back injury, could hire someone to travel to Detroit to protect Harding. However, Harding said that to her knowledge, no one came to Detroit to protect her.

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