PORTLAND, Ore. (Portland Tribune) — The woman whose determination helped break open the Starry Night murder case is telling her story for the first time.
Kathy “Kat” Hand worked at the Old Town concert hall in the months before owner Larry Hurwitz murdered promotion manager Tim Moreau on Jan. 23, 1990, to cover up a financial scandal. Hand stopped working there shortly before Moreau was killed and did not know how Hurwitz killed him or where he had hidden the body, stalling the police investigation for years.
But Hand knew enough to be convinced Moreau was dead and that Hurwitz had killed him. And she was close to a Hurwitz associate who knew some of the actual details. When Hand’s past caught up to her more than eight years later, she took it upon herself to find out what happened to Moreau. The decision followed a complete transformation in her life, a lesson in atonement and redemption.
Hand told her story to this reporter as part of a documentary being developed by Jacob Pander, a freelance OPB producer who is half of the Pander Bros. comic book team (with brother Arnold) and the son of famed Portland artist Henk Pander.
Smart, boisterous and self-effacing, Hand is an iconic counterculture character, a mature but still lively rock and roll fan who embraces life and is deeply spiritual, despite not admitting to any organized religion. She wears her graying hair long with purple highlights, dresses in tied-died shirts and laughs freely at herself, while keeping her younger days off the record for now.
What follows is some — but far from all — of Hand’s story. She has since married and is now Kathy “Kat” Garcia.
Meeting the guru from Portland
Hand, as she was still known, met Harvey Freeman in the mid-1980s at the Outlook Inn, a resort on Orcas Island in Washington, located 80 miles northwest of Seattle. At the time, Freeman was a former guru who had operated a commune in Centralia, Washington, and opened the first health food restaurant in Portland, the Center Family Restaurant, in the 1970s. Hurwitz was married to Freeman’s daughter then and first moved to the Portland area to live on the commune.
When Hand first saw Freeman, he was preaching an Eastern-influenced New Age sermon to a small group of followers. She was immediately “mesmerized” by him.
“He was spiritual and powerful,” Garcia told the Portland Tribune, admitting she cannot actually remember anything Freeman actually said at the time.
Sometime later, in need of a job, Hand called Freeman, who also worked at the Outlook Inn, and asked if there were any openings. After he hired her as a dishwasher, she was quickly promoted to being the personal assistant of one of the owners. Freeman left in early 1988 and moved to Portland after Hurwitz asked him to help open a second business, Day for Night, an upscale restaurant and bar a few blocks away from Starry Night. Freeman soon called Hand and asked if she was willing to help out.
“I sold everything I had and moved to Portland,” Garcia said.
There was still a lot of work to be done before Day for Night opened, however. In the meantime, Hurwitz allowed Freeman and Hand to live in a windowless room beneath the stage at Starry Night for free.
“When I woke up, I couldn’t tell if it was day or night. Sometimes bands practicing or recording woke me up. I remember hearing Little Feat and watching the ceiling light sway,” Garcia said.
Hurwitz also put Hand to work at Starry Night, although she said he did not pay her anything. The work also was unusual. Among other things, she staffed the front door, where she admits cheating customers out of money by shortchanging them on their cash ticket purchase change. If they gave her a $50, she’d give them change for a $20 and pocket the rest. Hand also helped cook the books, she said, to cheat promoters out of their fair share of the door by undercounting the customers.
And, at Hurwitz’s direction, she produced counterfeit tickets for Starry Night shows booked by outside promoters. They were sold at Day for Night when it opened, with Hurwitz pocketing all of the proceeds instead of splitting it with the promoters, which he was required to do with real tickets.
“I basically stole money for Hurwitz,” Garcia said.
Asked if she had misgivings at the time, Garcia alluded to her past.
“Where I come from, you’re either family or a mark,” she said.
Turning her life around
By late 1989, Hand’s life was spinning out of control. She already had been doing drugs, including cocaine, with some Starry Night employees. Broke, she began working outside jobs, but kept being asked to work shifts at Starry Night, where her drug use escalated.
Finally, Freeman told her she had to make a choice and recommended she go into treatment. Hand agreed, but before she left Starry Night for good, Hurwitz asked her to teach Moreau how to counterfeit tickets, and she did.
Hand was in treatment when Monqui Presents owners Mike Quinn and Chris Monlux discovered counterfeit tickets at the John Lee Hooker concert they were promoting at Starry Night on Jan. 20, 1990. Hurwitz immediately denied any responsibility and accused Moreau of counterfeiting the tickets without his knowledge and keeping several hundred dollars Hurwitz had given him to buy real tickets to be resold at Day for Night.
After Moreau was reported missing three days later, Hurwitz said Moreau had admitted counterfeiting the tickets on his own during a heated confrontation at Starry Night — and then vanished into the night.
Hand read about the developments in the Oregonian and Willamette Week. She immediately knew Hurwitz was lying because she had taught Moreau how to counterfeit the tickets at his direction and assumed Moreau was dead. But she couldn’t prove it.
“All I knew was, it could’ve been me who was disappeared,” Garcia said.
Hand voiced her suspicions to a man associated with her treatment and got on with her new, clean life. She worked for nonprofit organizations and attended Narcotics Anonymous meetings for a few years. Then she took a civil service exam for the state of Oregon. A short time later, she got a letter from the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
“I thought they were going to arrest me. Instead, they offered me a job,” Garcia said.
Facing her past
Hand accepted the offer and started as a filing clerk, inserting microfiche files into sleeves. She worked herself up through the ranks over 25 years, eventually becoming an investigator who helped determine whether an applicant qualified for a liquor license. Then, when Oregon voters legalized marijuana, she began working cannabis growing and dispensary applications. She retired in 2018.
But long before then, in June 1998, Hand was contacted by the man she had talked to while in treatment. He started asking about their conversation concerning Hurwitz. Immediately suspicious, Hand asked what was going on. It turned out that he and his wife had told a police investigator that she had admitting knowing details of the murder eight years earlier.
When Hand realized what was going on, she demanded to be put in touch with the investigator, Herschel Lange, who was assigned to the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office. Hand agreed to be interviewed by Lange and other investigators and even passed a lie detector test to prove she didn’t actually know anything about the murder.
And then Hand asked Lange for a favor. Years earlier, she had written a letter of atonement to Moreau’s parents for anything she had done that contributed to his death. She had never sent the letter because she did not have their address, and she asked Lange to give it to them.
Lange did. A short time later, Hand met Mike and Penny Moreau at the Heathman Hotel in downtown Portland, where they brought her breakfast.
“I asked them not to tell the police, but I was going to find out what happened to their son,” Garcia said.
Hand then tracked Freeman down at the Outlook Inn on Orcas Island, where they had first met. On Aug. 1, 1998, she drove up to talk to him.
Over a few days, Freeman slowly revealed to her that, the day after the counterfeit tickets were discovered at Starry Night, Hurwitz had talked about needing to kill Moreau to cover up the scandal. Hurwitz and sound engineer George Castagnola then borrowed Freeman’s car, an aging Cadillac with a huge trunk. A Washington State trooper stopped them in the Columbia Gorge and discovered mud-encrusted shovels in the trunk, which he documented in a report. Freeman said the two had dug a grave to bury Moreau the day before killing him.
Armed with this knowledge, Hand recontacted Lange. After assuring her that police would be on Orcas Island to arrest Freeman, he arranged for her to call him on a tapped phone to confirm her account. Hand did, but she went even further, telling Freeman she was working with the police to solve the murder — all to give Moreau’s parents peace of mind.
“I didn’t plan to do that, but I was very stressed and it just came out,” Garcia said.
Alarmed, Freeman fled the island before the police arrived and caught a flight to Thailand, where he had a hut on a beach, a remnant from his guru days. But it was too late. The police and DA’s office had Freeman arrested and thrown in jail. Then they negotiated a deal. Freeman insisted he would only cooperate with the investigation if he was provided with a free attorney and granted immunity from all crimes he had ever committed. Eager to finally solve the case after so many years, the DA’s office agreed, and Freeman was flown back to Portland in early September 1998.
That was just weeks after Hurwitz entered the federal prison in Sheridan to serve a one-year sentence on federal income tax evasion charges.
A month later, following police interviews with additional witnesses and around-the-clock surveillance of Castagnola, police arrested Castagnola on murder charges on Oct. 27. He cut a deal and admitted to helping Hurwitz kill Moreau and hide the body in exchange for a reduced sentence.
The next month, on Nov. 20, Hurwitz was charged with murdering Moreau. Hurwitz also cut a deal and received a reduced sentence because Moreau’s body had still not been found. But the case was finally solved nearly nine years after the killing with Hand’s critical assistance.
Freeman passed away several years ago. Garcia said she saw him one more time before he died at a memorial service for a mutual friend.
“He was furious with me when he was arrested and thrown into a Thailand jail. But he said he’d forgiven me, and we had a good talk,” Garcia said.
Hurwitz was released from the murder sentence on lifetime supervision in 2008. In 2019, he was arrested in California with 4.4 pounds of cocaine and $326,000 in cash in grocery bags in the back seat of his car. After being of convicted of drug and illegal money charges, he was released into the custody of the Oregon Department of Corrections in January of this year and sentenced to six months on jail in Multnomah County for violating the terms of his parole, the maximum sanction for such a violation. He is scheduled to be released on July 10, 2023.
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