Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Murder of Rick Chance

The Plot

Rick Chance was growing bored with the auto glass business, so he turned back to his avocation jewelry design. He wanted to make it big in jewelry as he had done in the glass business, but he was reckless, naive and cocky, according to people in the business. He would carry around thousands of dollars worth of jewelry and gems and show them to anyone. Chance told friends he wasn't worried because the jewelry was insured and could be replaced.

"But your behind can't," one friend remembers telling him.

Chance's success-at-any-cost drive led him to take chances of another sort, as well, the Arizona Republic reported. He was not a licensed Rolex watch dealer, but he was particularly fond of selling them. A spokesman for Rolex told the newspaper the company would have legally barred him from continuing to sell its watches had it known. He began placing advertisements in local papers to sell his jewelry designs, and police believe that is how Hungerford, Chance and Lemke ended up together in a Tempe hotel room.

Chance worked both the wholesale and retail ends of the jewelry business, buying from designers and selling the pieces to merchants, while claiming he had designed the pieces. He loved to move Rolex watches, friends told authorities.

While he was busy trying to crack into the very closed world of jewelry sales, Chance was marketing to the masses, as well. He placed several ads in the classifieds section of the Arizona Republic for diamonds at below-market cost. Asked where the jewels came from, he said sometimes people who owed him money would pay in gems.

According to her confession, Hungerford answered Chance's advertisement for a Rolex watch. She told authorities that Lemke wanted her to ingratiate herself to Chance, gain his confidence, drug him and then the pair would steal his jewelry.

Hungerford told police she liked Rick Chance, but that he tended to think his money could let him get away with more than it really could.

She confessed to police that she had met with Chance several times at Lemke's request, sometimes over dinner or drinks, but that the relationship was strictly platonic. Hungerford did not deny leading Chance on, police said.

As if they were acting in a bad comedy, the pair's first attempts to rob Chance failed miserably. Hungerford told authorities she met Chance at a Starbucks Coffee shop and he showed her his jewelry designs. A few nights later she called him and they met for Mexican food. After dinner, Chance invited Hungerford back to his home all part of the plan, she told police. They proceeded to his house where they talked and smoked marijuana. She excused herself and while in the bathroom she phoned Lemke, who was driving around, waiting for her to let him into Chance's estate. They connected, but Hungerford had forgotten the street address and a frustrated Lemke went home.

"And I couldn't remember what street Chance lived on . . . cuz he was askin' me which street does he live on, I told him I, I, I didn't know, I couldn't remember," she told police in her statement.

Hungerford told police she and Lemke developed a "safer" plan to rob Chance at a hotel to avoid the possibility of his children or household staff catching them.

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