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Authors: Suzy Spencer

Tags: #True Crime, #General

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BOOK: Wasted
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At first, Hartwell tried to hide her Austin life from her Pasadena friends and family. “I want to be a lawyer,” she said to Amy Seymoure. “I’m going to the University of Texas,” she lied. She also told her father she attended U.T. and that she had become a born-again Christian.
However, one day, a Pasadena friend saw Hartwell as she marched in a gay pride parade. He told someone, who told someone, who told Amy Seymoure. It was no surprise to Amy. She loved Regina no matter who or what she was.
On Regina’s next trip to Pasadena, Amy made sure they got together. That was easy—every time Regina came home from Austin, she made a point to sit down and visit with Amy’s parents.
She confronted Regina about Regina’s homosexuality. “I support you completely. I love you very much. I don’t care what you are, you’re still my friend,” Amy Seymoure said.
Hartwell sighed, embarrassed but relieved.
“You look like you’re in the wrong place. You look like a bar hopper,” Regina’s friends said to her. They stood in Sadie’s and pointed to her feminine clothes. These were friends who were close to her, who knew her for a few days, or for weeks.
“You don’t have to dress like that. You don’t have to draw attention to yourself because we like you anyway.” Hartwell’s appearance began to change. Gone were the dresses and the long hair. In their stead came fashionable Calvin Klein and Donna Karan.
But Sam Reynolds felt she and Ynema were the only ones who really liked Regina for herself. Sam, Ynema, Regina: they made a great trio. Sam and Regina would dance together while Ynema dealt blackjack. After Sadie’s closed for the night, they would go to Regina’s house for more fun at a slumber party.
There they would talk. Regina knew that others were using her—using her for the drinks she bought them, the gifts she gave them, the limos she ordered to chauffeur them around each New Year’s Eve when she was close to dead broke.
It hurt her that they were using her, but she accepted it. It was worth the love and attention—anything to be center of attention. Fake friends were better than being alone.
The only funny thing, though, was that some of those fake friends didn’t believe Regina Hartwell when she told them she had money. Another one of her lies, they thought. But Sam Reynolds saw papers from Hartwell’s trust officer, and she was there when Hartwell talked to her attorneys. She just never knew an actual amount. Two million, Regina told her.
Two million. Three million. Zero million. It didn’t matter to Sam. She didn’t need Regina to escort her around town in a limo or anything else. Her family had their own money. She certainly didn’t need Regina’s dough.
Hartwell found herself falling in love with Sam. It scared her, and she fought it. She didn’t want anyone who was beautiful on the inside. She just wanted someone who was beautiful on the outside. Sam was beautiful on the inside, and she was reserved. Regina was everything that Sam wasn’t—confident, outgoing, spontaneous—and Sam was drawn to that.
She was drawn to Regina’s beauty and childlike heart. Regina brought out the best in Sam, and Sam loved her for that—for bringing her out of her shy shell.
Hartwell appreciated that Sam Reynolds loved her for simply being Regina, and she loved Sam back for that. Besides, Hartwell liked women who were pleasers, and Reynolds was a kind, sweet pleaser.
Everyone in Sadie’s knew what was about to happen. Everyone but Sam Reynolds.
Regina Hartwell rushed up to the deejay, shouted in her ear, then tipped her well. She walked back to Sam with a huge smile on her painted on lips. She waited. The music started. She reached out for Sam. “This is for you,” she said. The song in the air was Basia’s “Time and Tide.”
Everyone watched as Regina led Sam into the center of the dance floor, into the center of attention, and slipped an engagement ring on Sam’s hand. It was a gold nugget ring in the shape of Texas, with a diamond placed strategically where Austin should be. Regina proposed.
Reynold’s friends shuddered. They’d all known her since high school. They knew how she hated to be in control. They watched Regina in Sadie’s and saw, in action, her need to control.
Some thought Hartwell wanted to be a man because of that need. Externally, she was often very feminine, but she could also be as butch as any dyke on the street. Lipstick and butch—she was an oxymoron. And she struggled with those two sides of herself.
To Sam, Regina talked about her father—how she didn’t have a relationship with him, how she wanted a relationship with him, how she only saw him at Christmas. But the entire time Sam knew Regina, Regina rarely went to Pasadena for Christmas.
One night, Sam Reynolds overheard a conversation between Regina and her father, who was on a speakerphone. His voice was deep and Texan. He sounded loving, caring, like he longed for his daughter. But as soon as his voice grew sentimental, Regina picked up the phone, and Sam heard no more. Their conversation ended soon after.
“I’ve been with men before,” said Hartwell.
Reynold’s face squinched with pain, but she tried not to show it.
“I’m seeing a guy who’s a dancer in a bar, like a Chippendale’s dancer.”
Sam relaxed and giggled to herself.
Regina’s lying just to get my goat,
she thought. After all, Regina was known to frequent stripper nights in gay men’s bars.
The control side ruled. It ruled everything, including Regina’s sex life. Regina had to be the dominant partner, and she was a rough dominant partner. After Sam had been with Regina, she would find bruises on herself—on her arms, wrists, shoulders. But Regina Hartwell never had any bruises. Hartwell was a doer; she didn’t allow herself to be done much.
Reynolds’s friends just didn’t know what Sam knew—the sweet scent of Regina’s hair, her expensive aroma of Drakkar, her skin as soft as a baby’s, or that Regina had a big heart under a big bosom, and that with Sam, Regina had orgasms.
In 1991, Regina Hartwell’s stepbrother, Brandon Swate, petitioned the 309th District Court of Harris County, Texas to allow him to move out of Mark Hartwell’s house. Court records state, “. . . that Dian Frances Swate Corley Hartwelle [sic] has participated, along with stepfather Mark Hartwelle [sic], in psychological and physical abuse of the child.”
On March 11, 1991, in the same month the Hartwells began selling their Seabrook home, Brandon Swate signed an affidavit that stated, “I do not wish to continue to live with my mother, Dian Hartwell, as I no longer wish to be subjected to the emotional abuse inflicted upon me by her husband, Mark Hartwell.”
“I hate having to live under my parents’ rules. It’s ridiculous. I can’t come and go as I please. They ask me what time I came in, who I was with, what did we do—everything. I can’t do anything,” Sam Reynolds griped.
“Stop,” said Regina Hartwell. “Just stop. Quit your whining. At least you have parents. At least you have your mom and your father, and they love you. So just quit your whining. I don’t want to hear about it.”
It was a common conversation between Sam and Regina. If Sam complained about parents, school, whatever, Regina’s response was always the same. “Quit your complaining. Just pee or get off the pot.” She was a tough parent.
She was also a tender parent.
Reynolds was about to go over to Hartwell’s when Reynolds learned that her aunt had died. Devastated, she ran to Regina, breaking down and weeping, “My aunt died.”
Hartwell wrapped her arms around her. She hugged Sam and held her, letting her cry.
In shock, Sam whispered, “Why are you doing this?”
“Because I know what it’s like to lose somebody, and that’s an okay situation to cry in,” said Regina.
Regina Hartwell worshipped Madonna, the star-studded, flashy celeb whose mother died when she was young. In her own life, Regina recreated Madonna’s persona from the movie
Truth or Dare
—daring, funny, wild, sometimes crude, sometimes cruel. She even tried to walk and talk like Madonna.
Because of that, Hartwell loved “the scene,” and she couldn’t give it up. But Sam Reynolds wasn’t fast-paced, glamorous, or able to fit into the scene. Sam couldn’t be what Regina wanted her to be. She could only be herself, just like Regina could only be herself, not what Sam wanted her to be.
“I do cocaine,” confessed Regina.
“I don’t approve,” said Sam.
“I know,” Regina answered, staring down at her toes, her hands deep in her pockets. “I promise I won’t ever do it in front of you.”
Both knew it was an empty promise. But in those days, it was a simple promise. Sam and Regina saw each other in the bright hours of daylight, rarely in the darkness of night. Sam never saw Regina do drugs.
Regina Hartwell and Sam Reynolds took jobs at Sadie’s. Hartwell dealt blackjack while Reynolds shined boots. It was work that Sam loved.
One night, a group of male University of Texas psychology students walked into Sadie’s. “We’re here doing research for a psych paper—research on lesbians.”
Regina Hartwell flirted with them and teased them.
They flirted and teased back. “Are you sure you’re gay?”
“Yes,” she answered, laughing.
“You can’t be. You’re too pretty.”
Regina ate up the attention. “Oh, yes, I am.”
Visions of sugarplum lesbians danced in the boys’ heads. Visions of love and attention danced in Regina’s hazel eyes. Suddenly, Sam started to believe that Regina had dated men.
Sex was a strange thing for Regina Hartwell. She showed signs of sexual abuse. “I’ve had sex with men and with women,” Regina said to Ynema Mangum, “but I don’t have any feeling inside.” There was no hard evidence that she had been sexually abused.
In fact, many people didn’t see Regina as a sexual creature. They didn’t think she’d let go of her feelings enough to be a sexual person.
Hartwell’s body was too numb to feel. To feel sex, she had to have a fist rammed up her anus. To feel sex, she had to bleed.
Hartwell and Reynolds stayed together for four or five months before breaking up. Like many couples, they were growing in separate directions. They went to the Magic Time Machine restaurant to make their breakup official. They both grinned from ear to ear, especially Sam. She’d never experienced an amicable breakup.
Their waiter noticed their smiles. “What are y’all celebrating?”
“A divorce,” said Regina.
He turned to Sam. “And what are you celebrating?”
“A divorce,” she answered.
“Y’all are both getting divorced from different guys?”
“No,” said Regina.
“Then who are you getting divorced from?”
Regina’s big grin grew into a smirk. “From each other.”
The waiter nearly fell to the floor, and Regina and Sam laughed and laughed.
But it was never a solid breakup. Regina Hartwell and Sam Reynolds came and went and bounced between others and each other. They got back together after a couple of Erasure concerts. They went to two last movies together—
about a man who dies and comes back to see his lover, and
the story of medical students toying with death and the afterlife.
Sam and Regina talked long and hard about their afterlives. Then, Reynolds moved away from Austin. Today, she knows she’ll see Regina again in their afterlives.
For Hartwell, things started going downhill after Sam. More and more people started using her. More and more, she needed people to use her. More and more, she wanted to feel love, to be accepted, to be a leader, the star, worshipped.
She told friends that, in high school, she’d had plastic surgery to make her nose look more like Marilyn Monroe’s, another sweet, motherless child who just wanted to be loved and adored.
Mark and Dian Hartwell eventually returned to the home that Mark once shared with Regina’s mother. He told the Seymoures, “Seabrook’s just too uppity for Dian and me.” Regina considered her father to be a gun-toting redneck, an opinion some other people shared.
But if there was one thing her airplane-mechanic father knew, it was airplanes. Mark Hartwell, the man who had left his nearby NASA neighborhood for Pasadena, owned a vintage ’68, fixed-wing, single-engine Piper.
“You don’t scare me. You don’t intimidate me. There’s nothing that you have that I want,” said Anita Morales to Regina Hartwell. Anita and Regina were temporarily roommates, and they were in the midst of a fight.
The fact that Anita stood up to Regina, that she didn’t need anything from her, created respect and loyalty for Anita in Regina—so much so that if someone got mad at Anita, Regina would take a beer bottle to the person.
“You’re not going to get to her without getting this bottle over your head,” she’d yell. Regina was loud.
She burped loud, laughed loud, and farted loud. She was tough on the outside, scared and lonely on the inside. She loved to laugh at others and loved it when others laughed at her. She loved drama. And if Regina Hartwell thought a friend had wronged her, watch out.
Mike White was a 6’5”, handsome, young man with a high IQ. He loved the fast life of the Austin gay scene, and he loved the fast drugs of the Austin gay scene, especially cocaine.
In the early nineties, he met Regina Hartwell, in a bar. She was a little overweight and complained about it at length. She had long, burgundy hair, and wore baggy jeans, Doc Martens, T-shirts, and baseball caps. Although she dressed like a little boy, she was very proud of being a woman.
They were introduced through Hartwell’s best friend at the time, a young man named R. A. They partied and did drugs. The drugs helped them cope with “coming out,” with disapproving families, and fogged their memories.
The drugs also helped them fight. R. A. ticked Regina off, they fought, they split, and Mike and Regina eventually became roommates.
In 1992, White and his friend Trey Lyons went through a string of bad roommates, and they needed a place to live. Regina Hartwell offered to help them out. After all, she was very good friends with Trey, and Trey was the kind of person Regina liked to be seen with. He was cute, he was a user, he would clean her house, he would take care of her dogs, he had a lot of friends, and he was good with the social scene. Mike and Trey could stay with Regina for a while.
They moved into her house on Lambs Lane in deep south Austin, east of Interstate 35, just past a trailer park. It was a small, stone-and-frame house in a neighborhood of overgrown weeds and rusted-out cars on jacks. Old pickup trucks and older boats were parked in driveways of homes with windows shaded by falling-down curtains and bent miniblinds. Year-round Christmas lights trimmed a few rain gutters.
But Lambs Lane was also just a fifteen-minute freeway drive from Sadie’s and Austin’s downtown gay bars. It was also indicative of Hartwell’s increasingly oxymoronic life—good car, crummy home, friends who used her for her money, friends who loved her for being Regina.
Mike White and Regina Hartwell became close friends. They were a lot alike. They both had a heart of gold, and always wanted to make sure that everyone was happy, having a good time, taken good care of. They became good friends despite the fact that Hartwell, at that time, was very against men.
From White’s point of view, it was a time of a lot of dyke drama—constant girlfriend switching, swapping, jealousy, anger, Regina seeing someone she thought was lofty or she couldn’t have and setting that person as a goal.
From Ynema Mangum’s point of view, Hartwell chose women for maternal reasons. She picked women who would discipline her and make her feel bad about herself. In Regina’s mind, they gave her what she deserved.
New Year’s Eve Regina gathered her children, as she often called them, for their annual year-end party rite—limo, champagne, and bar-hopping. Ynema was invited, but she didn’t want to go. Regina begged, pleaded, and Ynema went. It was nice to be wanted that badly.
The limo pulled up, with a fully stocked bar and Dom Perignon champagne. Regina always had to drink Dom when she traveled in a limo. The driver treated Regina like a queen. She knew what she was doing; she drove Regina every New Year’s Eve.
They stopped and picked up two more girls. Hartwell was giddy—friends, a limo, and two beautiful girls whom Regina lusted after. Regina couldn’t decide which girl she wanted. Then, one of them turned cool to Regina, and Regina’s ego hurt. The party ended as a night of drama.
Mangum didn’t have one bit of fun. To her, it was all immature. Besides, Ynema had more important things on her mind—school, career. Life and self-images were changing, at least for Ynema.
Regina Hartwell walked into Sadie’s. In the smoky, dim bar light, she spotted Joyce Cody. Regina called it love. Others called it obsession. Regina wanted Joyce Cody. So did Hope Rockwell. It was early April of 1992, and Cody was drinking with Rockwell. She was also flirting with Rockwell, who was flirting back. Hartwell tromped up to them and jerked Rockwell around. “If you don’t stop sleeping with Joyce, I’m gonna rip your head off and piss down your throat.”
At four a.m., April 7, Joyce Cody was at home, asleep alone, when Regina Hartwell came calling. But Cody didn’t know Hartwell was there because Hartwell came calling through Cody’s unlocked bathroom window.
Regina was detected only because a man named Calvin Pope caught her crawling out of Cody’s window as he circled the house, pounding on the doors and windows. Pope was trying to wake someone as he needed a place to sleep. When he spotted Hartwell, she spotted him and crawled back into the house.
“Open the door,” he yelled at her. “Open the door.”
She finally did.
“Joyce’s roommate is here,” he lied to her.
Regina left.
Around noon that same day, Joyce Cody reported Hartwell for burglary. “She’s threatened me with bodily harm,” Joyce told the police officer. He searched the premises. Regina’s muddy footprints were found in Cody’s bathroom. “She didn’t have my permission to enter my house or take my property,” Cody continued. “I want to press charges.”
On April 10, 1992, a criminal-trespass complaint was filed against Regina Stephanie Hartwell in Municipal Court of Austin, Texas. Six days later, at 7:10 p.m., Regina Hartwell was arrested and placed in jail. She listed her nearest relative and permanent contacts as Mark Hartwell, Amy Seymore [sic], her high-school friend from Pasadena, and Tammy Weeks and Amy Teykl, both from Austin. Teykl was a neighbor of Hartwell’s on Lambs Lane.
Today, Teykl claims to have barely known Regina.
Two hours later on April 16, 1992, Regina Hartwell was brought before Municipal Judge Celia Castro. Hartwell stated that she was an Austin Community College student and had lived in Travis County for three years. The judge ordered her to appear in Travis County Court of Law #1 on May 20, 1992, then released her on a $3,000 personal bond.
On May 20, Hartwell’s case was continued to September because Calvin Pope could not be located. Court records speculate that he might have been in the Austin State Hospital.
That fall, Hartwell’s attorney told her he didn’t think she needed to worry about anything—the police couldn’t find the witnesses.
Regina grinned. “I know Joyce won’t testify. I tracked her down in Dallas, went there last weekend, and made up with her. She won’t testify.”
The charge against Regina Stephanie Hartwell was dropped.
On occasion, Amy Seymoure tried to talk Regina out of her gay lifestyle, not because she was concerned that Regina was gay, but because she was concerned about Regina’s nightlife—the bars, the partying, the friends who used her. Seymoure was worried that Hartwell was in danger and that harm would come to her—that big mouth on such a small person.
“I just want you to be careful,” said Amy.
Mike White, even though he was Hartwell’s roommate at the time, never knew a thing about her arrest. Neither did Anita Morales. Not many did. Regina knew what she wanted to talk about and what she didn’t want to talk about.
On many occasions White tried to get her to talk about her mother. Regina flat refused.
She did tell him, though, that she had received $6.5 million for her mother’s death and that her father had received three times as much. He knew from her reluctance to explain to people how she got rich quick, the way she referred to her cash as “blood money,” the way she called herself “rich, white trailer trash from Pasadena,” that Regina’s mother’s death still pained her horribly.
She didn’t hesitate, though, to talk to Mike White about her sex life.
Anita Morales’s girlfriend Rosie Rulle roomed with Hartwell, White, and Lyons at a time when Rosie and Anita fought often; Anita and Rosie were in the middle of a breakup. Regina Hartwell had no qualms about calling the police to settle those arguments, and she had no qualms about sleeping with Rulle.
Rulle believed Anita was cheating on her with a girl with whom Regina was obsessed. Rulle told Regina, and Regina believed her.
“How could you do this to me?” Hartwell yelled at Morales.
“But I didn’t. I’m not. Regina it’s not true. Rosie’s lying.”
But Hartwell refused to buy Morales’s constant protestations. She threatened Anita with a baseball bat.
“Regina, I swear. I wouldn’t do that to you.”
Regina backed off. Instead, she took Rosie to a nightclub, bought cocaine, and fed it to Rosie. They drank, snorted, got stoned out of their minds, and had sex together.
The next day, Rulle was bruised up. Hartwell was scratched up, fingernails dug into her back. White didn’t want to know anymore. Morales had no choice.
“I slept with Rosie,” Regina told Anita, her voice cold and hard, her eyes hot with anger.
The blow to Anita was as strong as a baseball bat. Rosie Rulle and Anita broke up for good.
Regina was finished with Rulle. She apologized to Anita.
Regina Hartwell was drugged and didn’t know what she was doing. She wouldn’t have done that if she hadn’t been coked up, Anita rationalized. Her rationalizations flowed like her protestations had earlier. Although Morales forgave Hartwell, she never forgot the betrayal.
Regina knew she never forgot, even though Anita had forgiven her. It bonded them even tighter.
Regina, however, still didn’t feel bonded to her father and still hadn’t forgiven his betrayal to her and her mother, the betrayal of marrying another woman. Regina still didn’t feel like she belonged with Mark Hartwell’s current family, so she continued creating her own family in Austin, Texas. She and Ynema Mangum spent Thanksgiving and Christmas together.
Christmas was just the two of them at Regina’s house. It was a Christmas that Mangum would always remember. Unlike Hartwell, she was used to huge family gatherings, so that Christmas seemed special and sweet with just the two of them placing presents under the tree for each other. They gave each other clothes and laughed when they found that one of their presents to each other was the same—huge, Odie slippers.
But not all times were so joyous. Ynema Mangum got a new girlfriend named Kathy Steng, who didn’t like Regina. Regina didn’t like Steng either, however she wasn’t going to let that get her down. Instead, Hartwell fed off of Steng’s disdain for her and tried to aggravate her. “Hey, let’s do girls’ night out. Sorry, Kathy. Just girls. Just us girls.”
Kathy jumped at the bait. She and Regina fought, with Ynema caught in the middle. “I don’t want to choose. Hey, it’s not fair. I don’t want to choose between my best friend and my girlfriend,” Ynema said.
Mangum decided she wanted to break it off with Steng, but each time she tried, Steng threatened her—she threatened to commit suicide and she threatened to “out” Ynema at work.
Then Mangum began to have an affair, hoping that that would cause Kathy to let her go. Kathy just complained to Regina about Ynema’s cheating ways. She struck Regina in that vulnerable spot, that place in her heart that so desperately wanted and needed to be wanted and needed. Kathy Steng needed her.
Kathy and Regina began to bond, and Regina let Ynema know that she didn’t think Ynema was doing the right thing by Kathy.
With that, Ynema Mangum began to feel that Regina Hartwell wasn’t on her side anymore, and they started sliding their separate ways.
Besides, Hartwell was doing a lot of Ecstasy. She talked about it a lot and didn’t feel X was really a drug. “Shit, X was legal for a while,” she said. “Come on, try it, Y. It’s not gonna hurt.”
“No.” Ynema Mangum was adamant. She was tiring of the drinking and partying. “No, Regina. No.”
“You’re not a very good party girl.”
Mangum had spent a lot of years wasting her time because she wasn’t in control of her life. She made a conscious decision to get rid of excess baggage in her life. That baggage included friends who she felt made choices that weren’t healthy for her.
Ynema and Kathy parted ways. Regina and Kathy parted ways. And Regina and Ynema began to get together only on rare occasions.
BOOK: Wasted
7.96Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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