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Trying a killer took patience
Trying a killer took patience

When the phone rang, the beating in the Lawndale motel stopped. Howard Bloomgarden, a 26-year-old college grad and self-styled mobster, was calling from Miami. He was checking on a cross-country manhunt that was reaching its climax on this night in 1994 as Halloween neared. His college buddy and former partner, Peter Kovach, was bound and splayed on the bed. Kovach had dropped from sight after botching a marijuana shipment. Bloomgarden's heavies had tracked him to a cellphone store in Torrance he'd bought a stake in. Guns drawn, they'd abducted Kovach, 26, and a co-worker who was helping close up the shop. They'd driven their captives to the motel. The...