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Kissels Of Death


Perhaps it was a way to taunt Jane. Hayley felt underappreciated. She was furious at Andrew and Bill, and now, it seemed, at Jane as well. All her sacrifices, her devoted mothering, and now she was being cast as part of the problem. Suddenly she declared, “I am not going to let the Kissels take anything more from me. I have given enough.” She promised to fight to keep the kids.

And yet Hayley wasn’t always as hard-hearted as she seemed in her angriest moments. She even softened toward her soon-to-be-ex-husband. At the end of July, Andrew was arrested at their Vermont vacation home, charged with fraud in three states. (The Manhattan district attorney, alerted to the fraud at East 74th Street, would soon indict him as well.) Whatever Hayley thought of Andrew, she drove to Vermont for his bail hearing. “She had his jail keys in her hand,” says Russell, Andrew’s lawyer. “All she had to do was say he couldn’t live at home.” Yes, he deserved what he was getting, Hayley believed. And, yes, he was a bully, and she was divorcing him. “Andrew had nobody else,” Hayley told a friend. And there were the kids. “Letting him have access to his children was all he was going to have for a long time and all they were going to have for a long time.” She agreed to let Andrew return to Greenwich. Hayley was headed back to work. Andrew could help babysit.

Even after he discovered (with the help of a private detective) that Nancy was having an affair with a TV repairman, Rob seemed willing to reconcile. He even considered bringing her lover to Hong Kong.

For Andrew, his arrest was crushing; unlike his previous brush with fraud, there was nowhere to run. He was confined to the house by an electronic ankle monitor. Bill heard of Andrew’s arrest at Rob’s murder trial. He didn’t seem entirely surprised. “They were two different souls, Robert and Andrew,” he says.

Whatever the state of Andrew’s soul, at that point, the rest of him was, as his lawyer put it, “in extremis. It was mental, physical, financial. He really needed help.” He needed to get into a rehab program, and he needed funds. Turning to Bill was out of the question. “I don’t have anything to do with my father,” Andrew told his lawyer, “and I don’t want to.”

Andrew appealed to Jane, his once-devoted sister. But Jane’s priorities had shifted. She now believed the situation with Rob’s children required emergency action. What must Andrew’s household be like! Hayley was running off to court to seize Andrew’s assets. Andrew, in turn, was demanding that Hayley pay him alimony. Then were they sitting down to a family dinner? And still Andrew and Hayley wouldn’t give up Rob’s kids. Jane felt she had to do something. “She was their guardian angel,” her lawyer Randy Mastro says. Jane’s funds were allocated elsewhere, was the message Andrew received.

In September, Jane moved aggressively in a New York court and also publicly. She spoke to a New York Times reporter, quoting from a couple of her conversations with Hayley.

Andrew was furious. Somehow, appearances still mattered to him. Unusually, he seemed protective of Hayley. Andrew called his sister the day after the Times story. “Jane, it’s your ex-brother,” said Andrew, according to a transcript of a phone message obtained by New York Magazine. “You’ve managed to do what Dad has tried to do for 75 years: tear this family apart. You’ve done that. And we’re going to bury you, Jane.”

Apparently, Andrew and Hayley were united on this point. Hayley left Jane a message the same day: “The betrayal I have gotten from you is of a magnitude that I never thought possible. But obviously I underestimated you.”

To Hayley, Bill and Jane seemed like “evil twins”—a phrase that Andrew used. She left a blistering message on Bill’s voice mail, according to a transcript of the call. “You’re an evil man, and I would say that you’ll get what you deserve,” said Hayley as if putting a curse on Bill. Then she realized there was no need. “Well, you already got what you deserve,” she said.

At the custody hearings, everyone was lawyered up—Jane, Ira, Hayley. The estate had a lawyer, the kids had a lawyer. The judge even assigned counsel to represent Nancy, despite the fact that on September 1, she’d been convicted of Rob’s murder. From prison, Nancy handwrote a five-page plea. The battle against the Kissels, carried on via the children, seemed to count for everything. Nancy had never liked Hayley, but now she wrote, “I have been overwhelmed by Hayley’s unconditional love, support and her exceptional skills as a devoted mother.” Jane, she suggested, was after the money from the estate.

It was an ugly and useless public airing, as Michael Collesano, the clearheaded lawyer for the children, says. From the start, it was a foregone conclusion that the kids would go to Jane, says Collesano. Ira opposed it. He was sure that Hayley had been a terrific mother, and he wasn’t sure of Jane. “Just because Andrew’s going to jail, why are you presupposing that they’re in a negative environment?” he asked. “Even when Andrew was on a bracelet, he was interacting with the kids. It wasn’t like it was a household in turmoil.”


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