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"At the time, $1,000 seemed like a dream," Beach later wrote in a letter to her mother. "I didn't even know enough about dealing drugs to realize I should have gotten a lot more than that. It sounded like a lot to me. I would only have to do it a few times and maybe by then mom would be back in the real world, and being caught up on things, we could get our lives back together."
Beach and Grant did three or four deals.
Then, sometime in late spring, while her children were visiting their grandparents, Beach went to hang out at a friend's house in Kansas City, Kansas. There, she met Jose Arevalo. He started flirting with her right away, and she was hooked.
"I don't know why, but I'd be with any guy who paid the smallest bit of attention to me," Beach now says. Arevalo was attentive -- he acted smitten right away, saying he wanted to be with Beach all the time. Soon he, too, grew possessive; he asked to carry her pager so he could check for messages from other guys. Beach was flattered. She told Arevalo all about her life and even confided in him about her money problems and the drug deals with Grant.
One day in June, though, Arevalo got involved in the business, and everything went wrong.
Land Grant was a drug dealer in Topeka. With a friendly smile, a gold chain, cornrows and enormous biceps, he drew attention from women when he flashed his money at the Cabaret USA strip club, just off Interstate 70, west of Topeka. That's where he met Margaret Thomas, a delicate, 20-year-old blonde who worked at the club. Perhaps because of her meth habit, she looked a little older.
Sometimes Grant would call her for companionship, and she'd go somewhere with him in exchange for drugs. Occasionally she bought from him. She later told police that she hadn't known about the 37-year-old Grant's criminal history in Shawnee County, a record that dated back to his 20s.
In 1985, prosecutors charged Grant with battery on a law-enforcement officer, and he was sentenced to probation. In 1986, he was arrested for driving while intoxicated, earning more probation. In 1987, police caught him with cocaine and the district attorney charged him with possession, but a judge gave him a suspended sentence that included three years' probation, alcohol counseling and full employment training.
But he was arrested again in 1991 and charged with possession of narcotics. He was sentenced to 15 months in prison at the Lansing Correctional Facility in Lansing.
That's where Grant had become friends with Beach's cousin, himself a frequent inmate.
One Friday morning, June 23, 2000, Grant called Beach to tell her he'd be coming through Kansas City that night and would want to make a buy.
Beach agreed to make the deal. But this time, she couldn't reach her brother's old contacts. Frustrated, she was about to call Grant and cancel the deal when Arevalo stopped her. "I can get some," she remembers her boyfriend telling her. Arevalo knew a guy in Kansas City, Kansas. All they had to do was go pick him up.