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The Secrets of Singapore Valley

p. 2 of 10



          On the afternoon of November 15, 2018, in the Rose Gardens neighborhood of Singapore Valley—the planned Eastern California city known for its Angeleno-esque sprawl and tech-industry adjacency—an event occurred that drew no scrutiny.  It seemed only to involve a minor traffic violation in a low-risk area, and since no driving citation was issued, no formal record of the incident exists.  I cannot state with certainty that this event happened at all, since my recounting of it relies entirely on the word of confessed serial killer and master manipulator, Robert (Bob) John Grisby.

          Grisby is currently facing hundreds of distinct charges, including twenty-three counts of murder,  and he is the sole witness to many of the scenes I will relate in this article.

          According to Bob Grisby, things happened like this.

          At around 2:20 pm on that Saturday,  Grisby was driving back to his Rose Gardens home in his forest-green 2013 Jeep Cherokee,  in the trunk of which – mouth, wrists and ankles bound in duct tape – was a young lady named Christina, whom Grisby had known for years.

          Grisby noticed a text from his wife as he was coming to a red, and – distracted by responding – he ran the light with only a perfunctory glance for traffic.

          Promptly,  blue and red lights flashed in his rearview,  and a siren went off.

          Cornered,  Grisby pulled to the curb and lowered his window.  In the Jeep’s unenclosed trunk, Christina was mmphing and thrashing.

          The police car pulled over behind Grisby.  But as the officer was getting out, a black Tesla with tinted windows turned the nearest corner and cruised to a stop, alongside the cop.  Grisby watched as the new car’s window went down and its driver spoke some words to the officer. The two men chatted and laughed, and after a minute, the cop shrugged, walked back to his car, and got in.  He whirred the siren, pulled from the curb, and drove off.

          The Tesla pulled up to Grisby's Jeep, and its driver, leaving the engine running, got out and walked around to speak with Grisby, who already had his window down. This newcomer was wearing Aviator sunglasses, a black turtleneck, and jeans.

          He settled his elbows on the unsunken upper inches of Grisby’s window, and brought his face to hover over his hands.  He produced a business card and Grisby felt his stare from behind the Aviators’ lenses.

          “Here,” the man said, like they knew each other already,  and urged his card at Bob with a pumping of his knuckles.  Bob reached for it and immediately felt subordinated. The name Pierce Rhenshorn was embossed on the card’s pulpy surface.

          Rhenshorn cracked his head at the Jeep’s trunk, indicating Christina. “Get your affairs in order,”  he hissed,  “and then come see me.”

          And that was how Bob Grisby learned that someone knew about him.

          Eleven days later, Christina’s body was found in a rug,  in an alley.

          And ten months months after that,  Pierce Rhenshorn was executed by a shot to the head as he stepped from his Tesla into the air of his driveway. Bob Grisby first became an object of police suspicion in relation to Rhenshorn’s death, but that murder is not one of the twenty-three with which he is now charged.


          In 2002, at the far end of the Salton Sea—where there had only been sand and crusty-winged birds—they built a magnificent new suburb. Singapore Valley materialized like a tangible mirage; it rose from the ground like something submerged.  It had rose-marble malls, whose corridors, lined with Louis Vuitton and Burberry outlets, gave onto open-air courtyards and splashing fountains.  It had elementary schools perched at crossroads,  tenderly landscaped while children were in class, and ranked in U.S. News and World Report.  It had transplanted old-growth oaks, and gardens renowned for the glow of their roses,  and park trails weaving through prosperous neighborhoods of single-story ranch-style houses.

          But it was a stolen paradise—or so the story goes.  For the land had been inhabited before it was developed—or so, at least, many claim.

          Lights of unknown origin gleam and streak the skies of Singapore Valley so insistently that no one can deny a certain localized phenomenon is both real and unexplained.  Some theories assert gaseous expulsions of chemical deposits from the earth, diffused across black-canvas skies at speeds that impress images of airborne travel upon your retinae. Others say it can only be plasma.  Still, many—both residents of the SingVal, and UFOlogists globally—hold that machines controlled by non-human, intelligent beings, are near-constant presences in the skies of Singapore Valley.

          Singapore Valley is otherwise a wealthy enclave, known for its simultaneous remoteness from and continuity with the rest of the state’s mega-sprawl.  Originally intended as a getaway for elites, the development has, over decades, retained that old flavor of exclusivity,  while its status as a destination for players in the state’s major industries has twined it into California’s cultural DNA.  But this planned city has, all the while, also been growing in ways both unforeseen and inevitable: incorporating into itself economically disadvantageous elements, and sprouting neighborhoods—blighted and affluent—like appendages. 

          And now there are people who grew up here and are raising their kids here.  Residents of the SingVal mostly dismiss questions about UFOs with this-again? expressions and smiling head shakes.  But sometimes they will admit that, now and then, at night, unknown lights float outside their windows,  too far back to resolve into defined pictures,  but clearly capable of instantly climbing, falling, hovering, and whooshing off at diagonals.  And they may also admit that, during these visitations, they have the sense of being observed.

          This is just how things are in Singapore Valley.  It does not change the desirability of living, or having a second home, here. The suburbs are a non-aggression pact,  and in this one,  the residential streets are peaceful and broad,  and the houses sit behind lawns with shade trees and rose gardens and slip-and-slides set out for the kids,  and trails trace creeks that have been here perennially but that at boundaries of parks now vanish into tunnels carrying their further progress underground.  And beyond the park trails,  before you get downtown (but not so near to the residential blocks as to deface them),  there are convenience stores and big-box stores and strip malls.

          And you have the living space you need, and your zip code is envied, and you send your kids to the best public schools in the country.

          Playgrounds sparkle in the morning dew;  baseball-capped men, up early walking their dogs, nod as they pass each other on the sidewalk;  and the weather is fine.

          The city grows;  elements continue to arrive uninvited.  Slums emerge and populate.  Buildings get tagged,  and alleys turn up that you’ve never seen before,  and in-between spaces develop to have their own street names and traffic circles.  Cultures ferment.  Children walk home from schools built five years before,  past cross guards brought here to defend them,  and know this place as their world of origin.

          For years,  the community had had in its midst a serial killer whose acts were savage and degrading and unspeakable.  He was unseen and everywhere:  in the erratic driving of a bereft parent;  in the huddles of teenagers leaving the high school;  in the way someone stood stiffly up against their car while waiting at the pump;  in the feeling you had when you walked into a store.  And people always said that this psychopath was going to turn out to be a guy who mowed his lawn on Sundays and brought his coworkers coffee the way they liked it.

          And indeed,  he turned out to be Bob.

          In 2015, my daughter Arielle was abducted and murdered by the serial killer Yuri Tanov. Tanov was apprehended two years later,  and I have previously written in this magazine about my experience attending his trial, and have described, in that piece, my daughter’s ordeal, as much as I ever care to.

          However, the occasion of writing this article compels me to re-visit that story—although not so much Arielle’s story, or Tanov’s, or the story of Tanov’s trial and my fleeting interactions with that man in that courtroom, as my own story:  the one I lived after Tanov was convicted and sentenced.

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The Secrets of Singapore Valley

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