Bail was set at $1 million yesterday for Oscar Edward Kendall, 33, who police say has spent at least a decade posing as fashion photographer Richard Avedon and living off the dreams and money of countless women he fooled.
"This gentleman has been identified . . . from Hawaii to New York, from Miami to North Dakota, to Vancouver, British Columbia, as being the promoter of an incredible scheme of deception, larceny and sexual assaults against women," Assistant U.S. Attorney Mark Tuohey 111 said at Kendall's bond hearing in D.C. Superior Court.
Tuohey asked for $500,000 bond but Judge William S. Thompson increased the amount of $1 million, explaining that he did so because of the nature of the charges and th potential penalties.
Washington police Det. Thomas Kelly, who has tracked kendall for the past four year, said the suspect is known to have dealt with 33 women in 25 cities.
Kendall, arrested Thursday night while he barhopped near 19th and M Streets NW, was charged by city police with one count of rape in connection with an incident in Washington in August, 1974. The maximum penalty for rape is life imprisonment.
But early last evening seven more charges, including rape, grand larceny and false pretenses had been filed against Kendall in other jurisdictions.
"He's a smooth-talker who has been roaming the country living off women, and living very well," Kelly said at a press conference. Tuohey contended in court that Kendall had solicited or conned women out of $6,700 in the last month alone.
"He would stop a woman, talk with her a monute, and she invite her for a drink and if she went, he knew he was on his way," Kelly said. Kendall preferred tall, striking women, Kelly said, and looked for them at airports, motels, shopping malls and single bars.
Kendall used approaches to suit the situation, Kelly said, but the key was the name. "He used John Avedon, Richard Avedon, Richard Avedon's son and Richard Avedon Dawson," Kelly said. Richard Avedon is noted fashion photographer living in New York City.
Kendall is a tall, thin, baldish man who appears older than his age. He is divorced, has a daughter, and a mother living in Arizona, Kelly said. His last known address is in Queen Creek, Ariz.
He has been convicted of forgery, assault, transporting stolen property, and parole violations, and has served a total of about nine years in prison, police sources said. Last May he was released from a California prison after serving 2 1/2 years for grand theft, stemming from an incident in which he swindled a woman out of $600 in Monterey, Calif.
Yesterday, Kendall wore a blue-gray sport coat, black checked pants and blue shirt open at the collar at his bond hearing, and often seemed bemused by the proceedings. The court appointed Leroy Nesbitt, president of Superior Court Trial Lawyer's Association, to represent him.
Kendall was arrested on 19th Street NW Thursday night, unaware that long stories about the Avedon imposter, complete with pictures, had been splashed across that day's editions of The Post and The Star.
When told by policemen afterward that he had been featured in the day's newspapers, Kendall said, "I feel kinda dumb," police said.
He had arrived in Washington about 5 p.m. Thursday and had looked for a newspaper but couldn't find any, police said. It was his first known visit to the city in three years.
While Det. Kelly tried to deal with an avalanche of tips about the man's whereabouts, Kendall quietly checked his baggage in a bus terminal and headed for the singles bars.
About 5:30 p.m. Dee Cross, the day bartender at the Pierce Street Annex, 1210 19th Street NW, took orders from a baldish man in a rumpled gray suit and tie and a chestnut-haired woman in a tight green dress who looked like a fashion model.
"The first thing he said to me which gives me the creeps now, is 'First let's see a smile," Cross said yesterday.
The man ordered a Jack Deniels straight for himself and a Black Russian for the woman, Cross said. "He said, 'Be sure to make it with Kahlua,' and I told him we always make it with Kahlua. He said some place he had been at make it with Tia Maria."
Cross said she figured the stranger was from out of town because she knows of no place in Washington that makes a Black Russian with Tia Maria. She had not read the day's papers and paid no special attention to the couple, except to note that the woman in the tight green dress seemed to be getting more and more friendly with the man in the rumpled gray suit.
About 7 p.m. Al Chadsey, one of the owners of the club, started spinning records, and Kendall started making requests.
He wanted "The Masquerade" by George Benson, "Feelings" by Barbara Streisand, and cuts from Stevie Wonder's hit album, "Songs in the Key of Life," Chadsey said yesterday.
"He kept shoving dollar bills in my pocket and I'd put on another Stevie Wonder record and he'd give me the high-sign and the woman would blow me a kiss," Chadsey said.
The woman, he said, "seemed overwhelmed by his personality," and sat with her arm clenched around his arm. Chadsey hadn't read the day's paper either. But the night bartender, Chip Fredericks, had.
"I knew it was him right away," Frederick said yesterday. "I wanted to grab him, punch him, hold him and call the police, but I had to figure out what to do."
For an hour and a half Fredericks watched the man and tried not to stare. "He had my undivided attention. Every now and then they would get up and dance. He looked like one of those older guys who was trying to learn the new dances," he said.
While he bent over to the serve them drinks, Fredericks said he heard Kendall talking about models and photography. When it looked like the man was about to leave, Fredericks said, he stuck out his hand and introduced himself to the stranger. "When he said his name was Richard Avedon I almost fainted," Fredericks said.
Fredericks grabbed his boss, Jerry Hardman, a 41-year-old ex-Marine and frantically tried to convince him that the police were very interested in the man drinking Jack Daniels.
Thinking the couple had left, they ran out onto 19th Street, searching the sidewalks and alleys, and returned to find them just leaving.
While Fredericks called police, Hardman and a friend set out to follow the couple. They ran into a beat policeman. Arthur C. Cheek and told him they were after the imposter.
"He looked at us in disbelief," Hardman said.
After a few moments convincing Cheek arrested the man as he and the woman in green were coming out of a nearby saloon, Flaps.
"He (Kendall) was very nonchalant and didn't seem to be upset at all, even when he was frisked," Hardman said.
Cheek said he asked Kendall for identification and the man said he had none. The officer drew the woman aside and she said he had identified himself to her as Richard Avedon. Inside his wallet, police found a Playboy Club ID to Richard Dawson, one of the alleged impostor's aliases.
Kelly spent three hours interviewing the man and believes he is the one he has sought for so long. Kelly kept a file on the man based on complaints from Avedon and communications with other law enforcement agencies. He had the man's picture, positive identification from 32 complainants, but had only learned his name hours earlier when a policeman from Monterrey, Calif., recognized Kendall's picture in Newsweek and called Kelly. Based on that information Kelly got a warrant for Kendall at the same time the man was arriving in Washington.
The woman with Kendall when he was arrested was visiting Washington from Chicago, Kelly said. Kendall ha dnot done anything to her, and was just building his pitch, Kelly said. The woman went back to Chicago yesterday, he said.
The charge placed against Kendall here dates back to an evening three years ago when he allegedly bought drinks for another out-of-town woman, this one from Ohio. He told her she was lovely and he would like to photograph her, and they went bar-hopping. He anted to use heras a model and set her up with an apartment in New York, police said he told her. She was enthralled, until it came time to say goodnight at her hotel and he refused to leave. Forcing his way into her room, he raped her repeatedly, then fell asleep, according to police. When the woman slipped away and notified hotel authorities, they found the room empty.