It was a balmy September night in 2007, and Amy Chesler called the house on her way home from work at an after-school program for middle-schoolers. The recent college grad lived with her mother, Hadas Winnick, and her troubled 25-year-old brother, Jesse, in Calabasas, the wealthy LA suburb where she had grown up, and found it odd when no one answered the landline at home. After all, Hadas was a math teacher who rarely went out on school nights and Jesse had earlier seemed anxious for 22-year-old Chesler to get home so they could watch the TV show “Quantum Leap.”
So she rang Jesse’s cellphone.
“Is everything OK?” she asked when he answered.
“Don’t come home,” he said tersely.
Confused, Chesler tried the house phone again. And again and again. She dialed her brother twice more in a panic.
“Mom’s not answering,” she said when he finally picked up. “Where is she?”
Jesse’s response made her heart stop: “I