Multimillionaire Steven Beard, Jr. fell hard for Celeste Martinez, a shapely, blonde waitress who served him his nightly cocktail at the local country club…as well as sexual favors. In 1995, the 70-year-old widow Beard married the 32-year-old mother of twin teenagers and gave her homes, cars, and more jewelry and designer clothes than she could ever wear. But it wasn’t enough for Celeste. Claiming she was depressed, she checked into a psychiatric facility, where she met fellow patient Tracey Tarlton, a prominent bookstore manager. Celeste seduced Tracey, convincing her that the only way they could be together would be to kill Steve.In the wee hours of an October morning, Steve awoke to a shotgun blast to his gut. Tracey was arrested but refused to implicate Celeste…until she learned the truth about her lover. In a sordid trial sensationalized even more by the antics of famed Texas defense attorney Dick DeGeurin, the depths of Celeste’s lies were revealed in a tale of lust, betrayal, and regret. THE FORTUNE HUNTER-Suzy Spencer
This is an unofficial transcript meant for reference. Accuracy is not guaranteed.
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You are now listening to true murder, the most shocking killers and true crime history and the authors that have written about them: DC, Bundy, Dahmer, the night Stalker Dck every week, another fascinating author talking about the most shocking and infamous killer, true crime, history through murder, with your host journalist and author Dan. This is Nancy good evening multimillionaire, Stephen Beard Junior fell hard for Celeste Martini Martinez, a shapely blonde waitress who served in his nightly cocktail at the local country club,
as well as sexual favors in nineteen. Ninety five to seven year old little beard married to the thirty two year old mother of twin teenagers and gave her homes, cars and more jewelry and designer clothes, and she could ever where, but it wasn't enough for Celeste claiming she was depressed. She checked into a psychiatric facility where she met fellow patient Tracy Tarleton, a prominent book store manager, so, let's seduce Tracy convincing her that the only way they could be together would be to kill Steve claiming in the wee hours of an October morning, Steve awoke to a shotgun blast to his gut. Tracy was arrested, refused to implicate Celeste until she learned the truth about her lover in assorted, trial sensationalized
even more by the antics of fame, Texas, defense attorney dick to gear in the depths of Celeste's. Lies were revealed in a tale of lust betrayal and regret the book that we're profiling this evening is the fortune hunter with my special guest journalist and author Susie Spencer welcome. To the program and thank you for agreeing to this interview, Susie Spencer, thank you for having me again well. Thank you very much It hasn't been that long, but it's was my great pleasure to have you on just a while ago, and
Here we are again with another wild tale. So let's talk a little bit about, because there's so much information jam, packed in over four hundred pages in this book, an very deservedly too, there's no padding whatsoever just crazy stuff, let's start a little bit with Celeste with their original maiden name an because he goes through a succession of marriages, so just to start to describe Celeste and her character. Let's just talk about her. First marriages which started at that point in her life and talk about the characteristics that that MAR her relationships and characterized in her relationships right from the very beginning. Well, let's a Celeste has always had a rocky start in life. She was adopted
buy a mother and father who could not have kids but adopted for overall, all they were not showing saving most emotionally stable people in the world. People would tell me that her father I was an alcoholic and drug addict. Who then became very religious changed his name of Jedediah Anwa. To become a university professor. Where is he had been a Volkswagen car mechanic her mother was how let's face it. She was crazy I mean seriously crazy, She was put in Psych Ward several times at one point. She tried to believe that a I know that she was beating up a friend and
save the friends and family kicked her out and then Celeste went stripped off her clothes and went banging on. There are not less less mother went, you know, stripped off her clothes and went banging on doors, and so this was kind of the life where Celeste grew up. She claims that her father molested her. Forum, starting at age, four up until about twelve she's in claims that her eldest adopted brother, cold Johnson molested her. She claims that her first husband, Craig Bratcher who she married at seventeen when she was pregnant, that he raped her and abused. Her then she had her twins way, who are very predominant in the book then, she and credit divorced. Then, let's see I start getting her. Marriage is mixed up. She marry a military guy. After that, in,
somewhere in there between the military guy and the divorce. From Craig. She says that Craig raped her. Again and that she gave that child up for adoption, which she did truly did give a child up for adoption. Then, when she was with this Harold Wolf who was the, I believe the number two husband who was in the military? There are claims that she went into another psychiatric facility or a psychiatric facility. There's also hits a her mother had her like incarcerate and when she was in high school at this point The last was getting known for sleep with anyone and everyone who could give her money and get her out of trouble, because when she married Harold Wolf, she was living in Arizona and and she got in deep trouble with the law. Therefore, insurance fraud, steel
from people and developed a little record there. She claims that she dated an attorney who bought her new breast. Then she, split with him when she found out he was going to, having an affair with someone else and she picked up in a bar Jimmy Martinez who, I believe was her third husband. And one day she was working in a restaurant, the lid on an ice machine fell on her breast and then they sued the ice make and the restaurant, where she worked, because she is supposed Ridley had entered her implants. This is sort of important because slow kind of thing about her breath and they think come up a lot in the story
so, even though her her implants were fine. She had one of 'em removed so that then, apparently she had one saline and one gel implant, yeah, silicone and but then so that the lawsuit was that the cause of this Her husband, Jimmy Martinez, was deprived of her love. Shall we put it politely? They eventually moved to Texas, and she was working in a at the Austin Country Club, as a cocktail, waitress or waitress. At this point. She only had her daughter of her two twin daughters that she'd had earlier. She only had Christina with her. Because her other daughter, Jennifer had stayed with Craig Bratcher,
and she wanted Jennifer Bag supposedly and so alleged Jimmy was mistreating, Christina and Celeste wanted out of there and there have wouldn't be lonely obese, alcoholic seemingly alcoholic multi millionaire whose wife was dying from cancer who frequented the country club every night and who Celeste befriended So she, when his wife died two weeks later, they started dating and that multi, millionaire with Steve Beard at this point so Is Celeste Martinez on her third marriage? She leaves Jimmy Martinez to get together with Steve. And uh Steph gets both of her children back. He
if her when they marry like a year year and a half later, he gives her half a million dollars and immediately gone and then a few years later he gives her enough half million dollars, that's immediately gone bottom line. Is it doesn't matter how much money he gives her? It's never enough. So she wants the money bad, so she
buyers am I going too far. Let's talk a little bit about the daughters as well, because we have the real. You know just a relationship here because we're we're talking about it's the beard and big daddy, and how is it that he that he comes to his fortune? And really we didn't talk about his character that much seasonal bees. Guy he's sixty nine years of age. She is less than half his age at thirty or thirty, two years of age ends and like we were talking about a three hundred pound guy. But we didn't talk about the sort of the gruff he is, but the very very successful entertainment mogul that he ends up being and and a respected guy in this field, so
Let's talk a little bit more about big, daddy and then we'll talk about again, as you mentioned, that he gets the other Jennifer to come into the home and Christine. And then we see this relationship early on this diet, new dynamic and so we'll talk about that. So tell us a little bit about big daddy, how we came to the money that he does have and and talk we'll talk about the family, dynamic, dead insult. When I think about Steve or big daddy, I think about his daughter, Becky Beard who I see a lot of time with and got to know and Becky always told me that Steve would have really liked me, and I, I think of Becky is a reflection of Steve, but because she would a hard worker and Steve was a hard worker. He was a self made multi millionaire who traveled all all over the country and the radio business in the advertising business war.
Working like a dog Raising three kids had a diverse, did why this was all primarily in Dallas Texas and he just moved up the ranks and radio and advertising tell that he was like the number two guy. I think it Blair Advertising and then he He decided that he wanted to own a tv station and he moved to Austin and like say. He was already well respected in the world of radio in advertising and opened up an independent station. That eventually became a fox affiliate, but Fox was going to yank the affiliation and they wanted to be a CBS affiliate now again Steve Groff Big guy hard talking, he me it could be a tad on the races side. He could be a tad on the the
I don't know harsh. He was a hard talking guy when he wanted something he went after it and he did not. You know temper his language for anyone, but yet people love reading books. As he worked so hard and he was so loyal to the people that you know that were in his group and he he was funny yeah, he was lively. He wanted to live life to the ultimate and so You know he would he was kind of lost and devastated when the t the station, but, like I said it was, they were trying become a CBS affiliate, since they were losing their fox affiliation in the CBS. Folks said we're not going to do this too, You have to sell at your station to this other company other, cuz, you're you're, just out on your own. So he reluctantly sold the station and
got millions and millions of dollars on this and that's where he became the Multi millionaire guy, you know, who had time on his hands and started delving into real estate the bottom line. Is the people who knew him cherished him. Because he was so loyal and such a hard worker- and I believe-
from what I understand very honest in his business dealings. Now this guy larger than life of what we say, we talked about introducing the dynamic that went on and also which is very important- that of these young girls have boyfriends, Christopher Deuce and Justin Graham. So, let's first talk about even before this, because we we skip over the the marriage and some of the just the bizarre stuff that goes on and, more importantly, that the difference for Becky, because you say well, this is just a few weeks later after Stephen's wife dies, but also back his mother. So yeah you talk about the surprise,
eyes that Becky has, in terms of the GNU housekeepers, to tell us that little story which is very demonstrative. Oh gosh yeah, it's the poor Becky she is. She was obviously the the closest of the children we hit when his eldest son we've lived in Chicago to The youngest son Paul what was in the navy. Becky was in Dallas, so she stayed more in touch with him. And so her mother died and October like say to weeks later, Steve moves in with this woman. You know and or moves in a woman date certain starts moving her in and Becky talking talking, who is her death, but- and she said he says, oh I'm going to hire a housekeeper and she thinks it's going to be some nice elderly person and.
And she never expected to be a thirty something year, old, blonde bombshell and she's. Just totally and in fact all of his friends are stun like what are you doing, and this is these are saying what are you doing and he said: hey man, I don't want anyone to think. I'm gay and I got wolf, no one's going to thank you that and when they Why is she was moving and he would say also well she's great at sex and And he and his wife had been having sex for years? And so then the next thing you know see the Becky calls a few months later in this young girl answers the phone and Becky's like who is this and she goes well. This is Christina and he's like well, who are you and soul? it's on the phone and start screaming at Becky. Why are you you know yelling and questioning my daughter and ever since
the less came into her life. That's what would happen to Becky when she would talk to for dad, it always seem to be like some big shocker coming up. You know it's it's like. He almost had this secret life and she just they didn't come out ever never say this is what's going on. It's just imagine because he knew she wouldn't approve, because she loved, as all kids, do loved her mother. So I say all kids Celeste Beard didn't love her mother. What was exactly was big daddy's health. What was the some of the elements he had other than being overweight is a big man. So, but what were specific? How how sick was this guy or how injured? Well, this guy went when he met last okay. He couldn't necessarily function sexually
he had asthma? He had to have a sleep apnea machine, but in truth he wasn't a man who got sick. He was a you know. He was hidden below so go speak. You know, you know he other than a few little elements that were all under control he was fine until he met Celeste and then the after he is Celeste move in. He started going to the hospital constantly being rushed there star flighted, you know, ambulance rides whatever constantly going to the hospital and what was the dynamic, with with the two daughters and and big daddy and Celeste what was to rise, not to give too much away too early here. But what was that dynamic like for everybody? According to the good will say the girls their their perspective? What was it like this new.
Experience for them well, allegedly Christina when she first met him couldn't standing because he was this old old. You know obese guy, and she didn't want her mother with him. Allegedly, she grew to love him. Jennifer When she met him and she she did not really made him until her father committed suicide and she was just brought home yeah when I say brought home, bought bought to all students and they could they didn't like each other. At first, I got the feeling that Jennifer and Steve Beginner are in developed a relationship. What the truth is about, Christina and
Steve, I'm not sure and court. She betrayed it is that they grew close and that she was the day he was her dad because he wanted to adopt them. A and his attorney and other people advised him not to because this was when they were about fifty They were saying, look they're going to turn. Eighteen soon, don't do that and then he changed his will and he said I'm adopting them and even if the adoption- It's not completed by the time I die there still supposed to be treated as my children and he, totally embrace them and love them and way to be there for even Becky grew to love them and that after Steve died, and she got to know the children. The twins- I don't know how it ended up. But at one point she made the twins. Some
Isn't beneficiaries of her will. You tell the story of Steve Beard being admitted into the hospital and at the same time, as he's, rushed to emergency with something I guess in a life threatening his wife is picking out her own birthday. President. So tell us the story of of the car lot welcome what is said to have happened. Is that Celeste would want to go out and party and do her own thing, so Steve love to drink, cheap vodka and she would switch out his vodka with ever clear, which has a high proof to knock him out and then, on top of that, she would, you know, flip him sleeping pills so that he would then pass out. She could go out and do what she wanted.
One night he passed out and they would find him all over the place in the house. Usually after he had wet his pants or something and they just kept maneuvering around the house. Rating golly it the emergency EMS or anything, even though he was passed out and so the next day at sure they put him to bed again. I think at like five hundred o'clock in the morning when he was found wandering around in the house. She got up and said: let's go buy me a Cadillac for my birthday. So they went and picked out a cadillac. She and the girls came home. Steve was still passed out so after buying the Cadillac and we're talking many many hours since you know had gotten so ill. They call Call D. Ems got him, rushed to the hospital she and the kids stood in front of the cat select kind of hide it so that Steve
I see it through is blurry eyes, as he was hauled out of the house and then he got to the IMR can see room, he was already by then coming out of the stupor and was doing okay and we selected. Now. I can't come pick him. Right now, I've got things to do so. She made him, wait a few hours and then a If she went picked him up in the Cadillac and said, oh by the way you need- send a check to the car dealership, because I haven't paid for this. And she drove the Cadillac for a few weeks and decided she didn't like it after all and gave to our daughters who then proceeded
some so many speeding tickets? That Steve took the Cadillac away from them too, but that was that will whip blood Celeste now included with this behavior the success of behavior and again this very spoiled brat entitled behavior that she's exhibiting she's depressed as well, so tell us about how it is. She becomes to be an institutionalized and where she meets Tracy Carlton. But how does it come that that she is going into a hospital of what? What are the conditions well the there are like numerous explanations of death one is that she and Steve were fine. Lean over money, and this is
the generally accepted one that they present in court, because he would realize how much money she was going through and said. You've gotta stop this and she got upset and you know, threatened to kill herself. So she was in it through two Shanle Ized. Another theory is- and this is the one that Celeste says her fat, her mother and step father had moved to Texas and we- living. I think, and one of the beard, houses and- seeing her mother brought back all the bad memories of Childhood of being molested and being raped and that's what made her suicidal and her to the hospital. So What the reality is or if it was both and there's
also another third reason that I am sorry that is just looked out of my brain, but you know that the general consensus consensus is that they were fighting over money and Celeste whenever she was arguing with over money would always. This was pattern in our life, say: I'm depressed and fake suicide or attempted to died and then go to into a mental health facility. Where then he was turn around and you know be loving and caring and trying to take care of his wife. So she had a history of this. Yes, this is the least of threatening and and yes, some people taking the threat seriously so tell us about the occurrence of when she isn't stewed institutionalized and she meets Tracy.
Carlton tell us about those circumstances, Tracy told her and it was a manager of book people Bookstore in Austin, which is considered the largest most important, independent bookstore in Texas. It's a very high profile to pretty powerful in the world of books. It's where you know if you're a number one New York Times, bestseller or star. Like you know, that's where you go and do your book signings, that's where Jimmy Carter. Does his signings, where Hillary Clinton dancers, signings and because of this Tracy always dealing with with celebrities and was on C span a lot talking about books and authors, and she was also bipolar and an alcoholic and a drug addict and she lost it and was and went to Saint David's pavilion, which is a psychiatric facility. Here in town
and that is also where Celeste was inst, two after her suicide attempt and they became friends as Tell I love it when you're in a place like that, you have no family around, you don't know anyone, so you try to bond with someone an according to Celeste. It was her daughter Christina who thought Ray. The Carlton looked at her and just felt so sorry for this woman who just looked totally, you know spaced out and depressed, and at this point, drugged out on psychiatric meds and encourage her mother to befriend or, and so they
same friends there in the psychiatric facility. Was there any history, because I I know the sensor, but is there any history that you saw that there was any blatant door of our bi sexuality or any history of Celeste with other women? And then tell us? You know we talked about the blonde bombshell that was thirty, two years old with a breast implants, so tell us what was Tracy, Tarleton's appearance just for a visual tracy's about five, seven, a little on the chunky side, she's, a tomboy always has been I for tourists, sort of carrying or a caring or self like a linebacker, a lot of times would dress. Then you know plaid shirts and doc. Martens wore glasses,
had a wonderful smile though, but she She is the type that and I hate to be dis cliche. But if she's walking down the street, you would not be surprised that she was a lesbian, whereas Lester's, usually decked, usually decked out jewelry gold jewelry an updo in fingernails Saint Joe. Close, you know are Chanel or something you know, she's going to have the gold jewelry all over her and and Tracy's just transcend down the. You know normal human being, and that were you hinting about where the weather so lasted ever been bisexual or whatever. Well, I did a just above. That is not so as something that's very evidence. You know from people that would distinction or meet her. So what did you find
and and yeah. What did you find? Well, I I'm a I a I a. There is no way that I believe, less Martinez or Celeste, Johnson or Celeste Beard Bless Bratcher, there's no way yeah. I believe that she that Tracy Charlton was the first person she had ever had lesbian sex with now weather It was too like flirt with someone. You know with the hey I'll kiss to scroll to turn on these other guys or whatever you know, but but she would claim that she had never had lesbian sex and she may even see that to this day, but according to Tracy,
left was flirting with her and sexually attracted to her. From you know the moment they met at Saint David's pavilion. You write in the book that the people that were monitoring them in Saint David'S- they were reports of them in inappropriate behavior an they were ikr the size for that a couple times, so those were in the reports weren't they that may have been more like when they went to Timberlawn an eye may be mistaken on that also, but that they eventually went to another psychiatric facility up in Dallas, where they we're roommates and they go caught in compromising positions several times? And yes, it was, it was written at but Celeste would always you know, deny it that and say so Tracy's after me. I'm happily married! No! No! No! You know! I don't want this, but yet they were, they were me.
Teen in hotel rooms like the while Celeste was still in there and Tracy was outpatient and then, when Tracy got out, I mean, went to less got out and Tracy was still doing outpatient up there. When I sat there Dallas. I mean every time I drive through Waco Texas. I look at the La Quinta Hotel or you know, motel, that's right next to bail, University and I always have to point out that swear. Celestin Tracy would meet. You know on weekends, when they were supposed to be in Dallas Timberlawn or an often or something, and they were hooking there right by Baylor University, which is you know that with my schools, where I went to college? But it's also a southern Baptist Universe so I always get kind of a giggle out of that. Now, with Tracey, Tarlton she's got this high pressure job responsible for a lot of people
and she has a certain character. What was she prone to in terms of? Was there any indication of any violent behavior on her part at any point, in the management of this I want you to have a lot of friends who work there and they would talk about Tracy blowing up. You know that she would she had a hair trigger temper and she would just flip out on people. But I also know that Tracy was incredible at her job, just from my experience as a a writer and author who, you know has done book signings there I Tracy was with one of them. Managers that they've ever had, and so yes she go
Diffi cult, where, where she couldn't necessarily do her job because she was flipping out on people and then what she was Hospitalise, and tried to come back and Celeste was in her life, she would be. You know. Drug now on psychiatric meds so that she was like one of the first times that the book people staff met, Celeste was when they Sheehan and Tracy came in together and some of the but people employees, thoughts, the left with her handler or something because Tracy slurring her words so and and glaze, Dover and they try. You know immediately begin to rush her upstairs to the offices. That she wouldn't scare away customers, but then, she, you know, eventually got functional at her job again until things got
Worse and worse, you know after Steve was shot. Let's talk about just before we talk about the shooting itself. Let's talk about briefly: Justin Grimm in Crystal reduced, just 'cause it's very important that these people are around very often in the home, so tell us which one of the boyfriends I think it's Justin, I'm not correct, is, is more prone to be there all the time or regularly staying over at the house before we talk about. Why that's important so talk about Christopher. Juice and Justin Grimm, well, Jennifer Ann, Christina each had a boyfriend Jennifer at that point was dating Christopher Dosey, who it was a very, very, very wealthy young man, and when I'm saying young man I'm talking we're talking like eighteen nineteen year old, Christopher,
I've been a little bit older where he was maybe twenty twenty one or something. But Christopher was a kid who had everything you could ever dream like. He would talk about five hundred thousand being a small amount of money, and he was around quite a bit and he and Steve he. Got along. They loved each other and respect each other, and then there was Justin Grimm who was Christina's boyfriend tall slim, dark, haired, guy that I basic We consider a nerd. He had big dreams, but I'm not sure he had the brain power to accomplish everything, but he was, and then that's probably an overstatement on my part, but he had sort of a high tech mind. He was considered the code Meister and he that I've got you
code. I know your code that he knew the codes to everybody and a lot of people. Senator to that after Steve died that Justin controlled the kids and Celeste that he was considered himself. The man of the house and he was there often they were basically Christina and Justin were inseparable and and Celeste, kind of comes and goes on. Her notes indicated that she really liked Justin, but now she refers to him and horrible terms and how she couldn't stand him in what a horrible person he is, but she he leaned on him to take care things and he was kind of the responsible person when she through a graduation party for the twins, Jennifer was there partying with her boyfriend and they were getting drunk Justin and Christina, or at the party
because they were running shuttle service, for you know, being the sober drivers for everyone. So He took on a lot of responsibility in the family. So let's talk about the day in question, what everybody was doing and what happens or have When Steve was shot with a shotgun blast to his belly, they were so Steve and Celeste on. October. Second, one thousand nine hundred and ninety nine or thereabouts for suppose. To leave on a long trip for Europe. I think of three week trip to Europe and the night before for a few nights before she wasn't packing and Justin said, plus one or packing do. You need some help and she just wouldn't do it
and she also made sure that that night or October first, which was a Friday night. She and did that Jennifer and Jennifer's boyfriend and their friend, Amy Cozart, all went out to the Lake House and took Steve's dog Megan with them and Megan never left Steve side and Justin Alton spent the night at the Beard House and that night she said just in couldn't, spend the night and Christina had to be home by midnight, That day earlier, in the day, she met with Tracy because they were planning for Tracy to kill, Steve on
early in the wee hours of October. Second, so Tracy came over to the house and they did a walk through with saying this is where I want you to enter. This is what I want you to do and let her through the entire thing. Then later on in the day, Celeste changed it up I said no, we're not going to do it. This way, we're going to do it. Another way, Tracy was very, very nervous about that, so the kids went out now when I say the kids, I'm talking Christina, boyfriend and their friend Amy because and the dog went out to the Lake House at some point time is debatable. But around ten eleven thirty somewhere, like that Celeste went out to the Lake House, eventually got back home,
got to you know, said hi to Christina again. That's debatable. Some store stories say that Christina and Celeste Saulo each other. That night another say no. They didn't until after Steve was shot, but bottom line. Is that Christina and Celeste? were there in Christina's you know the House, Steve was in another wing and about two three in the morning. They were awakened by flashing lights and the police in the house, because Steve had been black in the stomach. He didn't know how he just not that his phrase was my guts jumped out of my stomach and when he called nine one one and the
nine one one operator was again a legitimately saying. What are you talking about? What are you talking about? How could that happen in cuz? I don't know I just woke up and then my guts were out of my stomach and the bottom. Line is that in the All of the night, Tracy Head, put plastic over her car seats and in the floorboard got dressed got her shotgun that had her name etched in it, over to the house backed him quietly. I remember, talking about how the the gravel crunched under her tires and how, when she got out of the door out of the car she just closed the door with a slight click: try not to make any noise. Sneaked in around the house walked in Helder done face. You know at Steve Stomach and she had told the less. If I show
in the stomach he's not going to die and solicit. Yes, so yeah! Oh, she said what about the shotgun shell, because she used a shot gun. It's less a don't worry, you know, pick it up and if you don't I'll pick it up and she blasted Steve out of this in the stomach, couldn't find the shotgun sale and got out of there and is that Celeste didn't go to the room, didn't pick up the shotgun shell, but the police found it and the next day
or I say F say the next day- it was actually a few hours later. He was, you know, picked up for questioning with her shot, gun and taken in and soon arrested. How did the police arrive at that conclusion so quickly, which is that shotgun shells war? How did they get to Tracy Tarleton? That idea so quickly? Well, when they went to the hospital? After you know, Steve was airlifted to the hospital and all the key It's when they're, the the the kids out at the Lake House got a phone call get here. You know Steve's been shot, they all gather supposedly Celeste says don't mention. Tracy troll come to anyone, but the cops are sitting there well, he sitting on the floor, trying to get the kids relaxed and talk to him and
just saying you know: hey come on. Tell me what happened in the end they're like when we don't know who cuz this could have done and he said come on. This is not a stranger kind of thing. You know who did. This is somebody you know who would have done this and one of the boys said that crazy, Tracy Carlton and I like who Ac Charlton and they start filling him in and so eventually they Gohan and what I say she was arrested immediately. It really wasn't, but she was brought in for questioning that day because they went and did some checks on. Tracy saw that she had been arrested previously for drunk driving and everything. So they went over the house and ask if she had a shotgun. She said yes, reluctantly, she gave it to them. They took her and took the shotgun in, and it was traces you know tested for ballistics and it matched the shotgun shell show at the crime
and all along Tracy denied that she had done. That now did the two daughters know about the relationship the Tracy had with their mother and what kind of evidence gave him that kind of idea if they did get that id both of Christina says that she saw her mother. Since left kissing on several occasions, and they would talk about that Celeste would spend the night over there sometimes- and I think there was a part of them, though wanted to deny it, and then there was a part of them that knew it and so yeah they they they I don't think they went around and now seen it, but it was something that was kind of hard to deny because
Tracy, was obviously in love with Celeste and Celeste, obviously encouraged it. One of the things that the book talks about is what they call the fashion victims party, which was a party so Tracy through for her. You know, co worker Is that book people an it was out at the beard. Lake House and left was the one who came up with the idea and the theme for the party and the food, and There were pictures of of Tracy and Celeste who's sitting in each other's lap. There were people talked about how they acted like a couple. They were holding hands. They kissed a couple of talked about why walking in on Tracy and Celeste and they were in a middle of a passionate, kiss and embarrassed the people who walked in on them. So there was, there was just evidence all over the place
even though Celeste constantly denies that they were ever lovers. So let's talk about the shooting itself and his hospital Steve's hospitalization. Let's talk about that incident itself. Well, he was like I say, rushed to the hospital and he had like a five thousand and fifty chance of living. Steve told his friends that the doctors that the reason he lived was because he had he was so fat. There was so much padding that you know it took a while for everything to get through a, and this just shows what a fighter he was that he survived like sick seven surgeries, I believe, a lie, long time in the hospital and he wanted to beer round his friends and talk to him and Celeste would not let anyone, including the police, talk to him Ann.
And he was in the hospital from the sea October November in December and a little bit of January. And then he was finally released to come home and Celeste made sure that his time at home was very brief. He was only there for two or three days before he was back in the hospital and died. That's the real Yes, house sells quick, we. We
I want to talk about. Is the I want to ask this question and I'm sure the audience would would as well was he familiar with Traci Tarleton and the relationship that she had with his wife and did it or did he know of Tracy at all? And then let's talk about you do you met you mentioned it, that's less to stop everybody from communicating with her husband, including the police. So what was the police again their their attempt to be able to question him about Traci Tarleton? Well, what let me go back to the first part of the question first Steve did know about Tracy. He just didn't know that they were lovers. He had invited her to the the how the high school graduation for the king He had think Tracy at points saying thank you for being such a good friend to my wife, but then he also had.
Christians, because trade is less, I think, would showing cards where Tracy with bright. How much she loves a lesson Steve like? What are you a lesbian? And she says Tracy. Is you know it's nothing, an you know supposedly he saw one of the criticisms that get out of the house. Don't ever come back, but other people deny that. But yes, he was he new Tracy was in her life. He knew she was a lesbian? He was concerned, about the relationship. I don't know that he knew how far it was, but yet he also paid the bills where he saw that Celeste was racking the big bill that some of the gay bars in town he he wondered about why Celeste would say she was one place when she was
up. So he kind of and in the other thing to know, is that, while trace I mean Celeste was having an affair with Tracy. She he was, she was is also having an affair with her Ex husband, Jimmy Martinez. Which now that makes me remember the third reason that some people say that she went into the the mental health facility and said story of nineteen. Ninety nine, not only the fight about money, but because Steve supposed I found out about that time about her and her affair, with Jimmy Martinez Rick, who did Celeste would have sex with Jimmy Martin and Traci Tolson on the same day. So, but as far as the police, they went there to question him on the day of the shooting? and when they said you know Tracy Charlton. They said that Steve this clenched.
And he tried to say something, but he had a tube down his throat. But it was obvious some thing was going on. But you know the would always kick come out of the room and then when they tried to come back and talk to Steve again, there was a sign up. That said no there's allowed into talk to Steve Beard, including the police and one of the things that the complaints that the prosecutors had was that the they believe is that the police did not pursue this hard enough that they should have. You know, worked hard, to get Steve in there and and supposedly Steve wanted to talk to the police, but Celeste prevented it now in terms of his behavior at
that time Steve did. He have any idea suspicion about his own wife and the possibility of she may be involved and, as a result, he had a certain type of behavior out or did he think it might be Tracy or what was his behavior and how he tree yeah. Just as a as a result. I mean he. He believes that it was Tracy. Because did you know she was pulled and so quickly in, like a month later, it came out in the newspaper and Steve's friends all immediately, Celeste was involved and they would even call the police. You know and say hey check into her in the police when return their phone calls and still he totally accepted that Tracy was behind it and Celeste
it's. It's like it would come and go that he would sometimes feel like yeah yeah and then go no. No! No! That's not my wife, my wife would never do that, but Becky thought this. The detectives told Becky to try to get their dad to talk about it to record their conversations so everyone seemed to know that Celeste had done it and Steve would convince himself that she hadn't but nobody had absolute proof that she had done it. Because the only relatively proof would come through Tracy called right now, Jc Tarleton is, is rounded up. It takes a little while, but she is arrested and charged. So we will fast forward to about a year later and if I'm not mispronouncing, this gentleman's name of the police. Now, where Rick winds
and we're talking about bill, Menge and so we're talking about those theater right and so we're talking about the investigation right now and the result of having Tracy Charlton in custody awaiting trial and that results will fast forward to a year later and what happens with Tracy Charlton and what happens with the development of this case and Celeste Beard. Well, Tracy was not going to turn on Celeste and she was not going to admit her involvement in this. Her Tracy's father was a pro attorney and Fort worth her brothers. At least one of her brothers was an attorney. If she knew things you know shoot she's, not a dumb person. She I mean she did a stupid thing, but she is not stupid. In fact, she is. Brilliant, and she was not going to turn on Celeste and
Well, one day she opens up the newspaper and Tracy sitting in jail at this point and sees that within six months, actually less than six months are after Steve's, death Celeste had gotten married again to a bartender in Austin's, downtown six street bar district and with that it hit Tracy that she had been used, and so it took months to happen, but she eventually struck a deal with the d A's office that, if she would, you know, give truthful testimony against the last that she would get a lighter sentence now with the police and investigators
using that information to their advantage sort of leveraging that information to be able to, because they had a very good idea that Celeste was involved with that was from their initiative and use that information to finally break a Tracy Charlton. Well, actually it was After Steve, you know he he was shot in October of ninety nine. He died in January of two thousand and the day of the funeral Back beard and her brother went to the cops I to the DA's office and talk to him and said Celeste. Did it? Here's Peru here's proof and bill manages stills, and no. This is not proof constantly bill man to say it. No, this isn't proof. Then- and I believe it was April of two thousand- the twins and their boyfriends came to a bill.
And and said look. We have all this information and they had tons of photographs cards, checks, financial records and everything that implicated Celeste. But bill meant still didn't I feel like he had a case in the meantime. Another huge case had happened were caught, a cop was shot in, so he was focused on that and it drag things out. But after so let Scott married Tracy attorneys, kept coming to bill, manage to the prosecutor and saying we can give if you Celeste, we can give you some less and he kept saying I don't care, I don't care, You know I'm not interested what you know, I'm not going to do a deal and eventually he did do a deal and Tracy took a lie. Detector test which proved that she was telling the truth. She
bill. Manta left the DA's office. A new prosecutor was brought in Allison wet suit, which is good because Tracy did not like manage when she, and still got along really well and they just built a fabulous case against Celeste. And where they not only had Tracy's testimony They had both of the twins testified against their mother. The boyfriends testify, against her their friend, Amy Cozart testified against her. In fact, it was really not a case that Garon put on.
Yeah well. He was a who was Phyllis Beards Defense attorney yeah. We we talked about that because it originally Celeste was given an eight million dollar bail and we get the to say the least. The colorful do gearing comes in and knocks that down the five hundred thousand dollars. But you talk about the antics of figure in and that's a good amp to leave a way of describing his as courtroom behavior and outside the courtroom. Behavior so tell us, little bit about what dick you you're gearing does and his strategy with this. He I'm not sure what his strategy was and that's how we his case was- and I think he We knew that because the only thing, that he had that I could see was the stuff that didn't make it into the courtroom, and that was
back when the in the summer of two thousand, the kids try. The twins try I did too, I guess you would say Susa Celeste and they gave all this testimony because they wanted their freedom from her. They were certified over and and things that they testified to their testimony. Have changed over the years and he was in which would make the children's testimony not is strong, but he could not get that into the courtroom so he just I don't know. Dick got really upset with me about the book and told me. I put things in there that I shouldn't have and I've always guessed that one of the things is that Dick have some tells you know like when you're playing poker and you have tells- I noticed that he has tells, and when he's up so
and scared and stressed his face. Turns Red and it gets really angry and his face- turned red a lot of times, and he could not particularly Christopher do You see Jennifer's boyfriend. I remember his testimony so well because well and also aim because Cozart, he Dick, would try to get them. Shaken up. You know and twist up there testimony and they would not budge. You would have thought that they were the courtroom pros and he was the amateur because it was like they controlled him, instead of vice versa. Find so interesting 'cause. You know he handles Robert Durst too. You know is coming up
eventually sometime. I guess, on trial, for murder out in LA and Robert Durst is the real estate mogul from New York, who has always been suspected of killing his wife. Life in New York and then he did kill a guy in Galveston, Texas and Dick Deguerin, gotten off Scot free So we were all expecting. You know that maybe this would happen an dick was just he he couldn't do it. He could not accomplish anything. Of course it didn't help that he has a client who is probably lying to him constantly and so it was This is one time where I got say, and I hate to say this, but you got to read the book because the water Dick Deguerin and action- and I really wanted to focus because he is such a I call on in the world of law and to see him this, where
two young attorneys from Austin Texas, just whip the pants off of him. You know because he would bring up things in Austin Texas, which is has allegedly a liberal you know image he would. Two things like this horrible, lesbian and everything, and he would forget that there were gay people on the jury. He would talk about insanity and stuff, but he would forget that there were people on the jury free who would you know, had mental health issues. He would harp on the fact that they were smoking pot. Well, we It is very common in Austin, it's like he forgot with his audience and yet Dikta Gerron grew up in Austin it. It was just it's it's like he thought. This is my personal opinion. He thought he
doing a trial in the much more conservative, Houston Texas, rather than in austin- and it's it's it's it's like. He had no concept of the audience he was going to or the strength of Tracy Tarleton Christopher. Does he
Amy, Cozart Alison. What so? What and Gary Cobb the other prosecutor on the case? Who were just absolutely amazing? What do you point out as the again they were young attorneys with against this veteran, but it looks like the veteran just showed up and put in his time as opposed to these other people. Was it the preparation of these because it looked like in the beginning that a lot of this testimony, like you say that this this the daughters had stories that changed and the boyfriends were were very solid in this. But what do you attribute this use? You talk about the brilliant strategies that the the prosecutors had. But what was it? Was it the preparation of those witnesses, the preparation of Allison Wetzel,
Gary Cobb of the witnesses. Dikta gerron will tell you he and his staff work like a dog on this, but, like I say he constantly offended the jurors one of the things that he did, that would make for great tv is at the very end and closing arguments, climbed up on the defense table, put a pillow on his stomach to represent a FAT Steve Beard, an put uh He pulled a sheet over it and talk about how, then you know Tracy shot him in the gut and it was just I'm sure he thought this was a trim. Attic, wonderful recreation, but it was just laughable and offensive yeah, and then
closing arguments I when he was arguing you know the guilty of not the the the punishment phase. He just downright insulted the jurors over over and told him how stupid they were basically for coming to this, and you could just see the jurors getting angrier and angrier and from what I, if I remember correctly when they broke to deliberate, they had to spend a great deal of time coming down. You know getting. Over their anger, it Dick Garren. It's like he just misread everything.
And what was why? Well, I don't know what was the demeanor of Celeste Johnson by this point and we didn't talk about her husband, cool Johnson. Did she had married right after you know? She became a widow and then shortly after, but what was it? What what is his story and and is he supportive of his wife, the tells a little bit of local Johnson? Well, it's called Johnson yeah again, you have to look at She was married to this fat rich old man who was gruff and everything and cold Johnson was a handsome tall. Somewhat slim. You know young guy around forty Or so, and so the the comparison of the looks, but when you know he he was going to weigh a drifter kind of guy that
would around tending bars playing music and laying women. But he you know he. He sees the left, an she's a will wealthy widow an he hooks onto her and He stayed loyal to her through the entire trial and for awhile there. After and now, when I ask people about him, they will, they will just say he kind of disappeared. That's all they'll say you know he's not around anymore. But throughout the trial he was there and every day he was supportive. She would, he would write. Poetry to her song lyrics, he would say I will he got up in court and say I will work two jobs to you know because we're going to fight this and prove that she is innocent. There is nothing that proves that she is guilty and
saying that he will. You know you work. Two jobs at that point: he didn't have any jobs, You know he said he was going to put on his Armani suit to court and friends said: hey, don't do that you? so we're trying to go for a low bell. You can't go in with an Armani suit and I found him to be a nice pleasant guy. But you know he's not going to be a society guy, that's going to be. Respected in the country club, even though he might be in there with Celeste he's not going to be respected, like Steve Beard right now. Obviously the outcome is she's, imprisoned and, of course, was a big feature. Is the interview so don't give everything away but tell us about the conditions under which you were a
two to interview Celeste. Well, we had to fight for interviews in the past the, we we could- and I say we I'm talking about true crime writers in general. We could go into the prisons and do interviews and and they'd say: oh, you can only have an hour, that's what we say officially, but just take as long as you want and when I did my first true crime book wasted, I would put alone in the room with the killer, who was allegedly a hit man for the mexican mafia. We sat literally need to me. I took a tattoo tour of his body and we together, for I think four hours approximately by time. Celeste and Tracy were in prison, and you
regime so to speak, had come in and taken over and they considered true crime, writers, not journalist, and we were not allowed to do interviews. We fought for this. We got where we could do interviews the like I say in the past, needed knee now. Now we were literally timed down to the second and we had some. Body sitting there observing nurse the whole time, and so it and one of the things, though, that worked out good is because- when I'm interviewing Celeste and I always wondered. How could this happen? How could this crime really? How could people have been sucked into our and When I sat across from refer for an hour, I understood she's a blast she's charming she's fun, I had a great time with her. I did
we want to leave because we were laughing and then I got I get it. I get it now. But as we were being ushered out, she's being let out one way, I'm being let out the other, and we haven't finished our interview and I'm shy running her questions and I'm like well. What about? walk through. You know. Why did Tracy do this or something you know and and and the last at this point, because she's being rushed out, she doesn't really realize. I think what she's saying to me. And do I dare tell you this, you know what she did say and I Really it's like I've got it. Look it up because I want to get it correct? oh gosh, and now I can't see it but basically
Oh, I can't find it in the book I'll rat, but she basically when I left not realizing it, she confessed to me. Because she said something to the effect, and I wish I could look and find this in and look it up until A2. Specifically that Tracy would have screwed up if she had been dad it's his last and if she had remembered the walkthrough because- remember how I said they did a walk through the day before and so let's go yeah and so less base
the clear admitted that there had been a walk through and then she caught herself and said if there had been one and I'm like dang. I got it again, though. That was like a confession. Well sure I mean it. There is a lot of cases where, despite all the evidence, despite the appeals, despite twenty five years, are still professing their innocence, that's their ploy right. That's right, simple! There's no benefit to confessing for those people, like her. There have been lying in conning for right from the very beginning. There are a lot of people who give me a hard time about my respect for Tracy told him because they say how could you respect someone who tried to kill someone and it's because of interviewing so many killers who
always deny what they did and I respect Tracy because she admits what she did and takes full responsibility for the actions. What was her you? You talked about the charm that exuded from from Celeste what was when you spoke with Tracy. What did she say? Well, let's see if you know I have a little bit of mutual history in that we went to the same summer camp that we know a lot of the same people. In fact, one of my friends was a mentor to her and she, when I got here, been telling this when I first met Tracy, which was right after the trial. And we were all exhausted and stressed out- I walked into the meeting with Tracy singing one of our camp songs
she was furious. I'd add I learned this move would later from other people, because she thought I was being disrespectful to the. What Tracy did not know was that almost every now died after court Becky Beard and I were going out to dinner together an Becky. And I formed a bond where we were each other support through the trial 'cause. I know it sounds ridiculous, but These trials are emotionally wearing on the riders to so Becky and I would go out at night- would have steaks or what and we would talk and we would the laugh, a lot would do black humor. We would also cry particularly Becky would cry so, she didn't know that Becky and I
head established this bond of laughter and tears and that Becky would have objected to this vex pride would've been laughing and so Tracy always didn't feel like. I was respectful for the not enough and got this so, even though I interviewed her twice. She was very giving to me as far as information. We did not create a particular bond. Does that make sense sure But I are you: go ahead, go ahead. What else to say I I just know her through our summer camp together, we did not know each other at, but we to so many people. I know her personality from book people because she does not remember this, but she helped me a lot with my first book on selling it at book people. So
I I know I feel, and that shouldn't be this way. 'cause, I'm a journalist, I shouldn't have this, but I do feel a loyalty and respect for Tracy, because I know how smart she is. I know how caring she is. I know what kind of family she came from and how screwed up it was and how she says. Don't blame this on my face Don't blame this on my youth. You know my growing up. Don't blame this on my mental illness. I did this. This is my fault. And I admire that, she was diagnosed as bipolar as you write in the book and the deal was twenty years, so there is
She will be released some day and she's already out is out yes she's out well now. What was interesting in the book too, is that, Celeste by that time, Celeste Johnson was incarcerated and so used to being spoiled and pampered that she had a real tough time and if it's not, if you don't write it as humor, but I found it really. You know I could just it was very vivid in her requests and her her to planes while she was in prison, maybe it's us tell us a little bit about how how she fared in prison. Now. This of this was primarily when she was in jail here in Austin and it was she could you get over, that she wasn't the diva at the country Club,
so she she would complain about how the shampoo an prison was. Bad, add and then it was making her her break and frizzy and fall out, and she said her sixty the dollars hair, shampoo and stuff she would complained that she wasn't getting her vacations that on time and that she wasn't seeing a doctor and she kept saying this No, I have health insurance. Why can't I see a doctor, she complained that they weren't giving her her book. But she wanted her books to read and dig and sent a letter saying why can't she have her books and the the you know, officers at the jail would say: hey not telling you the whole story. We only allow. I can't remember who it was two or three books and she has sex and what
It's also amazing. What she loves to read is true crime, and that's one of the things that she would tell Tracy Like when Tracy said it's not going to kill him. If I shoot him in the gut and Celeste that oh yes? I know these things. I read all these true crimes, a mystery novels. I know what I'm doing yeah. What was the what was the dynamic between Tracy at trial, the demeanor of Celeste at trial and that fateful event when Tracy is testifying against Celeste? What's what was that dynamic like it? would usually glare at someone when they you know thinking that he could intimidate 'em and people usually wouldn't look at her, but what I found most interesting is at the very beginning of the trial slow. This was this gym, mirror girl, who would sit
They're all prim and proper and her twin sets and as the trial, went on that dim, mirror proper demeanor would leave and she would constantly whisper and talk. And rolled her eyes, which she got in trouble with the judge for doing, like I say, glare at people and then when there were breaks she would be over there laughing with her. You know defense team at one point. They were talking about Celeste wrapping a house and I'm I'm I'm sorry I can't remember the exact joke, but I think it was that they were acting Jimmy Martinez, his house, and that
Celeste was angry and you'll have to correct me if I'm wrong and she urinated on his lawn or something like that, yes and and that that Testimony was on the her 40th birthday Ann she laughed and love that and said that that was her birthday present was hearing that testimony. Her life is on the line and sees why is it glade about people testifying that grown woman's urinating on her ex husband's lawn come on yeah, interesting uh. What was it like for the daughters at this? Because you know I mean there's no, no win situation for these people at all. The daughters, Th
They were. They were totally stressed by this. You know in court refusing to look at their mom and everything, but they have a sense of humor, and so they could. Sort of turn it on and off that they can be laugh, seen in joking one minute and then serious the next, I believe when they when the jury was deliberating. And they were, you know, show all in victim services or the DA's office? they were making jokes about Celeste, getting the the Electric chair, you know and watching her fry? So it's I don't know they get really upset. If anyone says there like
less, but they you know they are there mom's daughters, and it doesn't mean that they are completely like Celeste, but they do have that ability to laugh and see we're Nis and tragic situations. What was the TD's take on this. Did they were you guys, sort of in line or war? Where did they go with this? I know they love beautiful people and rich people, and then talks talk of lesbian sex, sexual affairs and somebody commissioning somebody else to murder. They must love that. So tell us what the media response was what their sort of take was on it? Well, the local media, when this first happened, pretty much stayed away from it. Uh there's a scene. In the book where I have a lot the people in Austin, who were friends of Steve sitting. There
gossiping and the growth local grocery store going what's going on? Why isn't this you know? Being you know on the news and all they could figure out was. Why wasn't leave. You know it must be because Steve didn't want this, because he new everybody in the media being in radio and then right afterwards. One of the local radio shows, though, on a country western station where there you know kind of the. I won't say, Howard Stern of country music, but there are rather irreverent group, and so, let's called in their radio show and say I everybody's making this totally trashy and there being very respectful, Celeste and saying you know, our prayers are with you and let you know and then they hang up and. And then are like going holy cow, and so I think the
Media, the local meta was rather respectful, it was all the with that's going on and the grocery store aisles at the country club and that kind of stuff. Now, if you're talking about the NASH media yeah. They ate it up. You know, court tv was here back on court, tv existed, Abe, C news was following at CBS, news was following it, so you know it did attract a bit of media absolutely. Well, it's a fascinating tale. I want to thank you for coming on and talking about the fortune hunter for those that might want to look further into some of the other books. You you mentioned the book wasted and we talked about breaking point with boat, Andrea, Yates
tell us where they might be able to contact you through Facebook or you have a website find out a lot more of your work, yeah the my website, Suzy, Spencer, dot com, and that spelled issues the wives so that he, will get it correctly and find it. I am I'm on you know my at my website. You can email me through there I'm on Facebook. I believe that the Spencer DOT authors, something on Facebook. You can email me through there, I'm on Twitter, at Spencer, writer, W r. I t e Our and you can contact me there, so I'm I'm easy to reach. I don't he was shot gun. Yes, absolutely because if you kill yeah absolutely thank you very much Susie for coming on and talking about that- and I know we'll be talking again in the near future. So thank you very much and have a great evening. You too, thank you good night
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Transcript generated on 2019-11-05.