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No reason known for apparent murder-suicide of McCambridge's son, family

By JEFF NECESSARY

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Police said they knew of no reason why the son of actress Mercedes McCambridge apparently shot his wife and two daughters and then killed himself in a murder-suicide.

John Markle, son of the Academy Award-winning actress and a vice president at an investment banking firm, shot his young daughters and wife at about 2:30 a.m. Monday before killing himself, police said.

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Markle left a suicide note, police said.

'The note said he had killed his wife and his daughters and was going to kill himself,' Sgt. Phill Wilson said.

Wilson said police had no motive for the slayings or suicide, but there were unconfirmed reports that Markle had serious financial trouble related to his job.

Those killed were identified as Markle, 45, his wife, Christine Markle, 45, and their two daughters, Amy, 12, and Suzanne, 9.

Markle, who had a Ph.D. in economics, was a vice president for Stephens Inc. of Little Rock, specializing in analysis of fixed income securities. Stephens is the nation's largest investment banking firm not located on Wall Street.

'He had been on medical leave for about a month prior to this tragic event, and that's all I can say,' Stephens spokesman Steve Stephens said.

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Stephens said McCambridge flew to Little Rock by private plane from her San Diego home Monday. Her agent, Michael Hartig of New York, declined comment but said he would join the actress today.

Police said several handguns were recovered from the three-story house in the fashionable Quapaw Quarter near downtown Little Rock, but said it had not been determined yet which one was used in the shootings.

Christine Markle's body was found on the top floor of the house, with the two girls on the second floor and Markle himself on the ground floor. All four had been shot in the head.

School officials moved quickly Monday to provide support for friends of the girls. Amy Markle was a seventh-grader at Mann Junior High and Suzanne was a fourth-grader at Gibbs Elementary.

'The principals of Mann and Gibbs are working closely with counselors and the students, and with parents, to help all of our children who were friends of these two girls ... over the next few days,' acting Superintendent George Cannon said.

Investigators said Markle called a friend about 2:30 a.m., told him he had an emergency and asked the friend to come over.

The unidentified friend came over and found the house unlocked but could get no response from anyone in the house. He flagged down a police car, and officers went in and found the victims.

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McCambridge, 69, won an Oscar as best supporting actress in 1950 for her role in 'All the King's Men.' She was also nominated for an Academy Award in 1956 for her supporting role in 'Giant' and won a Tony award in 1972 for her role on Broadway in Stephen Sondheim's 'Follies'.

Her other films include 'Johnny Guitar,' 'A Farewell to Arms,' 'Suddenly Last Summer,' 'Angel Baby' and 'The Exorcist,' in which she dubbed the voice for the demon-possessed girl played by Linda Blair.

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