Suicide letter blames actress mother

LITTLE ROCK, Ark. -- Actress Mercedes McCambridge's son, who killed his wife and children before committing suicide, blamed his mother for many of his problems, according to a letter found at the man's home.

The letter and other documents were released Monday after the state Supreme Court declined to rehear its decision that the police file should be made public under the Freedom of Information Act. McCambridge, an Oscar-winning actress from San Diego, Calif., had opposed the release, arguing it would invade her privacy.


The letter written before the Nov. 16, 1987 murder-suicide was found at John Markle's home, where Markle killed his wife, Christine, 45, and two children, aged 9 and 13, and then shot himself.

The documents portray a man caught by his employer, Stephens Inc., in a multimillion-dollar swindle and a man bitter at the mother he felt he had been unable to please.

The documents, in Markle's own words, say what police already had concluded: McCambridge knew nothing about her son's thefts from the Little Rock investment banking firm where he was a vice president, or at least not until Markle's last days when his scheme had been uncovered and he was desperately trying to negotiate a settlement.


Markle was fired after he was caught manipulating accounts to help his mother,who won an Oscar as best supporting actress in the 1950 movie 'All the King's Men' and was praised for her voice-role as the devil heard in 'The Exorcist.'

The scheme saddled Stephens with an estimated $4.6 million in losses.

In a 12-page letter written before the murder-suicide, Markle recorded his relationship with his mother from 1949 until his death and detailed things she did that angered him.

He charged McCambridge, a reformed alcoholic who discussed her disease with members of a U.S. Senate subcommittee in 1969, was 'incurably angry' and manipulative.

He told her that if she had agreed to a settlement offer from Stephens, he could have resigned and gotten another job.

'You were never around much when I needed you, so now I and my whole family are dead -- so you can have the money -- funny how things work out, isn't it?' Markle wrote.

'Initially you said, well, we can work it out,' Markle wrote. 'You called me a liar, a cheat, a criminal, a bum. You said I have ruined your life.'

Markle wrote that he never thought his mother loved him and that he had tried to win her love through gifts, academic achievement and the 'enormous personal risk' he took to make her money.


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