Arkansas Business' 25 Cases of Mystery & Mayhem (25th Anniversary)

by Arkansas Business Staff  on Monday, Mar. 23, 2009 12:00 am  

But there's still this one nagging question: Was Ashley, who will turn 62 later this month, inspired by a similar case in Atlanta, where he and Debbie married just before moving to Little Rock in June 1990?

In that November 1989 case, the body of former TV anchorwoman Connie Vance Krause, then PR manager for the Arthur Andersen & Co. accounting firm, was found stuffed in the trunk of her car at a metro station. Her unemployed husband, Hans Krause, was suspected of killing her for the $380,000 in insurance on her life. Unlike Larry Ashley, Hans Krause was never charged with his wife's murder – but neither was anyone else. And Connie Krause's parents successfully sued in civil court to keep Hans from collecting the insurance.

And there's this curious fact: At the time of Connie Krause's death, the Arthur Andersen branch where she worked was conducting an investigation of irregular Medicare billing. That investigation would result in Larry Ashley being fired in March 1990 – just in time to take the job with The BridgeWay.

23. Doc Hale
Little Rock Police Chief Jess F. "Doc" Hale shot himself to death in the laundry room of his Cabot home in April 1988. He was on suspension at the time, awaiting trial on a charge of stealing money from the cash register of Buice Drug Store, a landmark in the Stifft's Station neighborhood of Little Rock.

How Hale died is no mystery at all. And there's no doubt that he repeatedly took cash from the register; hours of surveillance video clearly showed his hand in the till. But, for many in Little Rock, Hale's suicide didn't negate his claims that he had permission to borrow money when he needed to and was "set up" by the drugstore's owner, state Rep. George E. Wimberly.

Wimberly, a former Little Rock mayor, is nearly 90 but still practicing as a pharmacist at Buice Drug.

24. John Markle
A handful of conspiracy theorists remain unconvinced, but a lengthy police investigation confirmed what seemed obvious as soon as the crime was discovered: In the early morning hours of Monday, Nov. 16, 1987, Stephens Inc. futures trader John Markle, 45, unloaded 12 bullets into his wife and two young daughters in their Quapaw Quarter home, called his lawyer and then shot himself in both sides of his head simultaneously.

It quickly emerged that Markle had been fired three days earlier, on Friday the 13th, weeks after Stephens executives discovered that he had engaged in a long-term embezzlement scheme that seemed designed to benefit his mother, Oscar-winning actress Mercedes McCambridge.

Markle would order trades through a cooperative Chicago brokerage without specifying whether the trades should be entered on the Stephens house account or on an account he had opened for his mother. At the end of each trading day, Markle would assign profitable trades to his mother's account and losing trades to the Stephens account.

Next to the shocking deaths themselves, the most explosive element of the Markle case was a 12-page letter that he left behind for his mother. McCambridge spent a year and a half trying to keep the contents of the letter from being released under the Arkansas Freedom of Information Act, but it was ultimately printed in full in the Arkansas Gazette and the Arkansas Democrat in April 1989. The letter suggested that Markle had spent his life trying to please his mother and resorted to murder-suicide when she rejected a plan for paying restitution to Stephens Inc.

25. Mena Airport
The most mysterious thing about the Mena Intermountain Municipal Airport is determining what is known and what is merely speculation.

A swaggering drug smuggler named Adler Berriman "Barry" Seal admitted using the Mena airport as a base of operation beginning about 1981. His best friend and co-pilot, Emile Camp of Slidell, La., died in a plane crash at Fourche Mountain north of the airport in February 1985. But the miasma of allegations – Mena as epicenter of Iran-Contra, Bill Clinton a drug-smuggling conspirator, Bryant teenagers Kevin Ives and Don Henry murdered because they stumbled into Mena-related drug dealing – may never be settled.


(Click here to see all the stories in our anniversary edition. Or click here to flip through each page of the edition in this special free electronic version.) 



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