15 Years Later, Murder-Suicide Fades From View (Fifth Monday)

by Gwen Moritz  on Monday, Sep. 30, 2002 12:00 am  

• a handwritten will; and

• assorted personal papers such as car titles and birth certificates.

News reports at the time couldn’t resist such details as the video of “A Nightmare on Elm Street” that was in the family’s VCR and the copy of “Bouquet For Murder,” the first book about the 1982 murder of Alice McArthur, that was found in the home. The book probably had no real significance; the scary movie may have explained why Suzanne was sleeping with her sister rather than in her own bedroom.

Police investigators would conclude from blood analysis that Markle wore the rubber mask as he shot Amy four times, and probably while he put five bullets in Suzanne and three in Chris. A couple of hours later, he phoned Lawrence and then shot himself in both sides of his head simultaneously using the revolvers that were found with his body. That no one in the neighborhood reported hearing more than a dozen gunshots was explained by the thunderstorm.

Lab tests would reveal that all four Markles had trace amounts of Elavil, an antidepressant that causes drowsiness, in their systems. John and Chris both tested positive for Valium and marijuana, and John also had ingested an appetite suppressant and a small quantity of alcohol.


John Markle

John Lawrence Markle was born early on Christmas Day 1941 in Hollywood, Calif., to Mercedes McCambridge, a 23-year-old radio actress, and her husband, writer William Fifield. When John was 8, McCambridge would win the Academy Award as best supporting actress for her screen debut in “All the King’s Men,” a political drama that was also named the “best picture” of 1949.

By then, her marriage to Fifield was over and she was married to Fletcher Markle, a film and TV director who adopted her young son.

Despite an erratic Hollywood upbringing, John Markle was a brilliant if eccentric student. He earned his master’s degree in economics from the University of California at Los Angeles in 1968. He and Christina married in July of that year.

John joined Salomon Brothers in Dallas in 1972, the same year his mother was nominated for a Tony Award for her Broadway role in “The Love Suicide At Schofield Barracks.” The next year, Markle received his Ph.D. in economics from UCLA. Also in 1973, Mercedes McCambridge performed as the voice of the demon in the classic horror film “The Exorcist.”

The Markle family was lured to Little Rock in 1979 by Stephens Inc., where John was the firm’s economist and one-man futures-trading department. He handled a corporate account for the firm’s founders, Jack and Witt Stephens. A few months before his death, Markle told Forbes magazine that he had no position limits that he knew of. At one point, he boasted, he could put $800 million on the line without consulting a committee.



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