Hollywood Scandals: John Markle, Mercedes McCamrdige’ Son, Tale of Crime, Murder, and Suicide

Family Scandal: Murder and Suicide

In 1979, McCambridge’s son John Markle, a UCLA graduate with a Ph.D. in Economics, joined the Little Rock, Arkansas investment firm Stephens Inc. after working for Salomon Brothers in New York City. Markle was a successful trader, and quickly rose through the company’s ranks, but in the fall of 1987, the company discovered that Markle had opened a secret account in McCambridge’s name.

Soon the company found that Markle had been co-mingling the accounts’ funds and charging losses to the Stephens house account, while crediting all revenue from winning trades to McCambridge’s account. Markle forged his mother’s signature in opening this account.

Markle was placed on medical leave, then fired from his position at Stephens for mishandling funds. McCambridge refused to cooperate with Markle and the company in instituting a repayment scheme that would have kept the matter from becoming public.

Shortly thereafter, in November 1987, Markle killed his family—his wife Christine (age 45) and daughters Amy (age 13) and Suzanne (age 9)—and then himself. He left both a note taking responsibility for his crimes and a long, bitter letter to his mother. He wrote: “Initially you said, ‘well, we can work it out’ but NO, you refused… You called me a liar, a cheat, a criminal, a bum. You said I have ruined your life… You were never around much when I needed you, so now I and my whole family are dead — so you can have the money… ’Night, Mother.”

A $5 million lawsuit was filed against Markle’s estate and McCambridge claiming fraud and misappropriation of funds. Although some of the mishandled funds had been handled under McCambridge’s name through Markle’s power of attorney, she herself was subsequently cleared of any wrongdoing.