Was Carole Murdered?

This is the last photo of Aunt Carole alive. It was taken at a womens baseball game on July 3, 1948. She is posing with players Bertha Ragan and Kay Rich and manager Dutch Chandler. The next day Carole was dead. (Photo from Bertha Ragan)

My beautiful Aunt Carole died in 1948 when she was only 29. The official story is that she committed suicide because her married boyfriend Rex Harrison would not marry her. I want you to know that my family has never believed that it was a suicide. We are 100% convinced that Rex Harrison is to blame for her death. My grandmother Dorothy begged the police to investigate more but they refused. Desperate to find answers she hired a private detective. All he could tell her was that people were paid off and evidence was destroyed. The only person brave enough to come forward was Carole's secretary Nan Stuart who knew there was a cover-up.

We know strange footprints were found outside and the lights in the bathroom were suspiciously turned off. Then there was a mysterious 2nd note which was never really explained. There are theories about what may have happened the night she died. Maybe Rex put secanol in Carole's food without her knowing about. He knew about her past "suicide attempts" and thought no one would find it odd. He had been in the house a lot so he knew where the pills were. Another possibility is that Carole did threaten to kill herself as a dramatic gesture...something she had done in the past to get attention. She took the pills then called Rex to save her. He found her and instead of calling a doctor he just let her die.

One of the myths that has circled around and then seems to bounce here and there and becomes such a focus is that Carole was manic depressive. I find it hard to believe she was. Yes, she had made a few "attention grabbing" suicide attempts but in those cases she would take aspirin and was always near someone who she knew would save her. I think this part of her personality came from her childhood. When she didn't get her way she threw a tantrum and she would get what she wanted. She was determined at such a young age and it might not have been the right way but it sure worked. She was a smart woman and knew how to make things go her way. Everyone has something they do to ensure themselves that they get what they want. We all choose our methods even if it's not always the smartest thing to do.

Another issue I have is this...if she was so depressed to attempt to kill herself or planned it then why would she go on a BIG shopping spree and plan a 4th of July party with her friends? I know from research that she wasn't broke - she had work coming up and was getting a big check from the sale of her house. She was smart enough to know that she shouldn't keep spending if she didn't have money. Also when she had a party she really knew how to do it right!!! She would put out a "feast to feed a village" (my grandmother's words) and she would be dressed up and would be the best hostess and always wanted everyone to enjoy and have fun.

She was in a bubbly and radiant mood that 4th of July weekend. Not one friend said that she was down and depressed. She even said she had "never been happier". Now, if she had stayed in the house, secluded herself from friends, and put on a fake smile it would be a different story. She was a great actress but by no means could you pull it off that well. Her friends would have known and at some point she would have shown her true emotions to someone. That night she was set on telling Rex that he need to keep his word to leave his wife or they were done. She wanted to have a normal relationship - marriage and children. I think that's what he promised her.

She even had her friends leave that evening because they knew he was coming over. If she was so down then she could have just had him come over without anyone knowing it and then proceeded to take her life. The real interesting thing is that from my training with suicide counseling I learned this - someone who really wants to take their life NEVER tells anyone about it. Yes, some leave a note explaining why but they don't reach out to anyone while they are doing it. Most who have called for help usually say they NEVER really wanted to in the first place. Carole just wasn't in the mind frame what so ever of someone who was going to do it.

We know she made a phone call to her close friend Marguerite around midnight. IF she was taking pills at that time and really wanted to die she wouldn't have made the call. And it probably wasn't one of her "attention grabbers" due to the fact that she didn't call anyone else. Or maybe she did call Rex and she thought he was coming to the house to save her but he didn't. The fact that REX was the last to see her and the first to find her body is the key! There are many unanswered questions but all the facts we know about that night make him look very guilty. Aunt Carole's death has haunted my family for 62 years and knowing Rex Harrison never paid for what he did only makes it worse. We may never know the truth about her death but we do know that the official version just doesn't make sense.

~ Written by Tammy Powell, Carole's great-niece

Before you believe Carole committed suicide consider the following...

1) Carole was very happy before her death. She had a lot of plans for her future and told her sister that she was going back to church.

2) Carole was not obsessed with Rex and broke up with him several times before the 4th of July. That spring she dated actor Turhan Bey and almost reconciled with Horace Schmidlapp.

3) Carole's other suicide attempts were never serious since she always made sure she was saved. The "suicide note" was undated so it could have been written any time.

4) Rex was married and he did not want to get a divorce. He was afraid that his relationship with Carole was hurting his image and career.

5) Rex was the last person to see Carole alive and the first one to see her dead. After finding her he left the house and waited hours before calling the police.

6) Rex came to Carole's house that morning and told the maid he thought she was dead. This was BEFORE they found the body!

7) Rex claimed he felt a pulse when he found Carole's body. The autopsy said she died around 4 AM so this only could be true is if he was in the house much earlier.

8) Rex lied to the police about his love affair with Carole saying they were just friends. He even paid a police officer to destroy another "love" note found in the house.

9) For years after she died newspapers reported there new clues in the case but the police continued to ignore the evidence. Then Carole's police file mysteriously disappeared!

10) Esther Williams says that Lili Palmer LIED in her autobiography about what happened between Rex and Carole the night she died. What was Lili covering up?

This is Carole's father Alfred Ridste talking to reporters after she died. Alfred (my great-grandfather) was convinced she was murdered. He said there were "secret pictures" that would reveal who did it. In this family letter he wrote "You and I can go to our graves knowing she didn't take her life, she was too big and loved life too much to choose that way, and when all the cards are turned over, it will reveal the truth in this case...until judgment comes, a guilty conscience needs no accuser."...


This is Rex Harrison at the coroner's inquest. We believe he lied about what happened and is to blame for her death. He later said "I felt no guilt complex—no, none at all but I did spend months afterwards going to psychiatrists, discussing the suicide with them, seeking the reasons for it. The plain fact is that Carole had a death wish!"

Carole's fan club "The Carolers" sent this memorial card after she died

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