Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Claudine Longet and Spider Sabich

Life's a Beach

Judge Lohr added the "time of her choosing" clause to the sentence out of concern for Longet's children. He assumed she would want to serve her time while the children were on summer vacation.

Claudine Longet with attorney Ron Austin
Claudine Longet with attorney Ron Austin

But Longet had her own priorities. Not long after the sentencing, she stole away for a Mexican seaside vacation with defense attorney Ron Austin, who abandoned his family to take up with Longet.

Longet eventually did serve her time, mostly on weekends. Longet and Austin married and currently live in Aspen. Longet is now 63.

Longet has been allowed to live a private life in the resort town, but she has been portrayed as the duplicitous villain in pop culture.

A 1977 Saturday Night Live episode featured a segment about the "Claudine Longet Invitational Ski Shoot." Chevy Chase and Jane Curtin played commentators as a film showed a skier crashing after the sound of gunfire. "Uh-oh," Curtin said, "he seems to have been accidentally shot by Claudine Longet."

And the release of the Rolling Stones' LP "Emotional Rescue" was delayed in 1980 while lawyers vetted the potential libel in one of the cuts, "Claudine."

The song, written by Mick Jagger, included these lyrics:

"Oh, Claudine/Now only Spider knows for sure/But he ain't talkin' about it any more/Is he, Claudine?/There's blood in the chalet/And blood in the snow/She washed her hands of the whole damn show/The best thing you could do, Claudine."

The song was cut from the album, although copies have leaked out.

Like Jagger, prosecutor Tucker and Sabich's family believe that Longet killed a man and escaped with little retribution.

Vladimir Sabich Sr. filed a $1.3 million wrongful-death civil lawsuit against her. They settled out of court after Longet agreed to a confidentiality clause that barred her from speaking about Sabich.

"I wasn't looking for money," Vladimir Sabich Sr. told the Sacramento Bee in 1996. "I just wanted the truth. I kept her from publishing a book."

"I've always known she shot Spider Sabich and meant to do it," said former district attorney Frank Tucker.

"It's a shame, because Spider accomplished so much in his life," said Steve Sabich, Spider's brother. "Claudine accomplished only two things — marrying Andy Williams and getting away with murder." 

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