Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Claudine Longet and Spider Sabich

A Fatal Shot

Sabich suffered a compressed vertebra injury in the final race of the 1973 ski season, at Aspen Highlands. Although he continued to ski competitively, the back problem hampered his performance in the following three seasons.

At the same time, his relationship with Longet had grown increasingly contentious. He told friends they were heading for a split — although he was having problems convincing Longet that it was time to move on.

By March 21, 1976, Sabich faced a double dilemma over his personal and professional future.

The couple went their separate ways that morning. Sabich skied, then met with Bob Beattie. Longet saw the children off to school, then donned ski gear herself.

She apparently never made it to the slopes. She shopped, then stopped at a bar for a glass of wine or two. She was waiting at home at 3:30 when the children arrived from school.

Sabich got home 30 minutes later.

Preparing to shower, he stripped to blue thermal underwear. He planned to go to a party that night. According to one account, he planned to go to the party alone. According to another, he planned to go with Longet. Longet walked into the bathroom holding a pistol as Sabich disrobed.

A single shot rang out, and Sabich was hit in the abdomen. Longet's children ran to the sound and saw the skier in their mother's arms, bleeding. She called for help, then sent the children outside to await the ambulance.

Sabich lost a tremendous volume of blood on the bathroom floor. He died in the ambulance en route to the hospital, with Longet at his side. 

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