Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

William Randolph's Hearse

One Account of Ince's death

Nasaw goes on to say that, after Ince's death, "Stories began to percolate through Hollywood that Hearst, in a fit of jealous rage, had murdered Ince. The absence of hard evidence made it easier to invent new rumors. In the years to come, Hearst would be accused of poisoning Ince, shooting him, hiring an assassin to shoot him, fatally wounding him while shooting at Chaplin — and, most recently and ridiculously, in an article published in 1997 in Vanity Fair, of accidentally stabbing him through the heart with Marion's hatpin, causing an instant, fatal heart attack." Nasaw appears to conclusively discount all of these possibilities, preferring instead to parrot the Hearst party line that attributed "natural causes" to Ince's death.

"While it was true that Hearst had done his best to keep Ince's presence on the Oneida a secret, he had done so not to cover up a murder, but because he didn't want the press or the local police investigating his yachting party with champagne flowing in flagrant disregard of the Prohibition laws," Nasaw further rationalizes.

It has been reported in other sources, and in The Cat's Meow (which Nasaw blasts in uncompromising terms, despite admitting to not having seen the movie), that Hearst was also trying to cover for Ince who was cavorting onboard with his mistress. In the movie, Hearst calls up Nell Ince and tells her about her husband's infidelity, strongly implying that her silence on the entire affair would be in everyone's best interests. Especially Hearst's. What better way to ensure a grieving widow's cooperation in averting an inquest than to implicate her late husband in a potentially embarrassing extramarital affair?

Whether or not Hearst attempted to whitewash a murder he may have committed and swear everyone who had been onboard to silence, will probably never be known for certain. Too much time has passed and the trail has long since gone cold. However, there are many elements to the story that strongly suggest a massive cover-up operation was orchestrated by Hearst. Not the least of these elements was the decision to have Ince's body cremated almost immediately, before an official inquest could be launched. Hearst provided Nell Ince with a sizable pension after her husband's death, and she left for Europe soon afterward, possibly on Hearst's advice to avoid media scrutiny.

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