Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Claus von Bulow Case

Alexandra Isles

While technicians talked about tests and doctors debated diabetes on the stand, another, much more interesting subplot was brewing outside the courtroom. Alexandra Isles had fled the country to avoid testifying, but she was eventually brought into the courtroom, amid a media frenzy.

The Providence Journal described the scene: "Mrs. Isles' testimony was much anticipated. In her travels yesterday, state police protected her as they might have protected an enormously popular entertainer or a political candidate.

"She arrived at the courthouse in an unmarked police car, accompanied by three other police vehicles. Policemen from Rhode Island and Massachusetts bounced out of their vehicles, formed a human wedge to escort her and knifed through a bevy of photographers and reporters who awaited her arrival.

"When she left the courtroom after testifying, about a dozen reporters followed her out as the jurors watched. Her lawyers and state policemen hustled her away, at one point running with her down the corridors of the courthouse to avoid the reporters."

Equally electrifying was what Alexandra had to say on the stand.

According to Alexandra, Claus told her in a telephone conversation that he watched his wife take a sleeping pill and drink alcohol-laced eggnog, then lie unconscious for hours.

"He said that they had been having a long argument-talk about divorce," Alexandra testified. "It had gone on late into the night. She had drunk a great deal of eggnog. And then he said, 'I saw her take the Seconal.'

"And then he said that the next day, when she was unconscious, that he watched her, knowing that she was in a bad way, all day. And he watched her and watched her.

"And finally, when she was on the point of dying, he said that he couldn't go through with it, and he called and saved her life."

As Alexandra testified, Claus sat at the defense table shaking his head.