Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Claus von Bulow Case

"What For, Insulin?"

Maria, unsure of how Sunny would react to the discovery, and whether Sunny already knew about the black bag, said nothing to her mistress. Neither did Ala or Alexander.

Intravenous injections were reputedly a normal part of the von Bülow household. Maria would later testify that she saw Claus with a syringe and vitamins while on vacation in Majorca. Friends of Sunny's — Truman Capote and Joanne Carson, ex-wife of the Tonight Show host — swore in depositions that Sunny was a regular IV drug user. Maria, herself, although she never saw Sunny use a syringe, knew Claus had injected her with vitamins.

Nevertheless, Maria and the von Auersperg children continued to keep an eye on the black bag as Claus moved it from New York to Rhode Island and back.

In April 1980, Sunny again appeared weak, incoherent and disoriented. Maria immediately called Dr. Stock, who admitted Sunny to a New York hospital for tests. In the course of the tests, doctors confirmed the original diagnosis of reactive hypoglycemia. The only treatment for severe hypoglycemia is diet management. Sunny was ordered to limit her sugar intake and to stay away from alcohol.

In the meantime, Ala married a wealthy Austrian in Salzburg, and Sunny, despite her sadness over losing her daughter to the continent, appeared hale and hearty during the festivities. She managed her diet, drinking only diet sodas and having fruit for dessert. There were no signs of illness and no attacks of hypoglycemia.

Shortly before Thanksgiving, however, Maria was cleaning Claus' closet and saw the black bag. She opened it and found the usual contents. She also found something much more ominous.

Inside the bag were three syringes, one used. In addition to the needles, a large vial, filled with liquid, was marked "Insulin."

Frightened, Maria immediately showed the contents to Alexander.

"What for, insulin?" she asked him. "Mrs. von Bülow is not a diabetic. She doesn't need insulin."

Again, Maria decided to keep her discovery from both Sunny and Claus. It was not her place, she reasoned, to come between a husband and wife. This decision, and her alert of Alexander, would have profound implications.