Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Claus von Bulow Case

Missed Opportunities

After Thanksgiving, Sunny had a self-induced health crisis that once again precipitated a hospital stay. Suffering from an intensely painful sinus infection, she overdosed on aspirin and became disoriented and "slurry," Maria said. Sunny was bleeding from her head when Claus alerted Maria to her mistress's distress, and as she tried to talk to Sunny, Claus called 911.

Sunny spent six days in the hospital suffering from her toxic aspirin poisoning. She had taken more than 60 aspirin, a dosage high enough to have killed her.

In a letter to a friend, Maria confided that she and Claus were at "daggers points" and that Sunny was completely dependent on her husband. There were no more parties, Maria lamented, and Sunny was depressed about her recent significant weight gain.

As Christmas neared, the von Bülows prepared to go to Clarendon Court for a brief pre-holiday respite. The plan was to return to New York for Christmas, as Sunny's mother, Annie Laurie Aitken, had taken ill and was unable to travel. It was a family tradition that the entire clan reunite for the holiday.

Since the visit to Newport was going to be short, Claus suggested that Maria remain in New York to rest. Reluctantly, she agreed. Before the von Bülows left, however, Maria noticed the black bag in Claus' luggage. In his absence, she opened it and saw the syringes and insulin.

Again, Maria considered warning Sunny, and again she said nothing. But that was her last chance. Maria would never again see Sunny von Bülow conscious.

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