Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marriage, Money and Murder: Steven and Celeste Beard

Charged With Murder

Tarlton and Celeste managed to maintain regular phone contact for the first nine months Tarlton spent in jail. But their relationship became strained as Celeste grew increasingly overwrought.

Finally, in the summer of 2000, Tarlton and Celeste called off their relationship.

"Celeste started going bananas, hysterical a lot of the time," Tarlton told CBS. "We both said, 'We're not going to do this anymore. You won't see me again.'"

Tarlton was distraught and apparently took an overdose of Valium. Still, she refused to finger Celeste in the murder.

That changed a few weeks after the breakup when she read a newspaper story about Celeste. It said she had married Cole Johnson on July 3, 2000, within few days of their breakup.

Tarlton reached the conclusion that she had been used.

"She's off at her honeymoon in Aspen," she told CBS. "Even I couldn't overlook that. It was like everything started unraveling very quickly for me after that article...I started realizing Celeste had been lying to me all alongthat this man was not abusing her, that she had married him for his money, that she had been lying to me about our relationship. All of it was a farce."

Tarlton sat down with prosecutors and detectives and told her story.

Celeste Beard
Celeste Beard

Celeste was arrested on March 28, 2002, and charged with her former husband's murder.

A judge set bail at $8 million, noting that Celeste had earned $2 million after selling the mini-mansion just months after Beard died. The woman's lawyer argued she had just $7,289 left, one year and four months later.

Donna Goodson
Donna Goodson

Celeste's problems deepened a few months later when she was indicted for another felony that was perhaps even more Quixotic than the murder. Authorities alleged that she had tried to hire her friend Donna Goodson to murder Tracey Tarlton.

Dominic Dunne's Power, Priviledge and Justice

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