Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Marriage, Money and Murder: Steven and Celeste Beard

Serial Bride

She was divorced in 1983, but Celeste proved to be the marrying kind.

She soon wed Harald Wolf, an Air Force mechanic, but they divorced in 1991. (According to Celeste, her divorce lawyer paid for her to have a boob job after the split-up.)

Celeste then moved to Arizona, wherestruggling to make ends meetshe got into trouble for burning a car she had reported stolen. She was convicted of insurance fraud and spent three months in jail.

Husband No. 3 was a Mexican-American named Jimmy Martinez.

Celeste had a raunchy sense of humor, and it would later come to light that she had a nickname for Martinez' private parts: BMW, for Big Mexican Weiner.

That marriage, too, went kaput, and Celeste found herself single again in a new city, Austin, Texas.

As she entered her 30s, she was treading water, working as a waitress in 1993 at the Austin Country Club.

Among the regular customers there were Steven and Elise Beard, both in their 60s with grown children.

Elise was an avid golfer, while Steven preferred the club's indoor activitieseating and drinking.

Elise fell ill with cancer and went quickly, dying on Oct. 13, 1993.

Steven did not do well alone.

Within weeks of the funeral he yearned for steady company, and he began pursuing companionship in the person of Celeste Johnson Bratcher Wolf Martinez.

They had their first date less than three weeks after Elise's death.

Beard, 68, treated Celeste, 30, to a lavish Italian meal at Mama Mia's restaurant in Austin. They enjoyed a nightcap at the mini-mansion, and Steven allowed Celeste to drive herself home in his $50,000 Lexus sedan.

This, Celeste must have said to herself, could work out quite nicely. A Lexus beats the hell out of a BMW.

Dominic Dunne's Power, Priviledge and Justice

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