Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

The Fatal Attraction Murder Case

The Deadly Phone Call

Linda Viana (AP)
Linda Viana
(AP)

"He's killing me!" the voice said on the other end of the line. These were the words of the January 15, 1989, phone call made at 7:15 p.m. from the Solomon residence to New York telephone operator, Linda Viana. When she testified she said that she was unable to state positively that the first word the caller mentioned was "she" or "he." At face value, it seemed to be the dying words of a murdered woman who was making a last second call for help. But was it? Constantino had a very different interpretation. "There was a lot of talk during the investigation about who actually made that call," he recently said.

The facts are clear. The call was made from Betty Jeanne's phone at 7:15 p.m. The phone was located in the dining area of the apartment and was found disconnected, not forcibly pulled out of the wall jack. Police found the phone lying on the floor near the dining table. Bette Jeanne's body, which had nine bullet wounds, was found in the living room and there was blood on the carpet both under and near the body. But there was no blood where the phone was located as McCarty pointed out in his summation to the jury: "Think about it ladies and gentlemen, the blood is all located where her body was found near the vicinity of the couch, near the vicinity of the stereo." If Betty Jeanne had made that call, presumably while she was being assaulted, would there be blood present by the phone? And she would have to make the call while she was being shot because she said "he is killing me" in the present tense. How likely was it that a person who was in the process of being shot would take the time to make a phone call? And the phone was a rotary dial, not push button. Betty Jeanne would have to dial the 911 using precious seconds while the killer is pointing a gun at her.

But why would the killer take the time to call the police?

At first glance, it would seem unlikely, but closer analysis reveals a very convincing motive. "By calling the police and saying those words, "He's killing me!" the killer, if we assume it was Carolyn, immediately provides Paul Solomon with an alibi," said a source close to the investigation recently. Warmus did not want to send Paul Solomon to prison for the murder. She knew that he was at the bowling alley or the Treetops restaurant because they had talked about it earlier that day. He therefore had a solid alibi at the time of the killing. Warmus wanted the police to know exactly the time of the shooting so that Solomon could have witnesses who saw him somewhere else. And by saying the words "he's killing me," she has the added benefit of casting suspicion away from herself.

"We believed that it was Carolyn who made that call," said Constantino. A lot of people agreed with that assessment. But there was no proof.

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