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Son Criticized Actress Mercedes McCambridge Before Suicide, Killings

April 18, 1989 GMT

LITTLE ROCK (AP) _ The son of Mercedes McCambridge left the actress a plaintive letter before he killed his family and committed suicide, telling her ″you have never been there for me″ and saying she called him a ″snivelling wimp.″

Copies of John Markle’s letter, his diary and other writings became part of the police file and were made public Monday by the state Supreme Court after it rejected Ms. McCambridge’s petition to keep them from being disclosed.

Under Arkansas’ Freedom of Information Law, police files become public record when cases are closed.

Markle, 45, killed himself and his family in their Little Rock home Nov. 16, 1987, after being fired from the Stephens Inc. brokerage house for charging losses to the firm and gains to his mother’s account, which he handled, police said.

In the 13-page letter, dated October 1987, Markle exonerated his mother in regard to the trading scheme, but complained of her treatment of him.

″I was essentially raised by live-in maids and relatives. ... I was conceptualized to save a bad marriage. ... I watch you try to kill yourself twice. You have never been there for me when the chips were down,″ the letter said.

″When I cried on the phone you called me a ‘sniveling wimp’ that was weakening his position,″ the letter said.

Ms. McCambridge’s lawyer declined to comment and said Ms. McCambridge ″is not available for comment at this time.″

In his diary, Markle mentioned his moods and thought in terms of relying on God: ″Anxious about all this now. ... Uncertain today. I awoke at 5:30 and was scared. I turned it over to God and went back to sleep until 6:30 to take Suz to school.″ Suz was his daughter, Suzanne.

On Oct. 27, 1987, he expressed concern for his family: ″None of these people deserve me. I have put all of their futures in jeopardy. My relationship with my mother has been destroyed. I fear I have placed my family at considerable financial risk, i.e., I am broke and they my children have no inheritance left because of my action. Christine says I have put the family last and I have. There really is only one choice now.″ Christine was his wife.

Nov. 8: After being stopped by a policeman for speeding and not getting a ticket, Markle wrote, ″I had a real sense that God had intervened and that perhaps that was a sign of something. That p.m. I was pretty low and just turned it over to God. That seemed to work.″

On Nov. 10: ″I know I have done wrong by my stealing and the contempt I have for the system. I am sorry for all the pain it has inflicted on my wife and children.″

Nov. 11: ″God give me the sign. More and more I am just giving it over to God when I get scared.″

The letter said that Markle’s problems at Stephens worsened when his mother sent telegrams telling Stephens officials she hadn’t known what Markle was doing with her account. He wrote: ″I wished you’d never done a lot of things you did. Night mother.″

Ms. McCambridge appeared in the Pulitzer Prize-winning play named ″ ’Night Mother.″ In that play, the mother’s daughter committed suicide.

There were brief references to other Hollywood names. In one, Markle said Ms. McCambridge was on location in Arizona for the movie ″Johnnie Guitar″ when she ″and Joan Crawford were both drinking and fighting like hell″ in some incident. He mentioned ″Sterling Hayden physically separating you after Joan had thrown a gin bottle at you.″

The letter’s last page included this: ″Is this clear to you? That you have hurt every member of my family. That you have hurt me; that I stood by you under some really adverse conditions and that you have never done anything but manipulate me for your purposes.″