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Man Tells How He Killed U-Haul Heir

November 24, 1994 GMT

MONTROSE, Colo. (AP) _ A man convicted of killing an heiress to the U-Haul trailer empire told a hushed courtroom Wednesday that he panicked during a bungled burglary and never meant to shoot the woman.

Frank Marquis said he even considered calling 911 after his .25-caliber pistol went off in a struggle with Eva Shoen in her mountain cabin in August 1990.

Marquis, 40, a former used car salesman from Sante Fe, N.M., was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in prison for second-degree burglary and reckless manslaughter. Murder charges against him were dropped Oct. 27 in a plea agreement.


Mrs. Shoen was the wife of Sam Shoen, an heir to the $1.6 billion U-Haul trailer business founded by his father, L.S. Shoen. Sam Shoen was not at home the night of the slaying; the couple’s two children were asleep.

Marquis described the shooting during an unusual sentencing hearing at which he answered all questions from prosecutors as part of his plea-bargain. Sam Shoen did not attend the hearing before Montrose District Judge Robert A. Brown.

Marquis said he had gone to Telluride in southwestern Colorado for the summer jazz festival and was hoping most residents wouldn’t be home.

After he broke into the Shoen cabin, Mrs. Shoen came at him from an upstairs bedroom and shouted ″Get out 3/8″

″I was panicked. ... I pushed her down and that’s when the gun went off,″ the soft-spoken Marquis said.

He froze while she went past him toward the door, collapsing on the stairs. ″I thought about (calling 911) ... but I heard her last breath and I just knew she was dead.

″I’ve thought of taking my life. It wouldn’t bring her back. ... I hope it’ll bring their family closer together,″ Marquis said.

The killing further inflamed the battle between the family factions fighting to control U-Haul.

Shoen brothers Joe and Mark are suing their father for libel for allegedly telling reporters they were involved in Mrs. Shoen’s death, perhaps in a bungled attempt to kill her husband.

Last month, L.S. Shoen and his supporters won a $1.47 billion judgment against Joe and Mark Shoen over a thwarted deal to sell the company in 1988.

After the hearing, Mark Shoen, president of U-Haul, said if the other Shoen faction wants to end the family feud, ″I will extend my hand to these people.″

Police arrested Marquis in July 1993 with a tip from his brother-in-law, who had seen the the TV show ″Unsolved Mysteries.″