She Wanted It All : A True Story of Sex, Murder, and a Texas Millionaire

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  • Format: Paperback
  • Copyright: 2013-02-04
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications
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Casey pens the shocking account of a lethal Texas love triangle and trophy wife Celeste Beard's twisted scheme to get her lesbian lover to kill her wealthy media-mogul husband. photos. Original.


She Wanted It All
A True Story of Sex, Murder, and a Texas Millionaire


West of Austin, Texas, the earth surges upward from the coastal plain to form steep hills, and Glen Rose limestone tears jagged edges through a lush, deep green landscape. One hundred million years ago, during the Cretaceous Period when dinosaurs roamed, this part of Texas lay at the banks of a great shallow sea. When it retreated, a fierce wave wrenched the plains from the hills, birthing the Balcones, a fault line that remains hidden deep within the earth.

The Tonkawa Indians once claimed this land as their hunting grounds, harvesting the abundant deer. Gold Rushers were among the first white settlers, Carolina mountain folk whose broken wagons convinced them to abandon dreams of California fortunes. The land too rough to farm, they raised livestock, sheep and goats, intermarried and fostered bloody feuds. Later bootleggers hid stills in the thick woods atop remote hills.

Settlement proceeded slowly in the hills, the inhospitable terrain convincing many to root instead in the valleys below. Eventually roads and electricity came. Then, in 1953, the town incorporated. Residents paid a mere $4.50 an acre in Westlake Hills. By the 1990s, when panoramic views convinced the well-off to spend up to millions to build hillside estates, the history of the land retained little use other than cocktail-party prattle.

By then some called Westlake "Lexusland." Others dubbed it "Austin's Hollywood Hills." The name fit; the landscape resembled the stony cliffs over Hollywood and housed celebrities, including movie stars Sandra Bullock and Matthew McConaughey.

Even in such imposing company, the house at 3900 Toro Canyon Road held its own. At the request of its owner, Steven Beard Jr., a founder of what became Austin's CBS affiliate, the architect sought inspiration from the Frank LloydWright masterpiece Fallingwater.

A gentle creek ran beneath the house, and plump koi swam about a man-made pond. Three flights of stairs trimmed in black-granite diamonds led to heavy leadedglass front doors that opened to a vast living room, replete with costly antiques and the best furnishings money could buy. From there, the house fanned back toward two bedroom wings, to the left the master and to the right the children's rooms. From nearly every room, windows overlooked a pool that glistened like black satin in the moonlight.

Just before three on the morning of October 2, 1999, all was quiet on Toro Canyon. Deer circulated peacefully through the surrounding woods, chewing on ragged tree bark and feasting on tall grasses. The only disturbances were the static buzz of insects, the rustling of squirrels, and the sporadic churning of scattered air conditioners, on a still warm fall night. In another month the leaves would turn gold and brown, but on this night lush green foliage muffled the crack of a single gunshot.

Inside her bedroom, at the backof the children's wing, eighteen-year-old Kristina Beard woke, without knowing why.A sound sleeper, she rarely stirred before morning, and as her eyes adjusted, an uneasy feeling engulfed her. All was not well. Lights flickered across the walls, white and blue. As her vision cleared, Kristina brushed her darkblond hair from her eyes and made out the form of a woman standing inside her bedroom door, staring out into the shadowy hallway.

"Mom," said Kristina, her voice hoarse with sleep.

"What's wrong?"

First only silence, then Celeste Beard finally said, "I think it's the police."

Rising, Kristina joined her mother's vigil at the door. Peering out at the silent house, the teenager saw nothing out of the ordinary, only the unrelenting lights that whipped through the darkness. Kristina's twin sister, Jennifer, had stayed at the family lake house with friends. The only other person in the house was their adopted father, Steve Beard. An involuntary shudder ran through the teenager as she wondered who waited outside their front door and why.

"Are you sure it's the police?" she asked.

"I think so," Celeste said, but before Kristina realized it was happening, her mother pushed her into the hallway. "Find out what they want," she ordered.

The frightened teenager panicked. What if the intruders weren't police? What if someone had broken in? She darted into Jennifer's empty bedroom and dialed 911.

"It's EMS," the operator said. "Your father has a medical emergency."

"Mom, something's wrong with Dad," Kristina shouted, her heart racing as she ran toward the front door to unlock it for the ambulance crew, wanting them to reach her father as quickly as possible. Once there, she realized help was already inside, as a deputy emerged from the master-bedroom wing.

"Your father's in rough shape," he said. "We've called STAR Flight to transport him to the hospital."

"What's wrong?" Kristina asked. Steve had been her father for four years, and he'd given her and Jennifer much. More important than wealth, he offered love and stability.

"Has he had surgery recently?" the deputy asked. "His stomach is torn wide open."

"No," Kristina said as her mother ran into the room.

Moments earlier, Celeste had been dead calm. Now she shrieked, "What's wrong with my husband? What's wrong?"

The deputy did a double take. Kristina was used to his reaction. At seventy-four, Steve was nearly old enough to be her mother's grandfather. Strangers often looked twice at the couple. "We're helicoptering him to Brackenridge Hospital," he said. "You'll be taken there, too, in a squad car."

Not waiting for the conversation to ebb, Kristina hurried to the master bedroom to see her father. Hours earlier, when she'd looked in on him before bed, he slept peacefully. Now the sight of him made her feel ill, as EMS workers struggled to bind gaping wounds in his corpulent abdomen. His intestines spilled out onto the blood-splattered sheets. Kristina couldn't get close but she shouted, "Dad, they're going to take you to the hospital. You're going to be all right. We all love you. I love you."

Pale and weak, her father nodded.

"Is your mother all right?" he asked.

"Yes, she's fine," Kristina said, holding back tears. "Don't worry. Just get better."

In great pain, he smiled and nodded again, obviously relieved.

The longer the medics worked on her father, the more Kristina worried. Even after the helicopter hovered over the house and drifted down to the road, they feared moving him. The wait felt like hours as she circulated between her sobbing mother and her critically injured father. On her third trip out of the master bedroom, she heard something that stunned her and she spun back into the room.

"I've found a shotgun shell," a deputy had said. "He's been shot."

"What?" Kristina shouted.

Later the EMS workers and deputies would talk about Kristina, how she, of the two women, remained calm, comforting both her parents as the horror of what had happened became apparent. In the darkness, someone had entered their home, raised a shotgun, aimed and fired directly into her father's ample belly. Then the intruder fled, leaving him for dead. Only sheer will kept him alive long enough to call for help.

The medical emergency now a potential murder investigation, Kristina and Celeste were surrounded as squads of police cars arrived. Throughout the chaos, the daughter comforted the mother, caring for her as if she were the parent.

After the helicopter with Steve inside finally ascended into the darkness, an officer put the two women in the back of a squad car and sped down the hillside and onto the highway that led into the brightly lit streets ofAustin.

By the time they arrived at the emergency room, Steve Beard had been wheeled on a gurney into surgery. His prospects weren't good. "We don't think he'll survive the night," a doctor told them.

Celeste sobbed as Kristina held her tight. Minutes later in the hospital's austere family waiting room, Kristina realized that for the first time since she'd awoken to flashing lights and a deep sense of foreboding, she was alone with her mother. Suddenly, Celeste stopped crying. Her blue eyes narrowed as she focused intently on her young daughter.

"Kristina, the police are going to ask who could have done this," she said, her voice grave. "No matter what, don't mention Tracey's name."

She Wanted It All
A True Story of Sex, Murder, and a Texas Millionaire
. Copyright © by Kathryn Casey. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from She Wanted It All: A True Story of Sex, Murder, and a Texas Millionaire by Kathryn Casey
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

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