Marriage, Money and Murder: Steven and Celeste Beard
She began to refer to Beard as "the fat bastard" or "the old fool," according to her daughters and friends.
More than once, people heard her say with exasperation, "Why doesn't he just die already!"
Celeste began spending more and more time at a weekend house Beard owned on the Pedernales River, 40 miles northwest of Austin.
She also rekindled an old flameex-husband Jimmy (BMW) Martinez.
Her daughters would later reveal that Celeste often slipped out of the house when Steven went to bed at 9:30. Sometimes, they said, she would hasten his bedtime by spiking his food or drinks with pulverized sleeping pills.
After the old man conked out, she would steal away to meet Martinez or party with her favorite drinking buddy, beauty salon receptionist Donna Goodson.
But Beard finally got wise. He confronted Celeste after New Year's in 1999 about her out-of-control spending and trysts with Martinez. He hinted at divorce.
After five years of a champagne-and-diamonds lifestyle, Celeste could not fathom regressing to her old selfthe car-torching, plate-carrying Celeste. Even her prenup nest egg had evaporated.
She threatened suicide and was packed off to St. David's Pavilion for mental health treatment.
Her daughters judged that she was play-acting "to get what she wanted," as Kristina put it.
What she wanted was money unencumbered by marriage to Beard.
At St. David's, she took a foolish first step toward getting her wish.