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Carolyn WARMUS






The "Fatal Attraction" Murder
Classification: Murderer
Characteristics: Jealousy
Number of victims: 1
Date of murder: January 15, 1989
Date of arrest: February 2, 1990
Date of birth: January 8, 1964
Victim profile: Betty Jeanne Solomon, 40 (her lover's wife)
Method of murder: Shooting (.25 caliber Beretta pistol)
Location: Greenburgh, Westchester County, New York, USA
Status: Sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on June 26, 1992
photo gallery

Carolyn Warmus (born January 8, 1964) is serving a 25-year-to-life sentence for the murder of her lover's wife. The murder case attracted national attention and led to comparisons with the movie Fatal Attraction.

Early life

Carolyn Warmus was born in Troy, Michigan and grew up in Birmingham, Michigan, an affluent suburb of Detroit. Her father Tom was a self-made millionaire who accumulated his fortune in the insurance business. Her parents divorced when she was 8-years-old. She attended the University of Michigan, where she drifted into a series of unsuccessful romantic relationships. There was an element of obsessive behavior in her dealings with men. Warmus had a history of stalking boyfriends and hiring private detectives to determine their whereabouts. One of her former boyfriends, Paul Laven, obtained a restraining order against her after Warmus waged a relentless campaign to win him back. She called him and his fiancee and left messages on their answering machine, contacted their friends, and deluged them with notes, including one that falsely claimed Warmus was pregnant with Laven's child.

After graduating with a degree in psychology, Warmus moved to New York City. She hired a private detective, Vincent Parco, to trail a married New Jersey bartender when he lost interest in her. Soon after, she earned a master's degree in elementary education from Teachers College, Columbia University and landed a job in September 1987 at the Greenville Elementary in Scarsdale, New York. Here she met colleague, mentor, and soon-to-be lover Paul Solomon, a fifth grade teacher, and his family, wife Betty Jeanne and daughter Kristan. Carolyn became a role model and big sister to Kristan and she would buy her expensive gifts.

Crime and investigation

Early in the evening of January 15, 1989, a New York Telephone operator received a call from a woman in distress. When the call was abruptly disconnected, she alerted police, but they found nothing because the reverse directory had an incorrect address.

At 11:42pm, the body of Betty Jeanne Solomon was found in the family's Greenburgh condominium by her husband. She had been pistol-whipped about the head and had nine bullet wounds in her back and legs.

The investigation initially focused on Paul Solomon, whose alibi was he had stopped briefly at a local bowling alley to see friends and then had spent the evening with Warmus at the Treetops Lounge in the Holiday Inn in Yonkers. When Warmus and additional witnesses confirmed his story, detectives turned their attention elsewhere, as did Solomon, who broke off his relationship with Warmus and became involved with a new girlfriend, Barbara Ballor.

Police suspicions shifted to Warmus when she began to relentlessly pursue Solomon, including following him and Ballor to Puerto Rico and calling the woman's family in an effort to end the relationship. When they gained information that Warmus had obtained a .25 caliber Beretta pistol with a silencer from Vincent Parco shortly before the murder, Detective Richard Constantino checked calls made from Warmus' home phone on January 15. He discovered one made at 3:02pm was to Ray’s Sport Shop in North Plainfield, New Jersey.

The store's records indicated the only female to purchase .25-caliber ammunition that day was Liisa Kattai from Long Island. When questioned, Kattai denied ever being in the shop or buying ammunition. Further investigation determined that Kattai's driver's license had been lost or stolen while she was employed at a summer job, where one of her co-workers was Warmus. Police now had enough evidence to make an arrest.

Trial and conviction

Warmus was indicted on the charge of second-degree murder on February 2, 1990. Carolyn made her $250,000 bail and her father paid for her bond. Carolyn's trial was held at the Westchester County Courthouse and David Lewis was her attorney.

The trial dragged on as piece after piece of testimony, evidence, and speculation were closely scrutinized by the jury. Twelve days after the prosecutor and defense gave their closing statements, the jury announced they were hopelessly deadlocked at 8-4 in favor of conviction and unable to arrive at a unanimous verdict. The judge was forced to declare a mistrial on April 27, 1991.

In January 1992, a second trial began. The new jury was able to gain better insight into who could have committed the murder with the introduction of a new piece of evidence. A bloody cashmere glove belonging to Warmus that had been spotted in a photograph of the brutal crime scene was recovered, and this would decide her fate.

At the end of this trial, the jury took six days to decide Warmus was guilty on May 26, 1992. Judge John Carey did not grant Warmus any leniency, saying she had committed "a hideous act, a most extreme, illegal and wanton murder." Warmus faced a minimum of 15 years, but Judge Carey sentenced her to the maximum, 25 years to life in prison.


The former heiress now sits behind bars at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility for Women. She is eligible for parole in 2017. If she had been given the minimum sentence of 15 years in prison, she would have been paroled in 2007.


In 2004, Warmus and inmate Pamela Smart filed separate lawsuits claiming to have been sexually abused by prison guards. Warmus stated that when she tried to complain about the abuse she was punished in protective custody, as well as being made to trade sexual favors for ordinary privileges. Pamela Smart claims she was attacked by a guard who took photos of her half-naked in her cell at Bedford Hills. Smart stated that when she complained about the rape she was placed in around-the-clock lockdown for 70 days. Prison officials said Smart was put into protective custody to safeguard her after the photos were published by the National Enquirer and she complained about the assault.

Warmus received a $10,000 settlement from the Department of Correctional Services, for her claims that she was sexually abused and deprived of rights at Bedford Hills Correctional Facility. She claimed that she was forced to have sex with the corrections officers if she wanted time out of her cell.

In popular culture

Two television movies about the case aired in the latter part of 1992. The Danger of Love: The Carolyn Warmus Story starred Jenny Robertson as Warmus and Joe Penny as the Paul Solomon character, rechristened Michael Carlin because Solomon refused to allow the use of his name. He did cooperate with the makers of A Murderous Affair: The Carolyn Warmus Story, which starred Virginia Madsen as Warmus and Chris Sarandon as Solomon.

In 2004, Warmus was profiled on the Oxygen Network television series Snapped, which focuses on female criminals. In 2008, Warmus was featured on the Investigation Discovery (ID) program Deadly Women in the episode Hearts of Darkness. In addition, the murder, investigation and trial was shown on another ID series, entitled Cold Blood, in the episode Femme Fatale, also in 2008.


An 'Obsession,' a Tangled Life and a Killing

By Lisa W. Foderaro - The New York Times

February 13, 1990

Carolyn Warmus, the 26-year-old woman accused of murdering her former lover's wife, came of age in a wealthy Detroit suburb, earned degrees from well-known universities and went on to teach in Westchester County elementary schools. One neighbor summed up her personality: ''She's the kind of girl you want to bring home to Mom.''

Yet beneath the professional competence and social finesse, Ms. Warmus, who has pleaded not guilty in the fatal shooting of Betty Jeanne Solomon, had a history of romantic involvements that led her beyond the bounds of accepted behavior, according to court records and investigators.

Her preoccupation with men over the years - two of whom were married and one of whom was engaged - prompted a number of acts said to range from breaking into the apartment of a former boyfriend when she was 20, to flying to Puerto Rico to track down Mrs. Solomon's husband, Paul, five months after the killing of his 40-year-old wife.

The police say Ms. Warmus's ''obsession'' with Mr. Solomon, 40, a fellow teacher who became her lover, and her desire to intensify the relationship, motivated her to fire nine bullets at close range at Mrs. Solomon the evening of Jan. 15, 1989. Shortly after that, Ms. Warmus met Mr. Solomon for drinks at a Holiday Inn in Yonkers, where she said they later had sex in her car.

Investigators say that they initially suspected Mr. Solomon, but that their focus began to shift to Ms. Warmus as she sought to continue their relationship. Last summer, as Mr. Solomon continued to rebuff her overtures, she suffered what was believed to be a nervous breakdown.

The police dispatched an ambulance on Aug. 8 to the Manhattan building where she lives, at 1485 First Avenue, near 78th Street, on the Upper East Side, after neighbors reported an emotionally disturbed person there, and she was admitted to Metropolitan Hospital's psychiatric ward for seven days.

Ms. Warmus was indicted on Feb. 2 on second-degree murder and weapons-possession charges and is now free on $250,000 bail. At some point she is to return to work in the Byram Hills school district in Armonk, where she teaches computer science, but she is to be given administrative duties, school officials say.

Mr. Solomon met Ms. Warmus in 1987 at the Greenville Elementary School in Greenburgh, where they were colleagues. He still teaches there, though he is on temporary leave. Their relationship continued after Ms. Warmus left in 1988 to take a job with the Pleasantville school district.

Ms. Warmus's lawyer, Charles G. Fiore, contends that she is the victim of a ''setup,'' but he will not elaborate. As for her relationships with men in the past, he said, ''I have no comment on the things about my client's personal life, and even if true, they aren't relevant to the issue of guilt or innocence in this case.''

Ms. Warmus's parents, Thomas and Elizabeth, were divorced during her childhood. Her father, a wealthy insurance executive, remarried and lives in a six-bedroom house on five acres rimmed by wrought-iron fencing in Franklin, Mich., an exclusive suburb.

Ms. Warmus's mother lives in Pleasant Valley, N.Y., which is in Dutchess County.

A Diligent Student

According to interviews with former classmates and acquaintances, as a teen-ager Ms. Warmus was liked well enough by other students at Seaholm High School in Birmingham, Mich., who considered her kind and diligent, but she did not stand out academically or socially.

Instead, she was overshadowed by her younger sister, Tracy, both in looks and popularity. ''Tracy always used to have the parties,'' one classmate said, ''and Carolyn's friends would come.''

In 1983, while a sophomore at the University of Michigan, she dated a teaching assistant, Paul Laven, for several months. But in December 1983 he broke off relations with her and started dating another student, to whom he soon became engaged.

Two weeks before the couple's wedding in July 1984, they obtained a temporary restraining order, prohibiting Ms. Warmus from coming near them. Records from the Oakland County Courthouse showed that the couple feared that Ms. Warmus would disrupt their wedding ceremony or the reception.

According to those records, Ms. Warmus obtained the couple's unpublished telephone number on April 6 of that year ''through subterfuge'' from a Michigan Bell employee. Four days later, the complaint said, she entered the couple's apartment against their will, and the police had to remove her. It said Ms. Warmus also harassed Mr. Laven at his office, the complaint said.

'Start Worrying' Again

In one undated note left for Mr. Laven's fiancee, Ms. Warmus began, ''I really hope you enjoyed this past week of not being bothered by me, because now that I'm back from vacation you can start worrying all over again.''

After the wedding, a judge signed a permanent order stating that Ms. Warmus is ''forever restrained and enjoined from communicating with the plaintiffs'' and from interfering with their ''rights to travel'' and ''rights of privacy.''

At some point after leaving Michigan in 1985 but before meeting Mr. Solomon in the fall of 1987, Ms. Warmus began dating a married bartender who lived in New Jersey, her lawyer said.

During the short-lived affair, she contacted Vincent Parco, a Manhattan private investigator, and asked him to investigate the bartender.

The Greenburgh police, who led the murder investigation since the Solomons lived in Greenburgh, say that only days before the murder, Mr. Parco sold her the .25-caliber weapon, silencer and ammunition used in the shooting. The police said Ms. Warmus had ''developed a relationship'' with Mr. Parco and his associates.

It is not clear whether Mr. Parco was given full or partial immunity for cooperating with investigators. Investigators have declined to comment on the subject. To date, Mr. Parco has not been charged with providing the silencer, though it is illegal to make, sell or use silencers.

A 'Precautionary' Measure

Ms. Warmus's lawyer, Mr. Fiore, last week announced the results of a lie-detector test taken by Ms. Warmus five days after the shooting. The test was taken, he said, strictly as a ''precautionary'' measure at the suggestion of her father's lawyer.

The polygraph, he said, recorded truthful responses when Ms. Warmus denied murdering Mrs. Solomon and when she denied that she was in the apartment at the time of the murder.

''Then she was asked if she knew anything, if she was protecting anyone, and again she said, 'No,' and that got a 'possibility of deception' '' from the polygraph, Mr. Fiore said.

The results of a lie-detector test are not admissible as evidence in court.

The most recent episode on Ms. Warmus's part occurred early last summer, investigators said, when she followed Mr. Solomon to Puerto Rico, unaware that he had gone there with another woman, a fellow teacher at the Greenville Elementary School. On his lawyer's advice, Mr. Solomon had severed all ties with Ms. Warmus right after the murder.

Investigators say Ms. Warmus telephoned the woman's family from Puerto Rico and, posing as a policewoman, urged a member of her family to try to break up the relationship between her and Mr. Solomon.

Protection Order

Upon returning from Puerto Rico, the woman tried to obtain a court order of protection against Ms. Warmus, eventually receiving one, investigators said.

Several neighbors who were unaware of Ms. Warmus's emotional breakdown last August said she always appeared pleasant and normal.

''Everybody liked her in the building,'' said Steven DiManni, an advertising executive who said he had dined with Ms. Warmus a couple of times. ''She's nice, bright, pretty, charming -a perfect lady. She never caused any problems whatsoever.''

A next-door neighbor, who requested anonymity, agreed. ''She is a quiet person, very pleasant,'' she said. ''This was not a wild person in any way."

From School to School

In her professional life, Ms. Warmus changed from school to school because in Greenburgh and Pleasantville she had been hired as a temporary replacement for teachers on maternity leave.

As personnel director for the Byram Hills district, Dr. Linda S. Ochser hired Ms. Warmus without reservation for a teaching job at the Colman Hills Elementary School.

Dr. Ochser said she was particularly impressed by Ms. Warmus's academic credentials, including a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and a master's in curriculum and teaching from Teachers College at Columbia University.

''In our interview process, which is an extensive one, she appeared to be an outstanding candidate,'' said Dr. Ochser, who is now in charge of personnel for the White Plains school system. ''We always check references, and what I can recall is that they were all outstanding. She was just a very vivacious, upbeat teacher."


The "Fatal Attraction" Murder

Even before the facts were known in detail, journalists as well as the police had decided that the case of Carolyn Warmus showed that Nature was up to her old trick of imitating Art. Within days of Warmus's indictment in February 1990 for the murder of her lover's wife, Betty Jeanne Solomon, a year before, the press labeled the prosecution a real-life "Fatal Attraction" case, identifying the defendant with the character played frighteningly by Glenn Close in the popular 1987 movie that happened to have been filmed in Westchester County, to the north of New York City, where Mrs. Solomon was killed. In the view of New York Times film critic Caryn James, it was "safe to guess that Glenn Close made Carolyn Warmus the celebrity she is today."

The parallel that reporters drew between the murder of Betty Jeanne Solomon and the "Fatal Attraction" film was hard to resist, because the police and the prosecution shaped the image of blonde Carolyn Warmus as a woman obsessed with her former lover, Paul Solomon, who had wanted the freedom to move on to other infidelities. The police investigators released stories that Warmus had, since her college years, established a pattern of pursuing married or unavailable men.

The daughter of a wealthy insurance executive, Warmus grew up in suburban Detroit and received her undergraduate degree in psychology from the University of Michigan. Her classmates recalled that she took her dates with Paul Laven, a pre-med teaching assistant, so seriously that she became a convert to his religion, Judaism.

When, however, Laven broke off the relationship and became engaged to another woman, Warmus undertook a relentless campaign to win him back. She called the couple and left long messages on their answering machine, annoyed their friends, and deluged them with notes. One message, left on the windshield of Laven's car, falsely claimed that Carolyn was pregnant and begged him to call her. Another, sent to Laven's fiancee and filled with misspellings to disguise Warmus's authorship, insisted that the woman stood no chance of competing with Carolyn's more voluptuous figure and newly-acquired tan. Finally, the couple were forced to obtain a restraining order against their persecutor in a Michigan court to ensure that she would not attempt to ruin their wedding.

After her college graduation, Carolyn Warmus moved to New York City, where she earned a master's degree in education from Teacher's College at Columbia University and went on to serve as a substitute in school districts of Westchester County for teachers who were on maternity leaves. In the New York area the skein of romantic fixations that had begun back home in Michigan continued to lengthen. She hired a private detective, Vincent Parco, to trail a married New Jersey bartender whose affection for her had slackened.

Together, she and Parco devised the idea of superimposing photographs of Warmus in sexy poses upon pictures of the bartender, apparently with the intention of mailing the resulting montages to his wife. Parco was just the man for such a deception, since he taught a Learning Annex course to aspiring snoops, entitled "How to Get Anything on Anybody." Inculcating the priceless lessons of his craft in classes held on the premises of Manhattan's swanky Birch Wathen School, Parco taught his students how to hide a video camera in a purse or a looseleaf notebook, and how to obtain unlisted telephone numbers by consulting reverse directories or examining registration records at the Board of Elections.

The collaboration of Warmus with Parco was a blending of kindred spirits, because the young teacher was herself adept in fraud and forgery. She successfully carried off her first swindle after graduation from college, when she was working as a waitress at the Jukebox, a popular 1950s-style dance club in Royal Oak, Michigan. The club manager, Debbie Mullins, explained to a Newsday reporter how Warmus's scheme was accomplished:

Warmus was accused of running credit cards through an imprinting machine two or three times, using one imprint for the credit card customer and the others for customers who would pay in cash. Warmus . . . would then pocket the cash she collected rather than put it into the till. Federal agents were brought in to investigate, but they could not find enough evidence to bring charges against her.

Several years later, Carolyn again had recourse to forgery, this time to establish an alibi as a defense to a damage claim. In 1987, a woman identifying herself as Carolyn Warmus was involved in an automobile accident. Subsequently, Warmus wrote to the other driver involved, stating that she had been chaperoning a school trip in Washington on the day of the accident and offering as proof a letter signed by a school official, Dr. Richard Sprague. Later Sprague denied both that he had written the letter and that Warmus had attended the class trip to which she had referred.

In September 1987 Carolyn Warmus, then twenty-three, met Paul Solomon, who was thirty-eight, when she began teaching at the Greenville School in the Edgemont School District in Greenburgh, Westchester County; she later moved on to the Byram Hills School District in nearby Armonk, where she taught computer science, but Solomon remained at the Greenville School. Betty Jeanne Solomon, Paul's wife, was an account executive with the Continental Credit Corporation in Harrison, New York, and she and her husband lived with their daughter Kristan (thirteen years old in 1987) in a condominium on South Central Avenue in Greenburgh. The marriage bond between the Solomons was apparently not very strong; Paul admits to having had two brief affairs before meeting Carolyn Warmus, and he suspected Betty Jeanne of carrying on a relationship of several years with her former boss.

Some months after their first meeting, Carolyn Warmus and Paul Solomon embarked on an affair which featured sexual encounters in her apartment above the comedy club "Catch a Rising Star" on Manhattan's east side, as well as in hotel rooms and Warmus's car. Doing her best to keep the liaison a secret, Warmus took on the role of a friend of the whole Solomon family, showering Kristan with gifts and taking her on a skiing trip.

It was on this excursion that Warmus confessed to the teenager a fear that Betty Jeanne Solomon did not like her very much. Kristan tried to persuade her to the contrary, but "deep down" she knew that Warmus's concern was well-founded. In August 1988, when Paul Solomon had briefly stopped seeing her, Warmus confided to a college friend, Ryan Attenson, of Southfield Michigan, that her relationship was not "progressing in a manner with which she was comfortable"; she spoke of her desire to engage a private investigator to prove to her errant lover that his wife was cheating on him.

Shortly before midnight on Sunday evening, January 15, 1989, police in Greenburgh received a call from Paul Solomon, who had returned home to find his wife murdered. Betty Jeanne was lying on the living-room floor; she had been pistol-whipped about the head and had nine bullet wounds in her back and legs. None of the neighbors had heard the shots, there was no sign of forced entry, and the only indication of a struggle was a disconnected telephone; police photographed a black woolen glove near the corpse.

At first, the investigation focused on Paul Solomon. After initially telling Greenburgh detectives that he had spent the evening bowling near his home, he admitted that he had stopped only briefly at the bowling alley and had spent the evening with Carolyn Warmus at the Holiday Inn in Yonkers, New York. After drinks in the motel's Treetops Lounge, followed by hamburgers, french fries and some oysters, the couple had repaired to Warmus's red Hyundai car, in which, as she later told the police, they performed a sex act; Carolyn specified in her statement that during their lovemaking she occupied the driver's seat. Witnesses came forward to confirm that they had seen Solomon at the bowling alley and later in Warmus's company at the Holiday Inn.

After some months, police suspicions shifted from Solomon to Warmus. One of the reasons for heightened interest in Carolyn was evidence of her relentless pursuit of Paul Solomon after the murder.

In June 1989, after Solomon broke off his relations with Warmus, she followed him to Puerto Rico, where he was vacationing with a new girlfriend, Barbara Ballor. Posing as a police officer, she called Ballor's family from the island, urging them to end the romance. An even more startling development in the investigation was receipt of a tip that in early January 1989, shortly before the murder, Carolyn had purchased from private-eye Vincent Parco a handgun equipped with a silencer.

On February 2, 1989 Carolyn Warmus was indicted for second-degree murder and the possession of an unregistered firearm. Six months later, however, the indictment was dismissed by Judge John Carey, on the ground that the state had not disclosed to the grand jury the fact that Vincent Parco had been granted immunity from prosecution in exchange for his agreement to testify about his sale of the pistol to Warmus.

The prosecutors promptly obtained a fresh indictment, and the widely heralded "Fatal Attraction" trial of Carolyn Warmus opened on Thursday, February 14, 1991, in Westchester County Courthouse, where headmistress Jean S. Harris of Madeira School had been convicted of murdering Dr. Herman Tarnower a decade earlier.

The prosecution team was headed by thirty-eight-year-old Assistant District Attorney James A. McCarty, and David L. Lewis defended Carolyn Warmus. Lewis was president of the New York Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and a director of the National Association of Criminal Lawyers; he had acted as a trial lawyer for the former Panamanian dictator, General Manuel Noriega, and was accustomed to trying cases in the limelight. Judge John Carey presided; and a jury of eight women and four men was selected. The jurors scanned with understandable interest the features of the celebrated defendant, whose appearance was described by the Newsday reporter with a mixture of attentive observation and prurient imaginings:

Her thick blonde hair is cut in a neat, chin-length chop. Just enough makeup coats her milky-white skin to hide a large crop of freckles. It is easy to imagine her long legs, hidden by a modest black skirt, in the gym shorts and sneakers of her athletic, teenage years. But then the smile is oddly cut short by a hard blink of her eyes and a quick, convulsive grimace. It is a startling, spasmodic reaction, almost a nervous tic -- and it periodically breaks on the smooth planes of Carolyn Warmus's face. Her apparent confidence is gone for an instant, and in its place one sees a flash of the troubled history that has been so widely reported in the media since she was indicted a year ago.

In his opening statement, prosecutor McCarty told the jury that Warmus was driven by a "consuming desire to possess" Paul Solomon. The evidence was circumstantial but, "like pieces of a puzzle . . . would reveal a clear picture of the killer of Betty Jeanne Solomon: the defendant, Carolyn Warmus."

The proof would include testimony from private investigator Parco, who had sold Warmus a gun and silencer, as well as telephone company records of a call on the day of the slaying made from the defendant's apartment to a gunshop where she later bought bullets, using as false identification a driver's licence that she had stolen from a secretary in an office where Warmus worked in the summer of 1988.

The Solomons' marriage had had its ups and downs over the years, McCarty admitted; both husband and wife were having affairs, but they were "not ready to call it quits." In the summer of 1988, after Solomon temporarily ended his relationship with Carolyn Warmus, she wrote him notes, gave his daughter Kristan extravagant gifts, and told her college friend Ryan Attenson that Paul Solomon was the perfect person for her. The only obstacle was Betty Jeanne Solomon, and the defendant had made it clear to Attenson that she would do anything to get her out of the picture so that she could take her place in the household.

David L. Lewis responded for the defense by arguing that the case was not about the impropriety of Warmus's adulterous affair, and that her love for Paul Solomon did not demonstrate her guilt. There was no physical evidence, he emphasized, to show that Warmus was in the Solomons' home on the night of the killing. Charging that the prosecution was hampered by sloppy police work, Lewis strongly suggested that Paul Solomon and private detective Vincent Parco were responsible for the murder and for faking evidence to incriminate Carolyn Warmus. When the defense counsel took his seat at the end of his address, the jury was left to wonder how he would support his conspiracy allegations.

Early in the prosecution's case, two Greenburgh police officers related their impressions of Paul Solomon's mental state when they questioned him at the murder scene. Patrol officer Michael Cotter described Paul as shaken: "He said he rolled her over and saw all the blood and started crying; he cried again when he looked at the blood on his hands." In cross-examining the two officers, David Lewis attacked the police for losing possible traces of evidence that might have pointed to other suspects. One of the trial reporters agreed, comparing the Greenburgh police to the Keystone Kops; Paul Solomon had been allowed to wash his hands, and the black glove that was pictured in a police photograph had subsequently vanished and could not be located at the time of the trial.

Lewis had limited success in his efforts to weaken the testimony of Carolyn Warmus's friend Ryan Attenson, to whom she had spoken of the setback in her relationship with Paul Solomon in August 1988. In a telephone conversation, she had asserted that "with her money and Paul's family" (by which Attenson assumed she was referring to the Solomons' teenage daughter Kristan) "they would have a perfect life together." She said that she would take it upon herself to make sure that she ended up with her lover. Several months after the killing but before her arrest, Warmus had spoken to Attenson again; on this occasion she informed him that Solomon and she were going to end up together and that everything had been taken care of -- the other woman was no longer an obstacle. Under cross-examination, Attenson conceded that he did not remember Warmus's exact words but was relating the essence of what she had told him.

Kristan Solomon held the courtroom spellbound with her account of Warmus's campaign to win her goodwill. Paul Solomon had introduced Kristan, an athlete who competed in several sports, to Warmus when he was coaching his daughter and her teammates during an after-school basketball practice. During the next few months she had chatted with Warmus in her classroom, seen her at basketball games, and gone to a Christmas show in Manhattan with her father, Warmus and another teacher.

It was in early 1988, when she and her parents had gone out to dinner with Carolyn Warmus, that the defendant had offered to take her skiing during the winter break. Kristan also told the jury about the birthday gifts that she had received from the defendant.

On the girl's fifteenth birthday in August 1988, when the prosecutors asserted that Solomon had temporarily broken off their affair, Warmus had unexpectedly arrived at the Solomons' condominium with two outfits and a bracelet for Kristan. "I was in shock," Kristan testified. "I was not frightened but hesitant, because I knew my Mom didn't enjoy her in the house, and I was worried there would be words." After Betty Jeanne's death, Warmus had left notes on the door of the Solomons' condominium but had not seen Kristan; however, two weeks before the girl's sixteenth birthday, she had arrived home to discover a pale blue Tiffany's box at her doorstep containing diamond stud-earrings and a note from Warmus signed, "Love always, Carolyn."

Prosecution lawyers began their efforts to tie Warmus to the murder weapon with the testimony of a private investigator, James A. Russo, who swore that the defendant had consulted him a few months before the slaying to seek protection from a woman named "Jean or Betty Jean," who was trying to hurt her family. When Russo had suggested a bodyguard, Warmus had stated her preference for a "machine gun and silencer."

On three earlier occasions in the late summer and early fall of 1988, Warmus had consulted Russo about other fears. During one of her interviews she had claimed that her father's jet had been sabotaged in Michigan and that a "woman was seen in the vicinity in the hangar"; during her next visit, Warmus had told Russo that the same woman had struck her sister's car in Washington in a hit-and-run. In his cross-examination, Lewis tried to discredit Russo by portraying him as a sleazy detective who would do anything for money. At his prodding, the witness recounted his recent work for a landlord who suspected a prostitution ring in his upper eastside apartment building; the witness said he had "gone undercover" and paid a prostitute $400 in exchange for sex.

Dramatic evidence of the murder night was provided by an operator of the New York Telephone Company. Since a direct police emergency network was not established in Westchester County, customers who dialed 911 were answered by a private operator who then referred messages to the local police.

Shortly before 7:12 on the night of the killing, the witness, Linda Viana Newcombe, had received a call from a screaming woman whose only decipherable words sounded like "trying to kill me." The call was quickly disconnected and the operator, now thoroughly rattled, had transposed the digits of the number of the telephone on which the incoming call had been made; because of this mistake she had reported the emergency to the Scarsdale police, who had then rerouted the message to the Greenburgh station. David Lewis attempted without success to have the witness specify whether the caller had said "'he' is trying to kill me" or "'she' is trying to kill me."

On February 8, Paul Solomon, who had been granted immunity from prosecution, took the stand to tell the jury about his strained marriage of nineteen years, his feelings of guilt over the affair with Carolyn Warmus, and his actions on the murder night, culminating in the discovery of his wife's body. He had not had sex with Carolyn Warmus in the summer of 1988, but in the fall they had resumed relations despite his conflicting feelings. When they had met for drinks at the Holiday Inn in Yonkers, Paul told the jury, he had encouraged Warmus to seek her happiness elsewhere:

She said it was difficult finding good people to date. I said, "I'd be so happy to dance at your wedding and see you happy." She said, "What about your happiness, Paul? Don't you deserve to be happy?" And I said, "If anything happens to Betty Jeanne and me, I'd never get married anyway."

Despite this exercise in dissuasion, he had then accompanied her to her car to have sexual relations.

For months after his wife's death, Solomon had not seen Warmus and had begun dating a new girlfriend. After playing basketball in Manhattan in July 1989, he stopped by Warmus's eastside apartment. At a nearby bar he had asked her whether she had had anything to do with Betty Jeanne's death. She replied that she was pleased he felt "comfortable enough" to ask her that, but said she had had no involvement. Solomon had asked her again later and she repeated her denial; he told the jury that he had "absolutely believed her."

Prosecutor McCarty elicited Solomon's story of how Warmus had followed him and his new girlfriend to Puerto Rico eight months after the murder, even though he had never told her of his vacation plans. He had become so "frightened" when she appeared on the scene that he notified hotel security, called the Greenburgh police, and left that night.

At the start of his cross-examination, Warmus's lawyer David Lewis held up a card that Solomon had given the defendant early in their affair. Its passionate terms contrasted with Warmus's banal messages about school and community events. The note read:

If you're smart you'll do one of two things. Turn away and never see me again and save yourself from the pain and hurt, or keep loving me and take the risk of you and I having something together forever.

A lot of people write cards, Solomon stated defensively under Lewis's questioning, and sometimes "people put down things that others put more into." The witness's constant reliance on qualifications cannot have strengthened his testimony in the jury's minds. Asked at one point whether he spoke Russian, Solomon replied, "Not that I'm aware of."

On the fifth and final day of the cross-examination on February 21, Solomon burst into a rage when David Lewis bluntly suggested that he was involved in the killing. Calling the insinuation "obscene," the witness charged the defense counsel with an inclination to "twist and turn words, manipulate facts or half-truths, and incomplete reports, to make them what they aren't."

Following Solomon to the stand was investigator Vincent Parco, who had also been granted immunity in exchange for his testimony. Parco stated that Warmus had badgered him for months to provide her with a gun to protect her against burglars who were ravaging her eastside neighborhood. Succumbing at last to her insistence, in the first week of January 1989 he sold her an unregistered black Beretta .25 caliber pistol, a homemade silencer and a dozen bullets for $2,500 in cash delivered in three separate envelopes.

It was Parco's suggestion that he have the silencer made -- so that she could "practice in the woods, the house, in relative obscurity." The detective was able to locate a Brooklyn machine-tool company operator, George Peters, who had agreed to mill the silencer in accordance with diagrams in a book, How to Make a Silencer, which Parco had obtained from his friend Rocco. Parco, ever the perfectionist, was dissatisfied with the performance of Peter's silencer (which he had tested by firing into a tree in lower Manhattan) and had insisted on alterations.

The day after the murder, Carolyn had called to tell Parco that some teacher had been "stabbed or bludgeoned eight or nine times"; the police had come to question her, and she had hidden the gun inside one of the posts of her brass bed. Parco offered to pick up the gun the next day, but Warmus had told him that the weapon was gone; she had thrown it off a parkway.

Judge John Carey excluded as prejudicial any testimony relating to Warmus's engagement of Parco to aid her persecution of the New Jersey bartender, or any other evidence indicating that she had obsessively pursued men prior to her affair with Solomon. However, Parco admitted that he had become infatuated with his attractive client -- although he stoutly insisted that he had rejected her sexual advances. Parco also stated that in August 1989 Carolyn Warmus asked him to check out a license plate and a telephone number. The phone number belonged to a woman Solomon had started dating, while the license was for her father's car. During the summer of 1989 Warmus had denied any relationship with Paul Solomon and had told Parco she was out bowling with a "bunch of teachers" on the night of the murder.

Defense attorney Lewis subjected Parco to a daylong cross-examination, eliciting admissions that as a private investigator he often used disguises and false names, and, in order to obtain information, engaged in deceptive practices known in the trade as "gags." In a surprising show of modesty, though, Parco refused to rate himself an expert in assuming an "acting role" in his undercover work.

On March 5 a Newsday reporter, who regarded the prosecution's evidence to that point as flimsy, disclosed that Paul Solomon stood to gain $120,000, more than twice his annual salary, if a movie was made about the case. A week later the case took a turn in the prosecution's favor with the testimony of Patricia January, a nurse at the Bedford Road Elementary School in Pleasantville, New York, who swore that a week before the killing of Betty Jeanne Solomon, Warmus, after completing a telephone call from the school, had told her that she was "terrified" to live alone and had a gun.

According to the nurse, Warmus had added that "of course" she would never kill anyone, and didn't have ammunition; she had also mentioned that the gun was "specially made" by a private detective. Defense attorney Lewis told Judge Carey that he was surprised by the testimony and obtained an adjournment. In two hours of cross-examination when the court reconvened, Lewis focused on why Patricia January had waited so long to tell authorities of her conversation. The nurse had two answers: She had thought it was common knowledge that Carolyn owned the gun and, besides, she had "wanted someone to open the door" for her to talk about the incident.

After Patricia January was excused from the stand, the opposing legal teams girded themselves for the principal evidentiary battle of the trial, a clash between inconsistent telephone records for January 15, 1989, the day of the murder. A microfiche, obtained by the prosecution from the MCI telephone service that Warmus used, showed a call from her apartment at 3:02 p.m. to Ray's Sport Shop, where bullets were purchased later that afternoon. In response, David Lewis, bringing to the fore at last his principal evidence of a conspiracy to incriminate his client, offered a document that he claimed to be the original MCI bill received by Warmus for January 1989.

This document, printed in an MCI bill format and bearing the company's logo, lacked the call to Ray's Sport Shop on January 15 but included a direct-dial call at 6:44 p.m. on the same day that brought the total telephone charge to the same figure shown in the MCI record. Lewis told the judge that the 6:44 call "made it all but impossible for [Warmus] to have been in Westchester at 7:15 to commit the murder." The prosecution mounted a devastating attack on the authenticity of the "bill" offered by the defense, showing that the MCI record it had introduced was consistent with the company's computer tapes and that the paper on which the defense version of the bill was prepared lacked a slogan that was imprinted on all MCI customer statements in January 1989. Ultimately Judge Carey permitted both versions of the disputed telephone bill to be submitted to the jury.

In the days that followed, the prosecution completed its chain of evidence. Lisa Kattai, a secretary for a telecommunications company, identified Warmus as a temporary office employee who had worked with her in August 1988, when Kattai had noticed that her New York State driver's license was missing. According to Kattai, Warmus resembled the witness's photograph taken for her driver's license at a time that she had shorter, "frosted" blonde hair.

It was the prosecution's theory that Warmus had posed as Kattai when she purchased ammunition at the gunshop on the afternoon before the murder. Subsequently, Detective Joseph Reich of the Westchester County Police testified that he had compared six shell casings found at the murder scene with a seventh picked up eleven months later in the Brooklyn machine shop of George Peters, who had admitted milling a silencer at Parco's request; all seven bullets had been fired from the same gun.

The testimony for the defense began with trucker Anthony Gambino, who supported Lewis's conspiracy theory by stating that Parco had asked him to commit a murder in the summer of 1988; he had virtuously declined the request. Another witness implicating Parco in the crime was Joseph Lisella, who stated that from a stall in the men's room of a bowling alley where he had stopped between 7:30 and 8:30 p.m. on January 15, 1989, he had heard two men exchange $20,000 and talk about having thrown a gun in the "deepest part of the river."

He had not seen the men's faces, but they had called each other Vinnie and Paul, the first names of Parco and Solomon. The conspiracy theme was pursued with the testimony of Thomas A. Warmus, the defendant's father, who stated that Parco had tried to shake him down for a substantial sum of money in the summer of 1989; Mr. Warmus left the courtroom without having looked at his daughter. On April 10, the defense rested after Lewis had shown the jury a news videotape of Parco making threatening remarks about Gambino after the trucker's testimony.

In the closing arguments, the prosecution claimed that it had established a persuasive chain of circumstantial evidence, while Lewis, pounding home his conspiracy theory, invoked the Salem witchcraft trials as a parallel to the unjust persecution of his client.

The jurors deliberated for twelve days, a record in Westchester County, and ultimately deadlocked, with eight reportedly in favor of conviction and four holding out for acquittal; Judge Carey regretfully declared a mistrial. Interviews with the jury revealed that the minority of the jurors who favored acquittal were disturbed by the circumstantial nature of the evidence and could not believe that a woman could have brutally pistol-whipped Betty Jeanne as the murderer had done.

All of the jurors agreed that the defense telephone bill was a fake, but the minority faction thought that the forgery might have been an act of desperation on the part of someone being framed for murder. One juror could not credit the possibility that Carolyn Warmus, given her inexperience with guns, could have hit a moving target with all nine bullets, even at close range.

When the second trial began in January 1992 (after an unsuccessful attempt by the state to have Judge Carey replaced on the ground that he was biased in favor of Warmus), the prosecution trial team and strategy remained intact, but the defense had been thoroughly overhauled. Warmus had hired a new lawyer, William I. Aronwald, whose low-key style was in stark contrast with the theatrical and bellicose manner of the defendant's original counsel, David Lewis.

It was Aronwald's intention to cast suspicion on Paul Solomon and Vincent Parco, as Lewis had done, but the "frame-up" theme would be subordinated to a broader plan to create reasonable doubt on a number of issues. Aronwald's less melodramatic approach was mandated by the first jury's obvious rejection of the principal evidence that Lewis had offered to show that the case against Warmus was pure fabrication.

Even jurors who had held out for acquittal were persuaded that the telephone invoice introduced by the defense at the first trial was a fake and that two key defense witnesses, trucker Anthony Gambino and men's room eavesdropper Joseph Lisella, were not worthy of belief. After the first trial ended, the state indicted Warmus for forgery of the telephone bill; subsequently Judge Carey ruled that the prosecution could not introduce the alleged forgery into evidence at the second murder trial as proof of Warmus's consciousness of guilt, since she might have been unaware of the fabrication of the document.

The prosecution case appeared to be following its expected course until March 4, when Westchester Assistant District Attorney James McCarty made a stunning announcement. He told the court that the black glove that had been photographed at the murder scene and later vanished had now been rediscovered. In January the prosecution had asked Paul Solomon to search again for evidence for the new trial, and he had delivered the glove, which he said he had found in a box in his bedroom closet. Forensic tests had turned up barely visible finger-shaped human bloodstains on top of the glove.

Unprepared for this turn of events, defense counsel Aronwald accused prosecutor McCarty of "trial by ambush," and Judge Carey initially ruled the glove inadmissible. He, was, however, promptly induced to rethink his stand when McCarty told him that he had procured credit-card and store records revealing that on November 9, 1987 Carolyn Warmus had purchased a pair of gloves at Filene's Basement in Greenburgh matching the glove found in the Solomon residence. Faced with this offer of proof, Judge Carey ruled that the glove could be admitted if the prosecution was able to show that Warmus had bought gloves "having similar intrinsic characteristics" of color, material, size and style.

The Filene's sales slip did not specify the color of the gloves purchased but permitted their identification as Shalimar Vanity Glove Inc.'s style 6781, a $10 one-size-fits-all wool glove manufactured by a Chinese state-owned cooperative. The Solomons' daughter, Kristan, testified that Warmus had worn black gloves, and a forensic expert, Dr. Peter DeForest, testified that, after comparing the fibers found in the victim's hand during the original murder investigation with the fibers of the glove, he had found the two sets to be "indistinguishable."

Satisfied that sufficient evidence had been established to link the glove to the murder and to the defendant, Judge Carey ruled that it could be admitted, but excluded any reference to the tests revealing that spatters on the glove might be human blood. To the bafflement of observers, defense counsel Aronwald himself highlighted the evidence of the apparent bloodstains by contending that Solomon might have placed the stains on the glove recently in an attempt to incriminate Carolyn Warmus.

The prosecution rested its case on May 5, and the defense, shuffling the order of its witnesses to meet the menace posed by the black glove, called to the stand William Bohus, president of Shalimar Vanity Glove Inc., the importer of the gloves identified in the Filene's sales slip as purchased by Warmus. Bohus testified that his company had sold some 36,000 pairs of the gloves since 1986, a quarter of which were black.

Carolyn Warmus's stepmother, Nancy K. Dailey, also gave evidence intended to minimize the impact of the prosecution's newly rediscovered glove. She showed the jurors a black and gold ski suit, with its own matching black gloves, that she had bought for Carolyn long before the murder. Mrs. Dailey's testimony seemed to prove only that Carolyn Warmus might have owned more than one pair of black gloves, and the prosecution was quick to emphasize this fashion note.

The ski suit was almost all black, prosecutor McCarty's assistant Douglas FrizMorris observed. Was black one of Ms. Warmus's favorite colors? . . . Might she not have liked the color so much that she had bought a second pair? . . . According to the New York Times reporter: "for a minute every eye shifted to the young woman at the defense table in the flowing black skirt and the black boots." Carolyn's stepmother stood firm, however; black, she maintained, was not among Carolyn's favorite shades. "She looks very good in bright colors."

After the last echoes of the glove controversy died down, the balance of the defense's evidence seemed humdrum by comparison. A firearms expert, Jerold Steinberg, asserted that the silencer that machinist George Peters had supposedly made for Vincent Parco would not have functioned well enough for use in a shooting. Aronwald called a Bedford school secretary in a final effort to refute nurse January's belated recollection that, after finishing a conversation on the school's telephone, Carolyn Warmus had told the nurse that she had purchased a gun. The secretary described a telephone log in which teachers were asked to write down any private calls for later billing. There were no listings of any calls by Carolyn Warmus on the date of the conversation reported by nurse January. Aronwald suggested that this detail was a sufficient ground for the jurors to conclude that the nurse had made up the entire story.

Since Warmus's questionable telephone bill could not be introduced in evidence, the defense was compelled to take a fresh approach to the disputed call from Warmus's apartment to the gun shop. Aronwald summoned to the stand a private investigator, who said that it was possible for someone to have "tapped" into Warmus's apartment line and made the call without her knowledge.

In his closing argument on May 19, Aronwald argued that the victim, Betty Jeanne Solomon, was "unwanted baggage" to her husband Paul and that he, not Carolyn Warmus, had the motive and the opportunity to kill his wife to clear the way for a series of love affairs. Aronwald strongly urged the jury to reject the wondrously materializing woolen glove. This was the evidence, he argued, that the prosecution hoped would swing the second jury in its favor.

It was no accident, in Aronwald's view, that Solomon claimed to have discovered in his apartment the glove that the police had photographed next to his dead wife's body in January 1989 and then had lost. That glove, he reminded the jurors, was tested at the time and did not appear to have blood on it just after the murder. It was no accident either that now, according to prosecution witnesses, the glove was bloodstained, for it was Mr. Solomon himself who had placed the blood there to try to link Carolyn Warmus to the murder scene.

Replying for the state, Assistant District Attorney McCarty urged that there was too much evidence tying Carolyn Warmus to the shooting to be explained away. "These aren't a series of coincidences, ladies and gentlemen," he said. "Sooner or later the picture should become clear to you: you can see Carolyn Warmus doing this."

He argued that Paul Solomon had nothing to gain from the death of his wife and that only Warmus could have killed the woman she had come to view as an obstacle. Warmus's telephone bill showed that, on the day of the murder, she had called Solomon and talked to him for 55 minutes. During that call, she had learned that the Solomons' daughter was away for the weekend and that Betty Jeanne would be alone. When Solomon told her that he had accompanied his wife to a bar mitzvah the day before, it was brought home to Warmus once again that she was on the "bad side of a lovers' triangle." In the course of the conversation she had made plans to meet Solomon at 7:30 that night at the Holiday Inn, and thirty minutes after the conversation ended, her phone bill showed the call to the New Jersey gunshop.

The police placed Mrs. Solomon's death at around 7:15 that night; the prosecutor reminded jurors that one witness at the Holiday Inn restaurant said that Solomon had arrived there at 7:30 and Warmus only later. In greeting Solomon, the prosecutor said, Carolyn had explained that she had been caught in traffic. "Traffic," McCarty repeated to the jurors with an expression of disbelief, "on a Sunday night?"

After seven days of deliberations, the jury found Warmus guilty of second degree murder and illegal gun possession. Among the jurors, the black glove was the most frequently cited reason for the verdict. William Aronwald said: "I have no doubt in my mind that without the glove the prosecution would not have hoped anything better than a hung jury. It really derailed our defense." David Lewis, defense lawyer at the first trial, was not reluctant to second-guess his successor, suggesting that Aronwald might have been hurt by moving away from a strategy of claiming more centrally that Warmus had been framed by Solomon and Parco:

I think what we did in the first trial was to address the issue of a frame-up from the first meeting with the jury. That is, as far as I'm concerned, the major difference between the two trials.

In a decision announced on June 26, 1992, Judge Carey passed sentence on Carolyn Warmus. Belying the prosecution's persistent charges that he had a soft heart for the defense, Carey doubted neither the justice of the jury's verdict nor the gravity of the risk that Warmus might repeat the criminal acts of which she had been convicted. Characterizing Warmus as a woman who "unhesitatingly took another's life for no apparent purpose but that of having the victim's husband to herself," the judge considered that the assurance of a long incarceration was necessary for the benefit of anyone who might anger her in the future as well as for those persons she might consider to have contributed to her conviction or to have harmed her in some other fashion.

Operating under statutory sentencing guidelines, Carey defined his task as prolonging the time within which Warmus's adversaries, such as Paul Solomon and Vincent Parco, could "sleep somewhat more soundly."

Any speculation, however, that the defendant might threaten a broader circle of the public "would fly in the face of her non-violent career up to the time she brought herself under the evil influence of Vincent Parco, whose respect for the law is minimal." Weighing these considerations, Judge Carey imposed a murder sentence of imprisonment for a term of not less than twenty-five years and a concurrent sentence under the gun possession count of confinement for not less than five years nor more than fifteen.

Even before the jury returned in her second trial, Carolyn Warmus had condemned herself to a more durable penance. In a courtroom conversation with a Newsday reporter, she vowed that she was finished with married men for all time.


On March 15, 1993, Carolyn Warmus's attorney filed a motion for a new trial, claiming that two pieces of key evidence had been withheld by the prosecution. Aronwald asserted that the prosecution knew that Paul Solomon had been having an affair with another woman, Barbara Ballor, three months before his wife was killed, and not four months after the murder, as he had testified.

Moreover, the defense counsel asserted, the prosecution had not disclosed to the jury the existence of a second glove, apparently found outside the Greenburgh apartment building; Aronwald contended that the prosecution had used the first glove to link Warmus to the slaying, but that the second would have acquitted her. Unimpressed with these arguments, Judge Carey denied a retrial.

This article was published previously in Jonathan Goodman (ed.), The Modern Murder Yearbook 99-120 (London, Robinson, 1994).

Collected Essays of Albert Borowitz 1966-2005


The People of the State of New York, Respondent,
Carolyn Warmus, Appellant.

Appeal by the defendant from a judgment of the County Court, Westchester County (Carey, J.), rendered June 26, 1992, convicting her of murder in the second degree and criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, upon a jury verdict, and imposing sentence.

Ordered that the judgment is affirmed.

On the evening of January 15, 1989 the victim was killed by multiple gunshots. The evidence established that the victim's husband and the defendant had started a relationship in the fall of 1987, and the defendant's friends testified that the defendant had become obsessed with the victim's husband, a fellow teacher, and had expressed an ardent desire to take the victim's place in his family.

The evidence also established that Vincent Parco, a private investigator, sold the defendant the gun and silencer that fired the bullets that killed the victim. Further, on the day of the murder, a person using for identification a driver's license stolen from the defendant's female coworker purchased a box of the same type of ammunition that was used to kill the victim. The New Jersey gun shop that sold the ammunition had been called earlier that day from the defendant's home telephone.

It was also established that the defendant purchased a pair of gloves of the same type as a glove that had become trapped underneath the victim's body. A glove identified as that glove and admitted into evidence at trial contained fibers that were consistent with fibers found on the victim's hands.

The defendant failed to preserve for appellate review her contention that the evidence was not legally sufficient to establish her guilt beyond a reasonable doubt (see CPL 470.05 [2]; People v Gray, 86 NY2d 10 [1995]; People v Udzinski, 146 AD2d 245 [1989]). In any event, viewing the evidence in the light most favorable to the prosecution (see People v Contes, 60 NY2d 620 [1983]; see also People v Grassi, 92 NY2d 695, 697 [1999]; People v Norman, 85 NY2d 609, 620-621 [1995]; People v Cabey, 85 NY2d 417, 421 [1995]; People v Williams, 84 NY2d 925, 926 [1994]), we find that it was legally sufficient to establish the defendant's guilt beyond a reasonable doubt. Moreover, upon the exercise of our factual review power, we are satisfied that the verdict of guilt was not against the weight of the evidence (see CPL 470.15 [5]).

Contrary to the defendant's contention, the court properly admitted the glove into evidence.

The sentence imposed was not excessive (see People v Suitte, 90 AD2d 80 [1982]).

The defendant's contentions, contained in her pro se brief, that testimony as to the defendant's August 1989 trip to Puerto Rico was improperly admitted into evidence, that the court improperly excluded evidence of her polygraph test, that the trial publicity deprived her of a fair trial, and that the jury improperly reached its verdict before the completion of requested read-backs of testimony are unpreserved for appellate review (see CPL 470.05 [2]; People v Reyes, 4 AD3d 541 [2004]; People v Spragion, 288 AD2d 498 [2001]; People v Cham, 259 AD2d 492 [1999]; People v Williams, 220 AD2d 549 [1995]) and, in any event, are without merit.

The defendant's contentions, contained in her pro se brief, that the court improperly admitted the defendant's audiotaped statement into evidence and allowed the jurors to utilize a transcript of the statement while listening to the tape, that the court erred in allowing the People to withdraw their motion to dismiss the count charging her with criminal possession of a weapon in the second degree, that the defendant's conviction was improper because it is based on an "inference on an inference," that the court improperly denied both of the defendant's mistrial motions, that the court improperly excluded evidence of a telephone call placed from Parco's office to a telephone number in Plainview, New Jersey, on the day of the murder, that the court erroneously excluded evidence of Parco's bankruptcy and employment files, and that the defendant was impermissibly prejudiced by the court's exclusion of certain extrinsic evidence regarding Parco, are without merit.

The defendant's remaining contentions contained in her pro se brief cannot be reviewed on this appeal as they are based on matter dehors the record (see Merkle v Merkle, 91 NY2d 884 [1998]; People v Bell, 287 AD2d 460 [2001]; People v McKithen, 221 AD2d 476, 477 [1995]; People v Drummond, 104 AD2d 825, 826 [1984]). Florio, J.P., Adams, Luciano and Fisher, JJ., concur.


The Fatal Attraction Murder Case

By Mark Gado

The movie

Every married man in America who had ever thought of dallying with a woman other than his wife must have trembled in his socks when he saw it. The film Fatal Attraction debuted in the summer of 1987 and became an immediate commercial success. It was directed by Adrian Lyne, of Flashdance fame and starred Michael Douglas as Dan Gallagher, the beleaguered and unfortunate husband. Dan was married to Beth Gallagher, the attractive, loyal wife played by Anne Archer. The maniacal mistress, Alex Forrest, so perfectly played by actress Glenn Close, was every Lothario's worst scenario come true.

They first meet at a corporate party where Alex was a guest of a mutual friend. Luckily, Gallagher's wife is away on a business trip of her own. They hit it off from the very start and by the end of the night, Gallagher takes Alex to her apartment. In her kitchen, they have an intense sexual union, which leaves them both wanting more.

But soon, things begin to go wrong. Alex becomes possessive, vindictive and demands more of Gallagher's time, which he is unwilling to give. She continually calls him at his job and engages him in long conversations, which usually end in screaming matches. Dan Gallagher attempts to break off the relationship but Alex doesn't cooperate. She carries on as if they are still a couple, calls him at home and makes her one-sided plans for the future. Gallagher finally goes to the police when he realizes that she is out of control.

Finally, Alex manages to get into Gallagher's home where she attempts to murder his wife with a huge kitchen knife. A few minutes later, Beth Gallagher shoots Alex as she is about to kill her husband. When the film ended, America's married men breathed a little easier. Until January 1989, when a real life "Fatal Attraction" broke into the headlines. Only this time, it was no movie.

This time, it was all too real.

The night of the murder

Greenburgh is a small town located about 20 miles north of New York City in the affluent county of Westchester. It is a wealthy suburb where many business professionals both live and work. Though the community has areas of secluded and expensive homes, parts of Greenburgh are adjacent to the City of Yonkers, which runs along a major artery called Central Avenue. That thoroughfare is an extremely busy road where thousands of cars and trucks pass daily. Hundreds of stores and dozens of strip malls line Central Avenue from the Yonkers line on the south all the way to its northern border with the City of White Plains. There are also many condominium complexes and stylish town homes that are set back from the hustling pace of the street. They have trendy names like Mountainview and Forest Edge that present the illusion of peaceful enclaves and tranquil villages to potential buyers. Such a place was the Scarsdale Ridge Apartments where an elementary school teacher, Paul Solomon, 41, lived with his wife and child in 1989. Of course, the apartments weren't actually located in Scarsdale but to have the name associated with one's address carries a certain level of prestige. Scarsdale is one of the richest and most desirable communities in America.

Solomon was of Lebanese descent and had the classical "Mediterranean look," dark complexion, dark hair and brown eyes. He had a medium build, neither too fat nor too thin, and in 1989, he had an abundance of thick, overflowing hair. That year, Paul Solomon grew a full beard that made him appear older than his years. He was less than average height at 5'7" and at times, he appeared even shorter than he was. But he felt that women found him attractive and over the years, had several relationships outside his marriage. His wife, Betty Jeanne Solomon, 40, worked as a financial manager in a nearby community. They had a daughter, Kristan, 14, who had an interest in sports. Like many marriages, the Solomons had their problems but they remained together. "We had our ups and downs, but I still loved her," he later told the court.

On the afternoon of Sunday, January 15, 1989, Paul and Betty Jeanne were home together watching television reruns. Kristan was away on a weekend ski trip with friends. Paul had no plans that night other than to relax in front of the television and catch up on some reading. At 1:37 p.m., the phone rang in the kitchen. When Paul answered it, he was pleasantly surprised to learn that it was another teacher who he had worked with in the past. They met in 1987 when she arrived at the Greenville School as a new teacher. They were immediately attracted to each other and soon, they were sleeping together. She was only 25 years old and Paul found her youth exciting and inspiring. She had fluffy blonde hair, large oval eyes and a trim, sexy body that turned every man's head. "It's very hard to resist Carolyn," he said months later in court. Although she was possessive and unpredictable, Paul liked her outgoing, fun-loving personality. Her name was Carolyn Warmus.

During the 55-minute phone call, Carolyn expressed disappointment that Paul didn't take her out for her birthday a week before. Soon, they made arrangements to meet later that night. The rendezvous was the Treetops restaurant located at a Holiday Inn hotel on Central Avenue about six miles south of Scarsdale Ridge Apartments. They had dinner at the same place several times before so there was no need for directions. They agreed on 7:30 p.m. and said their good-byes. When Paul confronted Betty Jeanne in the living room, he told her that he was going bowling that night.

Later that afternoon or perhaps early evening, Paul hooked up a battery charger to his car, a 1983 Toyota Celica, in the garage. A battery charger typically requires a few hours to fully charge. Until then, the car would be disabled. He would have to take his wife's car, a 1988 Dodge. At about 6:30 p.m., Paul Solomon drove off, leaving Betty Jeanne safely inside the apartment alone, while he went to meet his girlfriend.

Carolyn Warmus

Carolyn was the daughter of Tom Warmus, a self-made millionaire who accumulated his fortune in the insurance business in Michigan. She was born on January 8, 1964, in a section of eastern Detroit called Saint Clair Shores, Michigan. Raised in wealthy surroundings, Carolyn's every need and want were usually satisfied. Although she lacked little in material things, her parents were unable to stay together and after a bitter struggle, they divorced in 1972. Carolyn was just eight years old at that point. She and her brother and sister went to live with their mother. But animosity between their parents continued for years. There were many court appearances and disputes over custodial issues. The fighting did not affect Tom's business, though. He became even more successful and in 1990, the {New York Times} reported that Tom Warmus was worth over $150 million and owned a fleet of jets, several homes and dozens of cars.

After Carolyn graduated from high school, she attended the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor where she became involved with several married men. These relationships usually ended in an unhappy manner with Carolyn feeling that she was mistreated. Although she was a child of privilege, Carolyn was a troubled young woman. She seemed unable to interact successfully in most of her relationships. And there was always an element of obsessive behavior in her dealings with men. One of her former boyfriends was forced to obtain a restraining order from a local judge to prevent Carolyn from harassing him any further. She had promised to disrupt his upcoming wedding.

Eventually, Carolyn moved to New York City where she attended Columbia University and obtained a master's degree in 1987. In September that same year, she managed to get a job at Scarsdale's Greenville elementary school. During the first week at the school, she met Paul Solomon, a sixth-grade teacher. It was mutual physical attraction at first sight. Few men could not help but take notice of Carolyn's sexy persona and desirable body. She was a fashionable dresser, always sure to be wearing designer clothes that enhanced her figure and brought out the best of her attributes. Carolyn came from money and it showed in her dress, her style and her image.

But those involved with Carolyn over the years, were not kind when it came to describing her personality. One police detective, who went to Michigan to interview some of her past friends, said recently, "People remarked about her mental stability, called her "ditzy" and "schizo." And they weren't the only ones. Some of Carolyn's co-workers told police that she had several personalities and "she was a nut!"

Rendezvous at the Tree Tops

Solomon made a right turn outside the apartment complex and drove south on Central Avenue. He pulled into the Brunswick Lanes parking lot in Yonkers, a distance of less than five miles from his apartment, within a few minutes. He bowled at Brunswick frequently and knew a lot of people there. When he walked onto the lanes he saw some friends and made a point to say hello. After exchanging greetings, he sat for a few minutes and watched the game. Then without explanation or good-byes he suddenly got up and walked out of the alleys.

At exactly 7:15 p.m., about the same time Solomon left the bowling alley, a telephone operator in Westchester received a disturbing call. She answered the phone call with the usual "New York Telephone." She immediately heard screaming on the other end of the line.

"Can I help you?" she said, "can I help you?" The response on the line was very quick, sudden and was not repeated. She may have misunderstood the first word of the response, but the message was clear.

"He's trying to kill me!" the female voice screamed. The line then went dead. The operator was not sure if the female said "he's" or "she's." When the number was identified, the police were notified. They checked a reverse directory and dispatched a unit to check out the location. But they could not have known that the very same telephone number had recently been reassigned to the Scarsdale Ridge apartment of Paul Solomon. The police checked out the wrong address and left the scene convinced it was a bogus call.

In the meantime, Paul Solomon got back into Betty Jeanne's car and then drove a few more minutes until he reached the Holiday Inn in Yonkers just off Tuckahoe Road. The restaurant at the hotel was called the Treetops, a dark and comfortable place to eat or pass the time over cocktails. It is located just a stone's throw from the parkway and is easily accessible for travelers northbound from Manhattan. Carolyn met Paul there before and they both enjoyed the atmosphere at the Treetops. It was dimly lit, quiet and had a sort of out-of-the-way ambiance that a man in Solomon's sensitive position could appreciate. When he walked in, he took a seat at the bar, ordered a drink and waited for his date.

At about 7:45 p.m., Carolyn walked in and saw Solomon at the bar. She joined him and for the next hour, they sat together and enjoyed several rounds of drinks. According to the court testimony of the waitress, they soon moved to a table where they ordered their meals and drank for about two hours. Whenever the waitress glanced at the table, she saw the couple absorbed in a deep conversation. Solomon later testified in court that they spoke about their future together: "She said it was difficult finding good people to date. I said I would be so happy to dance at your wedding and see you happy. She said 'What about your happiness, Paul? Don't you deserve to be happy?" When it came time to go, Paul paid the check and both he and Carolyn left the restaurant together. Outside, they sat in Carolyn's car in the corner of a darkened parking lot.

Soon, they were unbuttoning each other's clothes. They kissed and felt each other's warmth. Carolyn's lithe body was too much for Solomon to resist. According to Solomon's later statements, she asked to perform oral sex on him. "Please. Paul. Can I? Will you let me?" she said.

Within a few minutes, the sex was completed. When they were finished, the lovers said good-bye with promises to soon meet again. Carolyn drove out of the parking lot and turned south to Manhattan. Paul Solomon turned left onto Tuckahoe Road and headed home to the Scarsdale Ridge complex.

A short time later, at about 11:40 p.m., Solomon walked through the front door of his apartment and from that moment on, his life would never be the same again.

Death scene

At 11:42 p.m. the phone rang at the Village of Scarsdale Police Department on White Plains Road. The dispatcher picked up the call and glanced at the clock. It was several minutes before the change of tour.

"Scarsdale Police," he said.

"It's my wife! I think she's dead! I need help. My name is Paul Solomon. She's not moving. She's covered with blood! Please hurry!" The man was frantic. But Solomon had called the wrong police department. The Scarsdale Ridge Apartments were actually located in Greenburgh. The dispatcher notified the Greenburgh Police who dispatched patrol units to the scene.

When the cops arrived, they found Paul Solomon extremely distraught. He was nervous, excited and looked very scared. "I got home, the first thing I heard was the TV on very loud. I walked into the living room. The lights were out. I noticed that Betty Jeanne was on the floor. I assumed she was asleep," Solomon said later. "I touched her and she was cold. I went and turned the lights on. I turned her over and there was blood. I thought she had fallen and hit her head."

The police surveyed the room before them. Lying on the living room floor in a wide pool of fresh blood, her head away from the door, was the body of Betty Jeanne Solomon. She was laying face down and appeared to have been shot several times. There were obvious bullet holes in her back and leg. The room was apparently undisturbed and there were no signs of any type of struggle. The furniture and fixtures were intact. There was no forced entry through any of the doors or the windows. Nothing was stolen from the apartment. The television was still on and the volume was turned up. A telephone receiver was lying on the floor just out of reach of Betty Jean's hand. The telephone jack was unplugged from the wall.

Detective Sgt. Tommy Lind and Detective Richard Constantino of the Greenburgh Police Department soon arrived and began the tedious job of note taking and conducting interviews. Within minutes, the forensic team entered the apartment and began to process the scene. They took photographs, completed a diagram of the crime scene and dusted the area for latents. Sgt. Lind found Solomon sitting in the living room of a neighbor's apartment. When he asked Solomon what his movements were before he came home, Solomon recited everything he did. But he left out one important point. At first, he did not mention that he met Carolyn at the Treetops.

Det. Constantino, 33, was a 10-year veteran in 1989 and already a detective for several years. Although he had assisted in other death and homicide investigations, this would be the first murder case in which he would be the lead investigator. After a few minutes at the scene, Constantino immediately suspected Solomon. "When a wife is murdered and the body is found by the husband and he's the last person to see her alive, what would anyone think?" he said in a recent interview. "And statistically, in the majority of the cases, it's the husband," he added. Although they did not like all of Solomon's answers, Constantino and Lind made note of his oral statements. Solomon was distraught but continued to answer all the questions. In the meantime, the forensic team had located six .25-caliber shell casings on the living room floor. A superficial examination of Betty Jeanne's body revealed that she had been shot at least eight times. Later, Solomon agreed to give a formal written statement.

At the police station, detectives went over every detail of Solomon's movements prior to arriving home. He then told the cops he did not come straight home after visiting the bowling alley. He said that he met Carolyn Warmus at a restaurant in Yonkers and had dinner. Solomon outlined his relationship with Carolyn for the past year. He told them about the Treetops date, the clandestine meetings, love notes at the job and telephone calls to his home.

And, by the way, Solomon said, he almost forgot to mention that after the Treetops dinner, he did have sex with Carolyn in her car while they were in the parking lot.

The investigation goes on and on

Police later confirmed Solomon's alibi. "We checked into his story and though he was a little off on his times, he was substantially accurate," Constantino said. Workers at the Treetops confirmed that Solomon and Warmus were drinking at the bar and having dinner. Originally, detectives were strongly in favor of Paul Solomon as the most likely suspect. It was difficult to abandon the notion of the "philandering husband kills annoying wife so he can be with his girlfriend" theory. But in this case, investigators found that Solomon's explanation of his movements on the night of the murder were, for the most part, truthful.

A few days later, Carolyn Warmus was asked to come into the police department for an interview. "We figured we might as well keep talking to her as long as she didn't object. I called her on the phone and asked her to come in and she was very nice. She said 'sure, I'll be right over,'" Constantino recalled. "She came into the police station, I said 'Carolyn, how are you?' She said fine and then said she didn't want to talk anymore without a lawyer. We had to let her go at that point," he said.

Constantino, not totally convinced of her innocence, plowed ahead in the investigation. Police also speculated that Betty Jeanne was the target of a professional hit, a victim of a burglary gone badly or an aborted sex crime. But one by one, these theories were discarded and investigators were forced back to square one. By spring 1989, progress had come to a halt. "In around March of that year, we were at a dead-end. It looked like we had nowhere to turn," Constantino recently said. Detectives interviewed and re-interviewed everyone connected to the case with little to show for it. At times, it seemed there was nothing left to investigate.

In April, investigators turned their attention to the phone records of Carolyn Warmus. These records were obtained through subpoena and soon, detectives began to examine each and every call made by Warmus from her Manhattan apartment during the critical period before and after the murder. Constantino spent "all of April and May examining the phone records every single day." One of the phone numbers on the list belonged to a Vincent Parco, a private investigator from Manhattan. Carolyn made many phone calls to Parco both before and after the day of Betty Jeanne's murder. When detectives questioned Parco, he told them that Carolyn was a former client of his and she had hired him to check on a previous boyfriend. The work was performed and although Parco did no other work for her, Carolyn continued to call from time to time to say hello. This didn't sit well with investigators who suspected there was more to the Parco-Warmus relationship than friendly phone chats. "We talked to Parco several times, each time, he changed his story," Constantino said.

Parco, perhaps seeing a future for himself that could include jail, eventually decided to expand on his original statement. He said that shortly before Betty Jeanne was killed, Carolyn had asked him where she could get a gun. She said she wanted it for protection and was very adamant about it. "Almost every time that I saw her she became fairly persistent as far as asking me to acquire a firearm for her," Parco later said at trial. Carolyn also wanted a silencer for the weapon. "She became persistent about getting a silencer for the firearm," he later testified. Although he refused to get the weapon for her at first, Parco told detectives that in early January of 1989, he finally relented and sold her a .25-caliber automatic fitted with a silencer for $2,500. The weapon was originally a gift that Parco had received from a friend. He later sent the gun over to another friend in Brooklyn, George Peters, who manufactured a silencer for the weapon.

When detectives visited Peters at his machine shop in Brooklyn, he admitted he manufactured a silencer for the .25-caliber handgun. He also said that before he returned the Beretta to Parco, he test fired the gun by putting a few rounds into a block of wood. When detectives later conducted a search of his workshop, they found a single spent .25-caliber shell casing underneath a table. Westchester County Lab technicians performed a comparison between that casing and the casings found on the floor next to Betty Jeanne. The casings were a perfect match. Constantino was elated. "The .25 Beretta automatic that Parco gave to Peters to fit for a silencer and he later sold to Carolyn Warmus, was the same weapon that was used to kill Betty Jeanne," he said.

The walls were closing in on Carolyn.

The telephone tells all

To police investigators, phone records are a treasure trove of information. Phone numbers and the times of calls can lead to bigger and better things in any investigation. Constantino immediately looked for calls made on January 15, 1989. "I found calls were made from Carolyn's apartment several times on that date," he said. Parco was called on many occasions, both before and after the day of Betty Jeanne's murder. But Constantino noticed another call made at 3:02 p.m. on January 15. It was a Jersey telephone number and when he ran it through the Cole's reverse directory, which contains listings by phone numbers instead of names, Constantino found that the call was made to a gun store.

"It was called Ray's Sport Shop in North Plainfield, New Jersey," he said. North Plainfield is located about twenty miles west of Manhattan. "Me and Investigator John "O.D." O'Donnell from Westchester County D.A.s Office, drove out there to talk to the owner." At the store, Constantino and O.D. reviewed the purchase records for the day of Betty Jeanne's murder. They found several sales of .25-caliber ammunition. Men from the New Jersey area made three of the purchases. "But only one was a female. And she wasn't local, she was from Long Island," Constantino remembered. "We immediately thought: Why would someone from Long Island drive all the way out to New Jersey to buy .25-caliber ammunition?" he said. Her name was listed on the records as Liisa Kattai and according to store records, she used her New York State driver's license as an I.D.

"We drove out to talk with her and when she opened the door, she refused to talk with us at first," Constantino said. "But when we told her it was a homicide investigation, she told us her story. Kattai said that she never purchased any ammunition at Ray's Sport Shop and had never been there. She said that she worked at a summer job where her license was either lost or stolen. She had reported the loss and received a duplicate license from the Department of Motor Vehicles, which she showed to the detectives. And one more thing, she told them, during her summer employment, she worked with another woman named Carolyn Warmus.

"We couldn't believe our ears!" Constantino said. The police now had Warmus's phone records, which showed that a call was made to a gun store in Jersey a few hours before the murder. The gun store had a record of a purchase of the same type of handgun ammunition that killed Betty Jeanne Solomon by a female and the buyer used the stolen license of a woman who knew and worked with Carolyn Warmus. It was almost too good to be true.


The New York tabloids had a field day with the story. They called Carolyn Warmus a "Sex Tigress", "A Woman Obsessed", "Black Widow" and numerous other titles that underlined the sexual side of the case. They pursued every lead in the story no matter how small and the nightly news reported on legal developments by the hour. Everywhere in the media, people were talking about the "Fatal Attraction" murder case in Westchester. Newsday said: "It's beginning to read like a script for "Twin Peaks"...With Warmus' indictment in January, the curtains were pulled back on Westchester's posh bedroom communities, revealing the sordid drama that cinema is made of." The Toronto Star said: "Carolyn Warmus, at times so demure, so alluring, was every bit as obsessive and lethal as her fictional counterpart. The real life case is even harder to believe than the fiction!" The case became even more sensationalized when it was rumored that Paul Solomon had sold story rights to HBO for an undisclosed sum of money. Ultimately there would be not one, but two movies made about the case.

In January 1990, a Westchester County grand jury heard testimony and reviewed evidence in the Betty Jeanne Solomon murder case. On February 2, Carolyn Warmus was indicted for second-degree murder and a warrant for her arrest was issued. A few days later, she surrendered in White Plains Court where Westchester County D.A.'s investigators took her into custody. At arraignment, Warmus was ordered held on $250,000 bail and sent to the county jail for processing.

The media came out in droves for the trial. The major networks and cable TV reporters gathered daily in the lobby of the Westchester County Court building to do their interviews and news videos. "It was horrendous!" Constantino said recently. "Every day, I walked into the lobby into hordes of reporters. They would try to pump me over and over for information." As witnesses walked through the first-floor checkpoint and prepared to board the elevators, reporters descended upon them with a barrage of questions. Photographs of the defendant were especially at a premium.

Early in the trial Carolyn appeared in a short, very tight, very sexy miniskirt that had photographers snapping away and film crews tripping over each other to get a better view. A photo of Carolyn, wearing a short skirt, which exposed her nicely formed legs, appeared in the nation's newspapers and news magazines over the next few months. Always dressed to perfection in designer clothes, Carolyn paraded each day into the courthouse more like a model on a runway than a murder defendant. With her blonde hair, confident style and voluptuous body, she was a "femme fatale" right out of 1940s film noir, a woman who broke all the rules. She was a symbol of a love gone wrong, an affair that spiraled out of control until it ended in murder and betrayal. She was the rich, spoiled heiress on trial for her life who wanted a man so much, she was willing to kill to have him all for herself.

The trial

Preparation for the trial took months. Prosecutors, led by Assistant District Attorney James A. McCarty, 38, spent a great deal of time going over evidence, re-interviewing witnesses and planning case strategy. McCarty was already a trial veteran by the time the Warmus case was handed to him. By 1991, he already tried seven murder cases and won convictions in six. He was considered a fine prosecutor and enjoyed the respect of his peers, the police and many defense attorneys as well. But he was well aware of the avalanche of publicity already generated by the salacious aspects of the case.

"The Fatal Attraction" murder case was on the front pages of the nation's press for months and though coverage had subsided, it was sure to flame up once again as soon as the trial got underway. And the spectacle of Carolyn Warmus on the witness stand had the media salivating with anticipation. They couldn't wait for the sexy, female killer, heiress to a fortune, to take the stand and proclaim her innocence while her lover-victim-stooge sat in the courtroom, movie contract firmly in his pocket and a look of complete bewilderment on his face. Reporters lived for a story like this.

For the defense, Warmus hired David Lewis, 35, a nationally known attorney who once represented Panamanian President Manuel Noriega. He was well regarded and had the tenacity and skill of an expert trial attorney. Once the president of the influential New York Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, Lewis was a formidable opponent who hated to lose and in a case of this magnitude, he would be at his best. Accustomed to high-profile cases, Lewis was not intimidated by all the attention. "I love trying cases and this one offers a tremendous opportunity for me to exercise my skills," he told the press.

On the bench was the enigmatic, unpredictable, Judge John D. Carey, 66. Carey's erratic behavior on the bench was well known and his antics were part of Westchester courtroom legend. He was also known as a defender of civil rights and would not tolerate any sort of prosecutorial error. A graduate of Harvard Law School and former mayor of the city of Rye, Carey had a long career in law that included service for the United Nations on the Subcommittee on Human Rights. Often cantankerous and stubborn, he was considered a difficult judge by many of the attorneys who appeared in his court. He was not well liked by law enforcement either. "He gave Lewis carte blanche in the courtroom. I think he was enamored with Lewis' reputation. He let Lewis do anything he wanted basically. He reminded me of Judge Ito," Constantino said.

The trial opened on January 14, 1991, in a tenth-floor courtroom in White Plains, N.Y., amid a flurry of media attention. Carolyn strolled into court wearing a tight, sexy outfit that had her attorney cringing and reporters struggling to get a photo. She sat at the defense table in the middle of two bodyguards and rarely turned her head to look at any of the spectators in the packed courtroom.

"Are we ready to begin?" asked Judge Carey. After the preliminaries were completed, A.D.A. McCarty rose and gave his opening statement. In a calm and clear voice, McCarty outlined the case and evidence against the defendant. He said the prosecution would bring "to this courtroom witnesses who will testify and introduce items of evidence that will prove beyond a reasonable doubt that Carolyn Warmus is responsible for the death of Betty Jeanne Solomon." He went through Paul Solomon's relationship with Warmus, the Vincent Parco connection, the .25-caliber Beretta equipped with a silencer, and the purchase of the ammunition from Ray's Sport Shop and the obsessive, clinging nature of Carolyn's romantic relationships. He asked the jury to listen to the evidence, analyze it, use common sense and "if you do that I'm confident that you will find that the truth fits that on January 15, 1989, Carolyn Warmus killed Betty Jeanne Solomon."

David Lewis rose from the defense table and walked to the front of the jury box. A bear of a man with a full beard and a steady convincing demeanor, Lewis was comfortable in the spotlight and never wavered in his statements. He cast suspicion on Paul Solomon and said that "this is a man who lied to his wife...lied to her face and he lied for his own purposes so he could be out with Carolyn and maybe others before Carolyn." Lewis attacked the credibility of Vincent Parco whose testimony he knew would be devastating to his client. "Vincent Parco is the master in setting people up to take a fall for acts that he committed, that he won't own up to...You'll also learn that he's capable of saying anything!" He appealed to the jury's sense of fairness and the prosecution's lack of evidence. As Lewis moved from the podium, his voice rose in closing, "I will return to you and ask you for a verdict of not guilty and I will tell you then, as I tell you now, that we believe justice demands it and the law requires it!"

And so after almost two years to the very day that Betty Jeanne Solomon was shot in cold blood in the comfort of her own home, the trial of her alleged killer began.

Paul Solomon tells his story

On February 7, 1991, Paul Solomon was called to the stand to tell the jury what he knew about his wife's death. Devoid of the full beard he wore at the time of the murder, Solomon took the stand amidst a sense of anticipation by the prosecution as well as the defense. It was no secret that part of the defense strategy was to place suspicion on Paul Solomon. Lewis wanted the jury to see Solomon as the philandering husband who had a valid motive for doing away with his wife. The defense wanted the jury to believe that a middle-aged man like Solomon would be willing to do anything to share his bed with a desirable, voluptuous woman like Carolyn Warmus. Dressed in a dark suit and matching tie, he sat uncomfortably in the witness chair while the sordid details of his private life became center stage.

He told the court of his failed marriage, his several girlfriends in past years, including Carolyn, and of the terrible night when he found Betty Jeanne dead on his living room floor. Under detailed questioning by A. D. A. James McCarty, Solomon went on to say that he felt guilty about his sexual relationship with Carolyn and wanted to break up with her. "I cared for Carolyn very much," he said. "I felt guilty about the sex...I was not going to divorce Betty Jeanne." But he had intercourse and oral sex with Carolyn on several occasions during the year. "It's very hard to resist Carolyn," Solomon said as he reached for the water pitcher.

After McCarty finished his questioning, it was time for the defense to have a go at Paul Solomon. David Lewis, who had prepared weeks in advance for this moment, began his methodical destruction of Betty Jeanne's husband on the witness stand. Referring to his past girlfriends Lewis asked how many affairs he had in the past.

"Could you define the word affair please?" asked Solomon.

"You know what adultery is?" said Lewis.

"During my marriage, the nineteen years I was married, I have known a couple other people, yes."

"You're having trouble admitting to this, is that the problem?" Lewis shouted back. He also made the jury aware that Solomon had received immunity from prosecution when he testified before the grand jury

"You knew that by testifying you would get immunity, right?" Lewis asked.

"Yes, that's what I was told," Solomon replied.

"And you would get immunity from being prosecuted as the killer of your wife, right?"

Solomon's voice rose in anger. "You mean prosecuted for the crime that was committed, yes!"

"You know that you could have waived immunity, right?"

"Correct," Solomon said.

"But you didn't do that?"

"No. I did not," Solomon replied. Lewis was scoring big points with the jurors who he hoped were beginning to see Solomon in a different light. But any respect or sympathy the jury had for Paul Solomon evaporated when Lewis revealed that Solomon had made a great deal of money from Betty Jeanne's death.

"You have a deal with Citadel productions and HBO, right?"

"I believe so, yes," Solomon said, looking embarrassed. Lewis asked if it were true that he received $25,000 up front, $100,000 if the movie is made and $30,000 consulting fee.

"I'm kind of interested in hearing this because I don't know the figures," Solomon said.

"You signed the contract?" asked Lewis.

"I know I signed the contract."

"You don't know the movie is called The Paul Solomon Story? You don't know that?" Lewis shouted.

"My great hope was that it wouldn't be made," he said meekly.

Lewis pounced for the kill. "Let me get this straight now, Mr. Solomon. You signed a movie contract for money to not make a movie. Is that what you're telling us!" The room erupted in laughter and whatever credibility Solomon once had was demolished. A short time later, after six days of grueling, often-contentious testimony, a tired, whipped and humiliated Paul Solomon walked off the stand.

The P.I.

Private investigator Vincent Parco, a middle-aged, balding man who spoke with a heavy New York City inflection, took the stand on February 21. Tom Warmus described Parco's speech as "a dialect or accent, almost like a Looney Tune or comic character, almost not a normal-type voice." Dressed in a gray suit and burgundy tie, Parco listened carefully to the oath and said loudly "I do!" as he sat down in the witness chair. Some law enforcement professionals do not hold private investigators in high regard. They sometimes work on the fringe of the law and frequently resort to unethical methods in order to get the job done. In his opening statement, even McCarty warned the jury about Parco's reputation: "He is testifying under a cooperation agreement and he's not very credible. Vincent Parco bears no resemblance to TV private investigators like Tom Selleck. By his own account he did a very sleazy thing."

Upon questioning, Parco explained how he came to meet Carolyn Warmus when she appeared in his office a few years before. She hired him to do some investigative work regarding a previous boyfriend. He told the court that Carolyn later asked him on several occasions to get a gun for her. "She had mentioned that there was a series of burglaries in her neighborhood, which is very common in New York City," he said. But she also mentioned a woman in Westchester that concerned her. She said that she needed the gun for protection. Parco said that at first he considered going to another state to simply buy the gun over the counter. Carolyn also told Parco that she had I.D. that wasn't hers. "She told me that one of the employees or teachers in her school had left a pocketbook or wallet in the locker room and that she had picked up some identification that she might use in the future," Parco said.

He went on to describe how the subject of a silencer came up and how Carolyn was very interested in this device. "And from that time on she became persistent about getting a silencer for the firearm," he said on the stand. "At some point I told her that an arbitrary price probably would be about $2,500 for the gun and silencer. She agreed to pay any price." During the week of January 7, 1989, a week before the murder, Parco said he delivered the .25-caliber Beretta handgun with a silencer to Carolyn's apartment. A day after the murder, Parco said Carolyn called and told him that a "teacher's wife has been stabbed or bludgeoned eight or nine times." She said the police had questioned her about the incident but she denied any involvement. "I said 'Are you sure she wasn't shot?' and she said no and I asked her, 'What about the gun?' and she said she wanted me to pick it up," Parco said during testimony. Later, Parco also testified that Carolyn told him she threw away the gun on a parkway somewhere.

Defense lawyer David Lewis wanted to show the jury that it was possible that Parco and Paul Solomon planned to frame Carolyn for Betty Jeanne's murder. Lewis emphasized Parco's lack of credibility and made sure the jury saw the witness' tendency to lie so easily.

"And one of your special skills is being able to tell a story that's a complete lie to total strangers and get them to believe it right?" Lewis asked.

"Yes," Parco said.

When you're lying to total strangers, that's when you're really being the most real. Right?"

"Yes," said Parco again.

"And the truth is the story you told when? The first time? The second time? The third time?"

"When I tell it here," Parco answered. He also said that he also became infatuated with Carolyn. He said that he had met her many times at restaurants, went out to the movies and had drinks together. But, he said, they never had sex. One time, around Christmas, Parco said, Carolyn called him and said that she was in sexy, black lingerie and wanted him to come over to her apartment. Parco said he declined the invitation.

"I was very tired and said, 'Let's do it Saturday night."

"You refused because you were tired and had a headache?" Lewis asked sarcastically.

"I didn't have a headache," Parco replied with a straight face.

The deadly phone call

"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.

The story builds

As testimony dragged on, it was becoming clear that the circumstantial web building around Carolyn Warmus was a powerful one. Forensics experts testified that the casings found in the Brooklyn metal shop matched up to the casings found at Betty Jeanne's side on January 15, 1989. When Det. Constantino testified, he outlined the case from beginning to end, much to the dismay of the defense team.

From his arrival at the death scene, through the many months of investigation, countless interviews, repeated disappointments, late nights and early mornings, working on nothing but the Betty Jeanne Solomon murder, probably no one knew the case, in all its excruciating detail better than Det. Constantino. For two days, McCarty guided his witness step by step through the accumulation of evidence and statements. On the third day, David Lewis got his chance to examine the witness. For the next four and a half days, Lewis kept Constantino on the stand. His relentless questioning and attention to detail had the detective squirming at times. "A bear in a three-piece-suit. He was the best," Constantino said recently, "The best attorney who ever interviewed me. Very professional. If I ever got collared for something, that's who I would want to defend me."

The woman with the stolen license, Liisa Kattai, provided more damaging testimony. When she took the stand she told the court that she never bought ammunition at Ray's Sport Shop in New Jersey. She told the court that her license was stolen or lost when she worked at a summer job in Manhattan. During that same time she was friendly with a co-worker named Carolyn Warmus, who, at times, certainly had access to her purse. But Liisa Kattai could not say for sure that her license was stolen, only that it was missing. And whether or not Carolyn had anything to do with its disappearance, she couldn't say.

The prosecution also entered into evidence Carolyn's phone records from the day of the murder, January 15, 1989. This phone bill clearly showed that a five-minute phone call was made to Ray's Sport Shop in New Jersey at 3:02 p.m. that day. That call, along with the purchase of .25-caliber ammunition by a woman using Kattai's stolen license, was strong evidence against Warmus. But Lewis countered this move by providing a phone bill of his own. The defense phone records, which Lewis described as an original MCI phone bill belonging to Warmus, not only lacked the gun shop call, but also showed an additional call at 6:44 p.m. from Warmus' apartment to Michigan. If Carolyn made this 6:44 p.m. call then it would have been almost impossible for her to have driven up to Westchester from her Manhattan apartment and kill Betty Jeanne Solomon at 7:15 p.m.

But the prosecution team strongly suspected that the defense bill was a forgery. McCarty called to the stand technicians from MCI to testify as to the authenticity of the billing statement. They stated that the company's computer tapes definitely showed a telephone call was, in fact, made from Carolyn's phone to the Ray's Sport Shop number on the date and time in question. McCarty also established that the paper the defense telephone bill was printed on was not delivered to MCI until February 13, 1989. The bill was dated January 22, 1989. It was a crushing defeat for David Lewis and his beleaguered client.

Carolyn sulked at the defense table, her face hidden by her hands. She shifted uneasily in her seat and scribbled notes on the pad in front of her. The attorneys continued to argue the issues until Carolyn brought a halt to the proceedings and whispered something to Lewis.

"Your honor," he said, "my client informs me that she hasn't been feeling well today and that she thinks she may be sick tomorrow and have to miss the trial."

The verdict and beyond

On April 16, 1991, David Lewis gave the defense closing statements. "No one saw anything. No one saw a blonde girl go up two flights of stairs and take a gun and silencer, screw it on, get into the house, fire the shots and walk away. Nobody saw that!" he told the jury. He said that Carolyn may have been the victim of a frame-up at the hands of Vincent Parco and Paul Solomon. He dismissed the testimony of each man as a liar and said they could not be believed. As the jurors listened intently, he appealed to their sense of responsibility. "I don't envy your task. I'm glad it's not mine, but in getting ready to do it and in sending you away from me and away from Carolyn, all I can wish you is God speed."

In his closing statement, Assistant District Attorney James McCarty said that the quality of his witnesses was not his fault. "Sometimes you have to get together with a sinner to get the devil," he told the jury. "According to all the credible evidence, the devil in this case is Carolyn Warmus." He described her as "cunning, opportunistic and manipulative in dealing with other people." McCarty also pointed out that the killing of Betty Jeanne was not a crime of sudden passion. He said Carolyn plotted the murder as early as the summer of 1988 when she first asked Parco to get her a gun. He told the jury that "Betty Jeanne Solomon is entitled to a just verdict. We're entitled to a verdict based upon the credible evidence...and the only logical conclusion that can be drawn from the credible evidence in this case, is that Carolyn Warmus killed Betty Jeanne Solomon on January 15, 1989."

The jury went out for deliberations on April 17, 1991. After four days with no verdict, patience was wearing thin. On her way to court, reporters besieged Carolyn in the lobby of the courthouse. As cameras flashed in her face she let out an ear-piercing scream that echoed off the walls. When she sat at the defense table a few minutes later she was crying loudly and laid her head on the table.

"I've had it!" she yelled to her lawyer. When questioned by Judge Carey, she sobbed openly in court. "Somebody tripped me, judge, I just can't take it. I'm afraid. Nobody cares about me!"

For the next eleven nail-biting days, they tried to reach a verdict under an umbrella of wild speculation and various prophecies by the media. What was taking so long they wondered? Was Carolyn fated to go free? Was she alone guilty? Was Paul Solomon involved? Would Carolyn get life? There was much speculation in the jury room about reasonable doubt and deep concern over the lack of eyewitnesses. On the 12th day, April 27, Judge Carey made the dramatic announcement to a tense courtroom. It was a hung jury. They were hopelessly deadlocked at 8-4 in favor of conviction. One juror later said, "They couldn't put the gun in her hand in Westchester, and that made it automatically not guilty." When he left the courtroom, Paul Solomon told reporters, "My family and I are devastated by the knowledge that this nightmare must go on." Det. Constantino was equally disturbed and said, "I was very disappointed. There was no doubt in my mind that she committed this murder." The District Attorney's Office soon announced they would seek another trial.

Amidst the uproar on the tenth floor, Carolyn Warmus slipped out of view and left the courthouse unnoticed.

Trial part two

The following year, in January 1992, a second trial opened in the same White Plains courthouse. The prosecution had repaired the damage from the first trial and tightened up the loose ends. McCarty had presented evidence to a grand jury concerning the phone bill that the defense offered into evidence during the first trial. On December 4, 1991, Carolyn was indicted for forgery and tampering with physical evidence.

For the second trial, all the principal players were the same: Paul Solomon, Vincent Parco, Liisa Kattai, Det. Richard Constantino, Judge John Carey and A.D.A. James A. McCarty. There was only one significant change. David Lewis apparently had enough of Carolyn Warmus. He left the defense team and a new lawyer was hired: William Aronwald, a former federal prosecutor and well known in White Plains courts. Meanwhile, David Lewis filed a civil law suit against Tom Warmus for non-payment of his legal fees for defending his daughter.

Interest in the case had not diminished. The second trial received the same fervent media attention. It was also announced that two made-for-TV-movies were in the making and awaiting the outcome of the trial so that a proper ending could be added. Much was made of Paul Solomon selling his rights to the story while legal proceedings against his wife's alleged killer were still ongoing. And he still lived in the same apartment where the murder occurred three years before. Every day of his life, he walked over the spot where Betty Jeanne died, a fact that did not escape the attention of many people associated with the case.

When testimony began, Carolyn sat at the defense table bringing a pillow to each day's proceedings so she could put her head down on the table and rest during tedious hours. At times, reporters noticed that she appeared distant and maintained a far-away stare. There were no more designer clothes and confident airs. Instead, there was an ominous feeling that things were not going quite so well for Carolyn Warmus. After the familiar faces testified, Solomon, Kattai, Constantino, Parco, Peters and others, the case went to the jury on May 21, 1992.

After six days of deliberations and numerous requests for witness transcripts, reviews of evidence and legal clarifications, the jury reached a verdict. Judge Carey called the proceedings to order once again and the room became dead quiet.

"Will you please bring in the jury?" he said. The jury paraded in and took their seats.

"Have you reached a verdict?" Judge Carey asked.

"We have your honor," said the forewoman. And after a moment's pause, during which Carolyn's life must have surely flashed before her eyes, the verdict was announced.


Carolyn remained standing and looked straight ahead. She made no outward sign that she even heard the verdict. Newsday said "Some in the crowded courtroom gasped with the reading of the verdict, but Warmus betrayed no emotion." She was immediately handcuffed at the defense table.

"You are remanded into custody pending your sentencing," Judge Carey said. Warmus was led out of the courtroom and taken to the county jail. A few minutes later, Paul Solomon told the press: "What has been lost in this trial is that someone took Betty Jeanne's life. The right person was punished, but that doesn't bring Betty Jeanne back." McCarty said he was satisfied with the verdict and glad it was over. Det. Constantino, who worked the case from day one was also content.

"To tell you the truth," Constantino said recently, "I was elated that it was over. Relieved. This case made my life miserable for three years. Steady nights. Overtime every week. It really wore down on me."

Day of reckoning

On June 26, 1992, three and a half years after Betty Jeanne Solomon was murdered in her home, Carolyn Warmus appeared in White Plains County Court for sentencing. The courtroom was filled to capacity with the usual spectators and press people, eager to see the reaction from the unpredictable defendant. Court officers brought Warmus into the courtroom about 10 a.m. while the audience maintained a respectful silence. Gone were the stylish, designer pants, the pastel jackets and sexy, revealing outfits. She wore a loose-fitting University of Michigan sweater and blue jeans. Her soft blonde hair seemed messy and unwashed but her eyes were as wide and innocent as always. She walked directly to the defense table and sat down with her attorney William Aronwald. Her head bowed, her shoulders sagged and she slumped awkwardly into the seat.

Judge Carey said that he was unmoved by pleas for mercy from Aronwald. "No clearer case of malice aforethought than this can be imagined," Carey said. "No community that aspires to be bound by the rule of law can tolerate any such merciless slaughter." When it came time for Warmus to speak, she still proclaimed her innocence.

"I just spent time in jail for something I didn't do. It's very traumatic. I did not ever make a phone call to Ray's gun shop," she said in a soft voice. She had her hands clasped in front and as she spoke, Warmus kept her head down.

"I'm sorry, I can't hear you," said Judge Carey.

"I never made a phone call to Ray's Gun Shop...I never bought a gun or ever received a gun from Vincent Parco and I never bought a black pair of gloves from Filene's Basement. The most important thing of all, I did not kill Betty Jean Solomon. I had absolutely nothing to do with it," she said. Judge Carey shuffled papers on his desk and asked her to speak up once again.

"I'm standing here before you, Judge Carey, devastated about being sentenced for a crime I did not commit and I can only ask you for leniency because I am innocent," she said. Warmus wiped her eyes and tried to stand upright but she looked despondent and as lost as a little girl. "If I am guilty of anything at all, it was simply being foolish enough to believe the lies and promises that Paul Solomon made to me and allow myself to be manipulated by him!"

Judge Carey was unmoved. He called the murder "a hideous act, a most extreme, illegal and wanton murder." Warmus faced a minimum of 15 years to life. But Carey sentenced her to the maximum, 25 years to life. Warmus nearly collapsed. But some in the room were very satisfied. Betty Jean's sister was in the courtroom and told reporters: "To me, Carolyn Warmus is a very dangerous human being. There is no reason for what she did to my sister." Paul Solomon was not present at sentencing. Neither was Carolyn's father, or anyone else from the Warmus family.

An article appeared in the New York Times in August 2001, which stated that an appeal in her case may soon be filed. At issue for several years was the question of whether Carolyn Warmus was indigent and should the state bear the $60,000 cost for the trial transcript. She had no money and no assets. The court ruled in her favor and the 30,000-page document was provided to her lawyer. But as of January 2002, the Westchester County District Attorney's Office has received no notice of appeal. The former heiress, now convicted murderess, sits in the Bedford Prison for Women waiting for the year 2017 when she will be eligible for parole for the first time. Then, she will be 53 years old.



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