By: JOHN ARMSTRONG
ARIZONA AUTHORITIES investigating the drowning death of newspaper heiress Margaret Lesher are “evaluating and reviewing” a report that her husband brutally beat his former wife, the San Francisco Chronicle reported.
Lesher, 65, whose funeral was held May 21, was married at the time of her death to Collin “T.C.” Thorstenson, a buffalo trainer and rodeo rider.
The former chairman of the board of Lesher Communications in Northern California was found dead, dressed only in her underwear, in eight feet of water on May 14 while the couple was on a camping trip near Scottsdale, Ariz. An autopsy determined that Lesher was legally drunk at the time of death but sheriff’s deputies reported no sign of foul play.
The Chronicle story disclosed that, in an interview, Thorstenson’s ex-wife, Kathi Thorstenson, said that in the mid-1980s Thorstenson broke her neck and broke her nose twice while in a wild rage.
The 44-year-old Wyoming woman, who divorced Thorstenson in 1992, was quoted by the Chronicle as saying: “I didn’t like the animal he became. He broke my nose twice. He drank whiskey once a year, and he would go insane.”
Although still insisting that Thorstenson is not a suspect in Lesher’s death, deputies also have talked twice to Lauralee Sheckles, a wealthy, 43-year-old Scottsdale woman, who said Thorstenson broke off their engagement in 1993 when she demanded they sign a prenuptial agreement. He and Lesher did not have a such an agreement.
According to the Chronicle, investigators said they are keeping the case of Lesher’s death open and are not ruling out any possibility until they get toxicology reports.
Thorstenson told deputies he awoke about 3 a.m. at their campsite and found his wife missing. After searching for her for several hours, he called police, he said.
Kathi Thorstenson said in the interview that she met Thorstenson at a Gillette, Wyo., bar in 1983.
Later in their relationship, she recalled, there were dozens of beatings and rages.
“He told me there were days when he wanted to kill me,” she said. The women said she kept in touch with him after their divorce
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?copyright: Editor & Publisher May 31, 1997