Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Eva Schoen: Tragedy in Telluride

The Scene for Murder?

TELLURIDE, Colo. (Crime Library) The East Coast has the Vanderbilts, the Rockefellers and the Kennedys families that became American dynasties still in existence today.

View of Telluride
View of Telluride

Out west, while the money may not have been as old or the dinner parties as couth, another family built a fortune integrating their business into the American lifestyle, to the extent that the brand name has become a noun, like Xerox or Kleenex.

L.S. Schoen
L.S. Schoen

The late Leonard Sam Shoen "L.S." was perfectly in tune with the changing times, renting trailers to migrating families in the post-World War II American west, branding his venture "U-Haul." Promoted by the company decals slapped on the sides of his trailers, his burgeoning fleet of roving advertisements grew into a billion-dollar business from its origin in Washington state, moving its headquarters to Phoenix as the business expanded.

Corporate infighting, though, is common in growing businesses, and the fact that Shoen's was run with his children didn't make his immune. In fact, the Shoen children, who had wanted for nothing while growing up, matured into combative, scheming adults who would eventually plot a business takeover to wrest control of the company from their own father.

Eva and Sam Schoen
Eva and Sam Schoen

Even given the stakes of the corporate family feud, few familiar with the family were not surprised when the wife of one of the Shoen children was found dead, shot by an intruder in the couple's Telluride, Colo., home. Eva Berg Shoen, 44, was married to Sam Schoen, one of L.S.'s children who sided with him in his quest to regain control of his business empire. The corporate battle had reached the courts, with the two sides preparing for trial at the time of Eva's death in 1990.

Whether it had been a random killing or was somehow connected to the corporate coup, no one knew. When answers finally came to light, they were hard for some family members to accept, and remain so to this day.


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