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Who is Celeste Beard's friend Tracey Tarlton? ABC's Who Do You Believe? to continue examining Steven Beard's death

Celeste's twin daughters open up about her mother and her best friend Tracey Tarlton on Who Do You Believe? (Image via Jordan Strauss/ABC)
Celeste's twin daughters open up about her mother and her best friend Tracey Tarlton on Who Do You Believe? (Image via Jordan Strauss/ABC)
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Varsha Narayanan

This week's episode of ABC's Who Do You Believe? will continue to examine more details of Steven Beard's death. Episode 4 of the series will air on Tuesday, May 24, 2022, at 10.00 pm ET.

Self-made millionaire and TV tycoon Steven Beard's death shook Austin. In the early morning hours of October 2, 1999, an intruder, later identified as Tracey Tarlton, broke into his house and shot him in the stomach while he was in bed. He called 911 himself and reported the incident. After going back and forth while being treated in the hospital, Beard reportedly died of a blood clot on January 22, 2000.


Who is Tracey Tarlton? Profile explore ahead of Episode 4 of Who Do You Believe?

Episode 4 of Who Do You Believe? will reflect what transpired with Steven Beard's murder involving Tracey Tarlton. After Episode 3, more information will be revealed; more backstories will be brought out, shocking viewers, and sending chills down their spine.

The official synopsis of the episode titled What the Sisters Saw - Part 2 reads:

"The riveting battle between Celeste Beard and her twin teenage daughters continues to unfold in part two of this unbelievable true-crime story. Secret recordings and a shocking confession point suspicion toward Celeste and her best friend’s possible involvement."

The "best friend" referred to in the episode's bio is none other than prime accused Tracey Tarlton. After the victim's death, her charges were reportedly upped to murder. Police discovered that the personalized shotgun with the indicted was precisely similar to the spent shell found on Steven Beard's bedroom floor.

Although she initially denied it, Tarlton later admitted to shooting Beard. She also struck a deal with the prosecutors - in exchange for testifying against Celeste Beard, the victim's ex-wife, she would get a 20-year sentence in prison.

Soon after marrying Celeste, Beard adopted her three daughters from a previous marriage and gave them a semblance of a family, one that they didn't get before. Her daughters were highly attached to their step-father but didn't see the tragedy coming.

Celeste reportedly met Tarlton when she checked herself into St. David's Clinic for treatment for depression. According to Suzy Spencer, one of Austin's best-known crime authors, the latter has had a history of homosexual relationships and has been open about the same since she was a teen. She was also convinced that her new best friend wanted something more than friendship.

Allison Wetzel and Gary Cobb, the prosecutors in charge of the case, asserted that Celeste had manipulated the accused into killing her ex-husband. After more than two days of testimony, Tarlton described how Celeste had orchestrated the time and place of the shooting. She said:

"She said that she had a plan and she wanted me to shoot him. By this time, cared about her tremendously, and I did believe her. I believed what she told me, and I believed that she cared in the same way for me."

Celeste reportedly married her fifth husband, Austin Carpenter Spencer Johnson, in July 2000, six months after Beard's death.

Celeste's defense attorney, Dick DeGuerrin, tried his best to convince the court otherwise. He labeled Tarlton's testimony "either delusional, or fabrications, or lies or fantasies … but it's not the truth." He also said that the two women didn't have a romantic relationship and that Tarton took advantage of Celeste.

However, testimony from Celeste's twin daughters, Kristina and Jennifer, turned the tides in Tarlton's favor as they described their mother's ill behavior towards them and recorded her phone calls.

Celeste reportedly told Kristina that she had hired someone to kill Tracey in one of the calls. The witness said:

"The day she told me about Tracey, I knew. You only want someone dead because maybe you put them up to it, and I thought, 'I know now she's guilty.' I had to separate myself from her. It was hard."

The phone call was everything the court needed to know. After 72 hours, the jury returned a guilty verdict that sent Celeste to prison.


Tracey Tarlton was reportedly handed ten years in jail and another 12 on probation. She made parole in August 2011 and was eventually released from prison. Initially, she found it hard to live in society and challenging to adapt to regular life with a prior criminal record as it hindered her employment and living situation.

However, people in her community in San Antonio helped her ease back into everyday life and reportedly held a fundraiser for her to get a jumpstart. Since then, Tracey Tarlton has chosen to live a quiet life.


Edited by Suchitra
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