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Crime News Snapped: Behind Bars

What To Know About Celeste Beard Johnson, The Convicted Murderer Who Speaks Out In 'Snapped: Behind Bars'

Celeste Beard Johnson, who arranged the murder of her millionaire husband, was the first-ever subject of a "Snapped" episode.

By Becca van Sambeck
Celeste Johnson Ap

"Snapped" is addictive, any true crime fan will tell you. The hit Oxygen series delves into the stories of women who "snapped" and turned to murder. Through interviews with investigators, journalists and those who knew the victim or murderer, portraits of the crime and the killer emerge during each episode.

But what does the killer herself think about her crime?

That's one of the questions asked in Oxygen's series "Snapped: Behind Bars," which airs Saturday, September 25 at 8/7c on Oxygen and interviews past "Snapped" subjects who are still in prison. Sabrina Zunich was the focus of the Season 1 premiere back in February 2021, and new episodes dive into convicted murderers like Misook Wang, Tracie Wolf, and subject of the first-ever episode of "Snapped": Celeste Beard Johnson.

So, in advance of the returning episodes, here's what to know about Celeste Beard Johnson:

Who Is Celeste Beard Johnson?

In 1995, Celeste Johnson was a waitress at a country club in Austin, Texas. She had been married three times but her relationships never worked out. It was at this job, though, that the struggling server connected with Steven Beard, a 70-year-old multimillionaire. The two quickly fell in love and got married that same year. Beard even adopted her twin daughters, PEOPLE reported in 2003.

But red flags emerged. Many relatives recall they were worried Beard Johnson was simply out for the money, and she was even caught stealing jewelry that had belonged to Beard's first wife from a safety deposit box, according to the outlet. The two almost broke up then, but managed to repair their marriage. 

But Beard Johnson struggled with depression and suicidal thoughts, and eventually sought treatment at a mental health facility. There she met Tracey Tarlton. The two became close friends, although it's unclear if they were ever romantically involved, according to "Snapped."

How Did Steven Beard Die?

On October 2, 1999, Beard was shot in the stomach while he slept in his own room. He lingered for months in the hospital before going home to recover, and then eventually died from a blood clot in January of 2000, according to PEOPLE.

Beard Johnson claimed to have been sleeping in another room when he was shot. “I remember her saying, ‘This is perfect timing. We were supposed to go to Europe tomorrow,'” police Sgt. Greg Truitt  told PEOPLE. “I found that an odd thing for a wife to say after her husband had just been shot.”

How Was Celeste Beard Johnson Caught?

Suspicions swirled around Beard Johnson, as Beard's kids believed she was culpable. She even married a new man just five months after Beard's death, according to the outlet.

A shotgun shell left at the scene was eventually traced to a gun: a gun owned by Beard Johnson's friend Tracey Tarlton.

Tarlton agreed to testify against Beard Johnson in exchange for a 20-year sentence, claiming it was Beard Johnson who organized the killing. Prosecutors theorized Beard had wanted to put an end to Beard Johnson's spending habits -- so she tried to get him out of the way.

Where Is Celeste Beard Johnson Now?

Tarlton was sentenced to 20 years in prison and was released in 2011, Texas outlet KEN5 reported at the time.

Beard Johnson was sentenced to life in prison in 2003, and won't be eligible for parole until 2042. She maintained her innocence while speaking to "Snapped" in 2004.

To see what Beard Johnson has to say now, watch "Snapped: Behind Bars," premiering Saturday, September 25 at 8/7c on Oxygen.