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Crime News The Fatal Attraction Murder

She Murdered Her Lover's Wife And Earned Nickname 'Fatal Attraction' Killer. But Is That The Whole Story?

Carolyn Warmus has always maintained her innocence in the murder of Betty Jeanne Solomon, who was shot to death nine times in her home in 1989.

By Becca van Sambeck
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"Fatal Attraction," an erotic thriller, was a smash hit when it came out in 1987. The tale of a scorned woman stalking and tormenting her married lover shocked audiences — but such a lurid tale couldn't happen in real life, right?

Just years later, a story with a similar angle generated news headlines across the country. In 1989, Betty Jeanne Solomon, a married mother and pillar of her New York community, was found dead in her Greenburgh home. She had been shot nine times, The New York Times reported in 1992. The prime suspect? Carolyn Warmus, a 25-year-old woman who was having an affair with Betty Jeanne's husband, Paul Solomon, at the time of the murder. 

The shocking case is covered in depth in "The Fatal Attraction Murder" a two-part special airing on Oxygen on Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27 at 8/7c. Before watching the special, learn more about who Warmus was, why she was convicted, and what she says today about the murder.

Who Is Carolyn Warmus?

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Warmus grew up in a life of wealth and privilege: She was the daughter of a millionaire insurance executive — her father owned eight jets, two yachts, 15 cars, and multiple homes, according to a New York Magazine article published in March 1990. She lived in a wealthy suburb of Detroit before earning a a bachelor's degree in psychology from the University of Michigan and then going on to obtain a Master's degree in teaching at Columbia University, reported The New York Times in 1990.

Those who knew her described her as being a nice, normal person, someone who didn't stand out. She was "the kind of girl you'd take home to mom," one anonymous neighbor told The New York Times, with another neighbor describing her as "a quiet person, very pleasant. This was not a wild person in any way.''

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Other acquaintances, though, noted she had a complicated relationship with her father, who was often distant. They also claimed she had a competitive relationship with her sister according to New York Magazine. Her family relationships weren't the only strained ones in her life: She had a history of "chasing unattainable men," the magazine reported, and romantic relationships that went awry.

A History Of Relationships Gone Wrong

One such relationship started in 1983, when Warmus was a sophomore at the University of Michigan. She began dating a teaching assistant named Paul Laven, but when he broke it off and became engaged to another student, Warmus was enraged, reported the New York Times. Warmus left phone calls, harassed Laven at work, and broke into the couple's apartment and had to be removed by police, according to court records cited by the paper. The New York Times reported that Warmus even left a note to Laven's fiancée that read, ''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.''

The couple became so concerned by her behavior they obtained a permanent injunction to keep her away from them before their July 1984 wedding, according to New York Magazine . Even after the wedding, Warmus lingered on the relationship — she converted to Judaism, Paul’s religion, New York Magazine reported. Friends said she was so depressed she was having suicidal thoughts, the outlet reported.

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After moving to New York City, she briefly dated a married bartender in New Jersey. She ended up hiring a private investigator named Vincent Parco to look into him, according to New York Magazine  Jim Russo, Parco's field investigator, told New York Magazine that Warmus wanted to obtain [DK(5] compromising photos of him in order to break up his marriage. When they were unable to get any, Russo alleged Warmus wanted to produce fake images to send to the bartender's wife.

In 1987, while working at Greenville Elementary School in Greenburgh, New York, Warmus met fellow teacher Paul Solomon, 40 at the time. Paul was married, but that didn't stop a romantic relationship from blooming. Warmus left the school in 1988 to work in the Pleasantville school district, but the affair continued.

The Murder Of Betty Jeanne Solomon

Paul had been married to Betty Jeanne for years, and the two had a 15-year-old daughter together named Kristan. Betty Jeanne was a 40-year-old account executive with a collections agency, and was well-liked within her community. Those who knew her said she was "always there for friends in trouble," according to New York Magazine. Her relationship with Paul wasn't always smooth sailing, though. 

The pair had met while attending SUNY New Paltz in New York, and college friends claimed there was a distinct change in Betty Jeanne after they started dating, New York Magazine reported. Betty Jeanne, who was described as sweet and thoughtful, became quieter and more withdrawn after dating Paul, who they described as controlling. 

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Betty Jeanne's mother told the magazine at one point she was considering leaving Paul. Still, she decided to stick it out — until she was shot to death nine times in her own home on Jan. 15, 1989. 

Police zeroed in on Paul as a suspect. He did provide an alibi: He said he was bowling with friends, reported New York Magazine. But as investigators kept an eye on Paul, they noticed a woman following him around: Carolyn Warmus. They discovered Paul's alibi was tied to Carolyn: he did meet his friends to go bowling, but then left to meet Warmus at a Holiday Inn in Yonkers. They had drinks there, then had sex in a car, The New York Times reported. When he got home, he said, he found Betty Jeanne dead.

Warmus' behavior after the murder also concerned investigators. Paul broke off their relationship and started dating someone new. Five months after Betty's murder, Paul vacationed in Puerto Rico with his new girlfriend, and Warmus followed, according to The New York Times. She even contacted the woman's family and pretended to be a cop, insisting they convince her to break up with Paul, according to New York Magazine.

The Trial of Carolyn Warmus

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Just months later, on Feb. 2, 1990, Warmus was indicted on charges of second-degree murder, according to The New York Times. Investigators believed right before she met Paul at the Yonkers Holiday Inn, she shot and killed Betty. 

Warmus adamantly maintained her innocence, but her lack of alibi and romantic history were held as evidence against her — as was the gun and silencer the private investigator, Parco, testified she bought from him, The New York Times reported in 1992. It was a match for the weapon used to kill Betty. But it was still mostly a circumstantial case. In April 1991, her first trial ended with a hung jury, according to 1992 New York Times report.

Then, a new piece of evidence was uncovered: a black cashmere glove with blood on it, found in a closet by Paul after the first trial, according to New York Magazine. Warmus' defense team at Carolyn’s second trial argued the prosecution couldn't prove the glove belonged to her, and argued Paul was framing her for the murder. But on May 27, 1992, she was convicted of second-degree murder and a separate charge of owning a weapon, The New York Times reported that month.

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Speaking the first time all trial, Warmus tearily protested she was innocent: "I did not kill Betty Jeanne Solomon. I don't want to spend time in jail for something I didn't do. If I'm guilty of anything at all it was simply being foolish enough to believe the lies and promises that Paul Solomon made to me," she said, according to The New York Times.

Warmus was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison for the murder of Betty Jeanne, as well as a sentence, to run concurrently, of five to 15 years for the weapons charge.

Where Is Carolyn Warmus Now?

Warmus was released from prison on parole in July 2019, after spending 27 years behind bars, The New York Post reported. During her parole hearing, she continued to insist on her innocence.

Speaking of Paul, she added, “I sort of feel like he took advantage of the situation when he sort of pursued me, date[d] me and stuff. I didn’t realize he was married initially but …  I’m so ashamed that I did not end the relationship once I found out that he was married. I really wish that I could change all of that.

Warmus, who will be on parole for the rest of her life, is now fighting for her exoneration. In May 2021, Westchester County District Attorney Mimi Rocah agreed to test multiple items from the crime scene for DNA — including the glove that led to her conviction, the New York Post reported at the time. Warmus argues these DNA tests will help clear her name.

To learn more about the murder and hear what Warmus has to say today about the crime, watch "The Fatal Attraction Murder" airing on Oxygen on Saturday, March 26 and Sunday, March 27 at 8/7c.