The Barbecue Murders
In June 1975 the charred bodies of Jim Olive and his wife Naomi were discovered in a barbecue pit, in a state park in Marin County, California. Their adoptive daughter, 16 year old Marlene Olive convinced her 20 year old boyfriend, Chuck Riley (shown above) to bludgeon and strangle her mother, before shooting her father to death.
The pair attempted to dispose of the bodies by taking them to a nearby state park and burning them to a crisp in a barbecue pit, using gasoline and logs to fuel the fire, making the remains unrecognizable as human. In fact, shortly after the couple left the park, A fireman arrived to put out the fire. He mistook the Olives as the remains of a deer caracas. This allowed Marlene and Chuck to return to the barbecue pit and destroy more evidence of their crimes.
Marlene Olive was 14 when she and her family moved to Terra Linda, from Ecuador where father worked as a marketing executive for an oil company. Initially Marlene and her father were quite close, however she always had a troubled relationship with her mother, Naomi. Naomi abused drugs and alcohol, and reportedly had trouble coping with a mental illness. She would frequently call her daughter a whore and their arguments would become explosively violent.
Marlene frequently ran away from home, used drugs, shoplifted, stole her parents credit cards and even engaged in prostitution. She would often tell her friends how much she wanted to kill her mother, even attempting to poison her once. Her friends “either didn’t take her seriously or didn’t want to get involved.”
When Marlene was 15 she met 19 year old Charles ‘Chuck’ Riley. Riley was a disturbed, overweight drug dealer at her high school. Before Marlene, Chuck had never had a girlfriend. He was a lonely, virgin that dealt drugs for the popularity, not the money. He was so eager to please her, he lost weight, gave her free drugs and rides around town, he also “sometimes helped her carry out her sexual and criminal fantasies”. When she broke up with him, he tried to commit suicide, twice. She would tell him she had magical powers over him and Chuck, the naive, high school dropout, believed her. Marlene would often ask Chuck to help her murder her mother, eventually suggesting that he kill her himself.
It all came to a head when Marlene suggested they go on a shoplifting spree, stealing over $6,000 in clothes before being arrested and charged with grand larceny. Her parents threatened to send her to juvenile hall, and forbade her from seeing Riley. After a heated argument with her mother, Marlene called Chuck, telling him “Get your gun, we’ve got to kill the bitch today.”
On June 21, 1975 Marlene arranged to have her mother be home alone while she went out shopping with her father, she left the door unlocked. Riley snuck into the house where he stabbed, strangled and bludgeoned Naomi. Riley was still in the house when Jim and Marlene returned. Jim found Riley in his bed, covered in Naomi’s blood. Jim Olive picked up a knife and threatened to kill Riley, but Riley, who also had a gun, shot Jim Olive four times. Apparently Marlene didn’t want her father killed, only her mother. But after Chuck shot and killed Jim, she didn’t exactly mourn him. The couple spent the next few days living in the Olive’s house together, attending concerts and eating out using her dead parents money to pay for it all.
Marlene and Chuck enlisted the help of a friend to help clean the blood off the walls in the home. Chuck also told the friend: “We had to do it. They wouldn’t let me see her.”
After their friend informed on them to the authorities, Riley quickly confessed to the crime. Marlene was a tougher nut to crack, blaming the Hell’s Angels and saying that one parent killed the other and disappeared with the body.
Marlene Olive and Chuck Riley were eventually tried and convicted of the murders. Marlene was tried as a juvenile and was sentenced to four to six years in prison, being released at the age of 21 (Not before she managed to escape to New York City working as a prostitute to support herself).
Riley in contrast was sentenced to death. His sentence was later reduced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.
After Marlene’s release from prison she continued to get in trouble with the law, even being the ringleader of a Los Angeles counterfeiting ring. She served additional prison sentences in California for various crimes including forgery and identity theft. According to Wikipedia: “A 1992 Los Angeles Times article called her “the queen of the trashers” due to her alleged skills at committing forgery and fraud and creating false identities based on documents, such as voided checks, obtained from discarded garbage. Police said “they [had] rarely come across a street-level forger believed to be as prolific or as skilled as Olive.”