After Carolyn Warmus was accused of killing Betty Jeanne Solomon in 1989, the case sent the media into a frenzy over the lurid details that mirrored the film Fatal Attraction.
It reads like something out of a Hollywood script: Teacher Carolyn Warmus, a 25-year-old insurance heiress, strikes up a romance with older coworker Paul Solomon. Her new lover, however, is married — though he insists he’s going to leave her as soon as his daughter is out of the house. Warmus gets impatient. Solomon’s wife is found shot dead in her home.
That was the narrative that whipped the media into a frenzy in the late ’80s and early ’90s, as the case against Warmus was built and eventually taken to trial.
After all, there was an eerie parallel between the case and the smash hit Fatal Attraction, which had come out in 1987 and featured a woman, played by Glenn Close, becoming homicidal with jealousy after being spurned by a man who had cheated on his wife with her.
But unlike the events of that film, the details of the case of Carolyn Warmus are far from cut and dry, with conflicting stories, deadlocked juries, and a contentious piece of evidence submitted three years after the murder.
A Privileged Youth — And Ill-Fated Romances
Carolyn Warmus was born on Jan. 8, 1964, in Troy, Michigan, into a life of luxury. Her father, Thomas, was a successful insurance executive who reportedly owned multiple homes, yachts, jets, and cars and was worth over $150 million dollars.
Carolyn received a bachelor’s degree in Psychology from the University of Michigan and later a degree in teaching from Columbia University.
According to friends interviewed in a 1990 New York Magazine piece, Warmus tended to chase older, “unattainable men.”
In one such incident, she had been dating teaching assistant Paul Laven at Michigan for a few months when he broke things off, becoming engaged to another student shortly after.
Warmus allegedly began contacting Levan at home and work and later broke into the new couple’s apartment. According to a 1990 New York Times article, she even left a note for the fiance at one point: “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.”
Before their wedding in 1984, Laven and his fiance got a temporary restraining order against Warmus. They said they were worried she might arrive uninvited at the ceremony or reception. After the wedding, the restraining order was made permanent.
In the wake of the incident, friends said she had become suicidal.
A few years later, in 1987, Carolyn Warmus was working as a computer teacher at Greenville Elementary in Greenburgh, New York, when she met Paul Solomon.
Carolyn Warmus Meets Paul Solomon
Paul Solomon was a fellow teacher — and, at 40 years old, 17 years Warmus’ senior.
Solomon had been married to his wife, Betty Jeanne, for nearly 20 years, and the two had a teenage daughter. Both Solomon and his wife worked jobs to stay financially afloat.
Those details were seemingly unimportant to Warmus and Solomon, who embarked on an affair not long after they met.
Warmus said Solomon told her he was planning to leave Betty Jeanne after their daughter, Kristan, graduated high school. According to Betty Jeanne’s mother, speaking to New York Magazine, she wasn’t so sure about the relationship herself. Friends of Betty Jeanne described Solomon as “possessive and domineering and jealous,” saying she became “quiet and reclusive” after the two got together.
“Ma,” her mother said Betty Jeanne had told her at one point, “I’m thinking about leaving him.”
The Death Of Betty Jeanne Solomon
On the evening of Jan. 15, 1989, Paul Solomon and Carolyn Warmus met for drinks before moving to the car to have sex.
When Solomon arrived at his home late that night, he claimed he found Betty Jeanne dead on the living room floor, shot nine times.
Police immediately suspected Solomon.
Under questioning, Solomon initially said he had gone bowling on the night of the 15th — but eventually admitted that he and Warmus had been together after bowling with friends.
Following Betty Jeanne’s death, Warmus and Solomon were not in contact — Solomon’s lawyer had advised severing ties with her — and the widower soon found a new girlfriend. Then, the tone of the investigation changed abruptly.
Five months after Betty Jeanne’s death, Solomon and his girlfriend went on vacation to Puerto Rico — and Warmus did too.
She reportedly called the new flame’s family, impersonating a police officer, and tried to convince them to end the woman’s relationship with Solomon.
Warmus claimed Solomon invited her to Puerto Rico. Solomon said she was stalking him, and reported her to the police. Authorities immediately became suspicious of Warmus, transitioning the case from an investigation of an unfaithful husband to that of a jilted lover.
As media interest in the case grew, it came to be called the “Fatal Attraction murder.”
The Trial Of Carolyn Warmus
Finally, in February 1990, just over a year after Betty Jeanne Solomon’s death, Carolyn Warmus was indicted for her murder, and the trial began in January 1991.
“She would do anything to get Betty Jeanne out of the picture,” prosecutor James McCarty said at trial, according to CNN.
The prosecution pointed to Vincent Parco, a private investigator who said Warmus had previously tried to hire him to find compromising information about a married bartender she was dating to break up the man’s marriage.
The prosecution and Parco claimed that just days before Betty Jeanne’s death, Warmus had bought a .25 caliber gun along with a silencer — the same kind of weapon believed to have killed Betty Jeanne.
However, no actual physical evidence tied Warmus to the crime, and in the end, the jury could not convict on the circumstantial arguments. After a 12-day deadlock, the case ended in a mistrial.
But Carolyn Warmus was far from in the clear.
New Evidence Suddenly Emerges
Less than a year later, in January 1992, a new trial would begin in earnest. The critical difference was that this time, prosecutors claimed they had new evidence: a bloody glove that supposedly belonged to Warmus — and which Solomon claimed to have found in his home three years after his wife’s murder.
Warmus’ attorney, William Aronwald, remains skeptical of the glove’s late introduction.
“It wasn’t available at the first trial and then suddenly materialized,” Aronwald told The Journal News. “There was no way of determining whether or not it was the glove depicted in the photographs. Number two, there was no way of knowing whether the glove had been tampered with.”
The jury deliberated for six days, but this time, the accusation stuck, and they found Warmus guilty of second-degree murder.
Warmus begged for leniency from the judge but was handed the maximum sentence for her conviction: 25 years to life in prison.
“I did not kill Betty Jeanne Solomon,” Warmus said, according to Oxygen. “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.”
Following the verdict, Solomon asked to be left alone.
“I beg of you all now to allow Kristan and me and our families to go forward,” Paul Solomon said. “I will not make another statement. We need to now have the time to properly go forward.”
Where Is Carolyn Warmus Today?
Over two decades into her sentence, Warmus received an MRI and discovered she had a “massive brain tumor.”
She was denied parole around that time, refusing to agree with her conviction for a crime she maintains she didn’t commit. In prison, her options for treatment were limited.
“I am a victim. I’m the collateral damage,” Warmus said at the time. “I’m sitting here in prison for 25 years, and may end up dying shortly in prison and not see the light of day again.”
Warmus, released from prison on parole in 2019, said she underwent multiple surgeries while incarcerated and many more subsequently.
She’s still working to clear her name, pushing to have multiple items — including the glove — from the crime scene DNA tested. To date, no testing has been done.
After reading about the murky case of Carolyn Warmus, learn about Kelly Cochran, the ‘Devil Woman’ of Michigan who murdered her husband and lover. Then, read the story of Candy Montgomery, the suburban housewife who chopped her best friend up with an axe for sleeping with her husband.