Did Late Billionaire Heiress Doris Duke Get Away With Murder?

Newport, R.I.: Tow truck prepares to haul away station wagon driven by Doris Duke which fatally crashed Eduardo Tirella.
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A new book from author Peter Lance about the 1966 case deemed by authorities as an "unfortunate accident" reveals a shocking new claim from the only known witness — a local paperboy who was just 13 years old at the time.

Doris Duke, heiress to a great tobacco fortune, was once the richest woman in America. Now a witness says that the late billionaire may have gotten away with murder.

In 1966, her longtime advisor, Eduardo Tirella, was mowed down in a car driven by Duke. Police in Newport, Rhode Island, investigated and deemed it “an unfortunate accident.” 

For years, the case was officially closed, but it’s being reexamined after the only known eye witness, a 13-year-old boy, finally decided to speak out. Bob Walker, the neighborhood paperboy, was approaching Duke’s estate when he heard an argument break out.

“The next thing I heard was the roar of a motor, the crash, the screaming of a man," Walker told Vanity Fair in a recent interview. "And the man's scream turning to horror of 'No!'"

Walker is telling his story for the first time with author Peter Lance, who recently released the true crime book, “Homicide at Rough Point.”

"[Tirella's] got a broken hip, but he's alive," Lance said. "He's calling out to her, 'Doris, Doris!' And what happens? She decides to commit and then she just roars over him, crushing him to death," Lance told Inside Edition.

Walker says he rode up on his bike and asked if Duke needed any help. Then, Walker says, Duke told him, “You better get the hell out of here!”

“The town was buzzing with rumors that Doris Duke had gotten away with murder — the richest woman in America, third richest woman in the world. It's a story that always haunted me my whole life,” Lance said.

According to Lance, moments before the murder happened, Tirella told Duke he was leaving her after seven years. Duke was "notoriously jealous, notoriously possessive," Lance says.

After Tirella's death, his sister filed a wrongful death suit against Duke, who was found negligent in the civil trial. The billionaire was ordered to pay the family $75,000.

An excerpt of Lance's book can be found here.

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