Episode 388:

Spill the Milk

The Murder of Barbara Finch


The Unsolved Disappearance of Suzanne Lyall


Episode 388: Spill the Milk

This week, Karen and Georgia cover the murder of Barbara Finch and the unsolved disappearance of Suzanne Lyall.

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The Murder of Barbara Finch

The Murder of Barbara Finch Notes:

Header Image Source: Photo by Jek Low/Alamy

Other Images:

1. Barbara Finch


"For all the ink spilled on a murder trial that took place in 1960, you’d think there was ever any question about who pulled the trigger.

There was never really any doubt that Dr. Bernard Finch and his lover, Carole Tregoff, had killed Finch’s wife, Barbara, resulting in a case that would dominate tabloid headlines for months, only to fade into obscurity.

In 1959, Dr. Finch, a 41-year-old surgeon and “serial philanderer” living in Los Angeles, was having an affair with Tregoff, his 22-year-old secretary. When the pair, both married, signaled their intent to leave their spouses and start a new life together, Barbara Finch hired a private investigator to follow her husband.

By proving adultery, the logic goes, Mrs. Finch stood to gain much of her husband’s fortune, worth a reported $6 million in today’s dollars.

After Barbara Finch filed for divorce, though, and won a court order to freeze her husband’s financial accounts, she was found dead in the family garage with a bullet between her shoulders..."


Source: “An LA Murder and a 1950s Tabloid Frenzy” (No More Normal substack) 2021

The Unsolved Disappearance of Suzanne Lyall

The Unsolved Disappearance of Suzanne Lyall Notes:

Other Images:

1. Suzanne Lyall

2. National Center for Missing & Exploited Children 


"[Suzanne was s]hy and creative—known to spring from the shower with soapy hair to jot down a poem before it slipped her mind—Suzanne “was the darling of the family,” says her sister Sandra Morton, 30. (Brother Steven is 33.) After graduating with honors from Ballston Spa High, she attended SUNY College at Oneonta, N.Y., for a year before transferring to Albany for its computing program and to be near boyfriend Rich Condon, 23, a fellow student. “She wanted to spread her wings,” Douglas says.

The Lyalls had no cause for concern when they last spoke with Suzanne on Sun., March 1, 1998. “She was worried about her mid-terms but seemed really happy,” says Mary. Then on Tuesday morning they received a call from Condon telling them she hadn’t returned to her dorm. Campus police assured the Lyalls that students routinely go missing for short times for innocent reasons. But the family’s dread was immediate. “I knew something awful had happened,” says Douglas. “Suzie was not a risk-taker. She didn’t party or use alcohol or drugs.”

Campus police confirmed as much but didn’t call in state police until Wednesday—later than the Lyalls would have liked. (“They do a good job,” says Douglas, “but if someone is missing they need to defer to the experts.”) As it was, clues were few. Suzanne had left the computer store at a local mall at 9:20 p.m. and had reportedly been seen getting off a bus on campus a short time later. Her ATM card was used the following morning—to withdraw just $20 at a convenience store in Albany—but there the trail ends, “The worst thing is not knowing,” says Renee Janack-Cook, 22, a high school friend. “Was she fearful? Did she just leave?”..."


Source: “For Suzanne” by Anne-Marie O’Neil (People, 2000)

Karen's Episode Sources

  1. “Satin Pumps: The Moonlit Murder that Mesmerized the Nation” (Steve Kosareff)
  2. “Murder in Black and White” by Steven Mikulan (LA Mag) 2013
  3. “People v. Finch” (California Court of Appeals) 1983
  4. “Carole Tregoff” (Murderpedia)
  5. “The Fascinating Finch Affair: Noted Mystery Writer Describes Courtroom Circus” by Eric Ambler (Life Magazine) 1960
  6. “An LA Murder and a 1950s Tabloid Frenzy” (No More Normal substack) 2021
  7. “Raymond Bernard Finch and Carole Tregoff Trials: 1960 & 1961” (Encylopedia.com)
  8. “Doc’s Love-Murder Case Rivals Top Mystery Yarn'' by Jack Lefler (Associated Press) 1959
  9. “The Murder of Barbara Finch with Steve Kosareff” (Most Notorious podcast) 2023
  10. “Finch Girlfriend Jailed: Charged in Wife Murder” by Ray Duncan (Pasadena Independent) 1959