John Markle’s desk as he left it the night of the killings. His body was found in front of desk. (Little Rock Police Department photo)

Markle arrived at Stephens in March 1979 after a stint at the well-known New York investment firm Salomon Brothers Inc. John Markle

On July 30, 1985, he made what was believed to be the first international trade of listed U.S. government securities. His job responsibilities included consistently monitoring movements in the esoteric futures markets.

During his tenure with Stephens, Markle also received a number of promotions and aided in the financial portfolios of co-owners Jack and W.R. “Witt” Stephens.

“He was crazy about the two [Stephens] brothers,” a friend told the Arkansas Gazette, adding that Markle was “probably one of the most respected men in the market.”

But trouble arrived in the fall of 1987 as Stephens became aware of a report by one of its clients, Chicago securities trading firm Geldermann Inc. The document suggested that Markle manipulated a secret account in the name of his mother.

On Oct. 6, 1987, the compliance officer for Stephens, Phil Shellenbarger, was asked about the secret account.

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Markle would place an order and wait until the end of the trading day before indicating which account the order was for, Shellenbarger determined. Profits went to the McCambridge account, while losses were entered into the Stephens account.

A day after the report was given to the company, Shellenberger and other Stephens representatives confronted Markle. He was placed on medical leave, with the company citing a history of heart problems. Markle had suffered a heart attack two years earlier.

During the week of Nov. 9, 1987, Geldermann sent more information, which ultimately led to Markle’s firing Nov. 13, 1987, three days before the killings.

Markle tried to settle the account by asking that $800,000 of his mother’s assets be placed into a Stephens account, with his mother receiving the interest income until she died. At that point, the money would revert to Stephens.

That proposal was rejected by Stephens, the Arkansas Democrat reported. The company instead said it would consider legal action unless it received $1 million in restitution, according to investigation findings. Markle was given 30 days to work on the restitution before action would be taken.

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