CARSON CITY — “Relationship problems” preceded the gunshot suicide of former “Beverly Hillbillies” star Max Baer Jr.’s live-in girlfriend at Baer’s Lake Tahoe home, authorities said Wednesday.
Douglas County Sheriff’s Sgt. Jim Halsey said an investigation was continuing into the death of Chere Rhodes, 30, but no foul play is suspected. He said Rhodes told officers who were called to Baer’s house Jan. 24 that she had shot herself. Halsey also said a handwritten suicide note was found.
Rhodes was flown by helicopter to Renown Regional Medical Center in Reno, where she didn’t respond to emergency care and later was placed on life support. The woman’s family took her off life support Sunday, Halsey said.
Baer, 70, an entrepreneur who played “Jethro” in the 1960s “Hillbillies” series, summoned authorities after returning home to find Rhodes with a single gunshot wound to the chest in a bedroom at his Zephyr Heights home, Halsey said. A semiautomatic handgun also was found in the room.
“She was conscious on the scene and told (officers) that it was a self-attempted suicide,” Halsey said. “There was a suicide note as well, which substantiated her statement.
“They were having some relationship issues. Whether the relationship was going to end or they were just having difficulties, I don’t know,” Halsey said.
Baer, son of Max Baer, the heavyweight champion of the 1930s, has lived at Lake Tahoe for years. He’s trying to build a hotel-casino in northern Douglas County that would include a signature oil derrick evoking the “Hillbillies” sitcom theme of dim-witted Jethro Bodine, played by Baer, and other members of his family striking oil and becoming instantly wealthy.