May 22, 2015

Fading beauty

The rise and fall of a financial empire

Lamar Cosmetics, a company which successfully catered to dreams of Hollywood glamour, filed for bankruptcy protection late this afternoon amidst allegations that rival the wildest stories to ever appear on the silver screen.

According to a statement released by the law firm representing the besieged company, this step was necessary "to provide a safety net while Lamar Cosmetics adjusts to recent changes in the global marketplace."

There is no mention in the one-page document of the canceled beauty pageant that Lamar Cosmetics sponsored, the murder of front-runner Barbara Dubois, or the rumors swirling around top Lamar Cosmetics executives regarding their relationships with the late beauty queen.

Lamar scion reacts

During an exclusive interview, Bill Lamar shared his struggle with what he called "this unfortunate situation."
"Since I arrived in Oxford a few weeks ago," Lamar said, "I have been forced to face some difficult truths, both business and personal. I knew some of them were possible, but others have completely blindsided me."
However, Lamar dismissed concerns that this could be the end of Lamar Cosmetics.
"There are times when forces beyond our control compel a business to change. We've done it before, and we'll do it again. It's just going to take a little time to make the adjustments, and that's what the bankruptcy protection provides."
When asked if Allie Lamar, founder and president of Lamar Cosmetics and his mother, is to blame for the bankruptcy, Bill Lamar declined to pin the responsibility on any one person.
"This company has always been a team effort, and my mother's contributions to the business since its inception have been invaluable," he said. "She has never hesitated to do everything possible to ensure Lamar Cosmetics' success."
Lamar would not comment on speculation that his mother would be forced to resign in the wake of this setback.

Company troubles connected to pageant murder?

Lamar Cosmetics once had high hopes for the pageant they sponsored and how it would raise the company's profile and its revenues.

When the pageant ended prematurely with a brutal murder, it was more than just a tragedy for Lamar Cosmetics — it was a financial and PR disaster.

In the weeks since Barbara Dubois was killed, it has emerged that she had close ties with the Lamar family when she was younger. Whether those ties still existed at the time of her death seems to be a matter for debate.

Bill Lamar refused to discuss his relationship with Dubois. When asked about his mother's relationship with the slain beauty, Lamar said, "You'll have to ask her."

Allie Lamar declined to comment for this report.

Sources familiar with the Dubois investigation say both Lamars have been questioned by detectives, Allie once and Bill several times.

However, the Yoknapatawpha County Sheriff's Department would not comment on whether either or both of the Lamars are considered persons of interest or suspects in the crime.

Pageant mom arrested

Earlier this week, pageant finalist Rachel Webb's mother, Erma Webb, was taken into custody on what the sheriff's department called "charges related to the Dubois homicide investigation."

A person with knowledge of the case told Crime Beat that Erma Webb allegedly poisoned the food of Barbara Dubois and others at the pageant. The sheriff's department would not comment on the claim.

Ingrid Freeman, the third pageant finalist, bristled when asked about rumors that she was one of the only ones whose food was untainted.
"I can't explain the reasoning of an old lady who's obviously not in her right mind," Freeman said. "Poor woman, you just can't believe anything she says." 
She then immediately terminated the interview.

Pageant killer still on the loose?

When Erma Webb was arrested, many Oxonians believed the investigation was complete, the murderer caught.

But after the arrest, the detectives continued to execute search warrants, including one at the Lamar residence, and interview witnesses, including Bill Lamar.

With tongues still wagging and suspicions still building, Lamar Cosmetics — and the Lamar family — will be lucky if they manage to come out of this unscathed.

Perhaps Wendy Kullman, the animal rights activist arrested for the vandalism aimed at Lamar Cosmetics, summed up the situation best.
"The people who abuse animals rarely stop there."
Then again, an employee of the sheriff's department just might have the right idea.
"If they ever do have another beauty pageant here in Oxford, perhaps the Mississippi Department of Corrections would be a better sponsor."
 

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