It’s now been confirmed the the wife of Tarzan actor Ron Ely was the victim of a murder at the couple’s Hope Ranch property in California. The incident occurred on Tuesday night when Santa Barbara Sheriff's deputies responded to a domestic disturbance call. Once there, they found Ely’s wife, Valerie, dead from apparent stab wounds.
A second, still unidentified person was also killed at the scene after being shot by police who say that person “presented a threat.” In police dispatch audio obtained by TMZ, it is clear that Ely’s son was at the scene when the incident occurred, but it is unclear if he is involved in the stabbing or if he was the person killed by police.
On the call, the dispatcher can be heard saying to police, “The first caller sounded younger, male, and said my ‘mom and dad.’ The second caller when we called back had a heavy speech impediment.”
“Copy,” an officer says back. “The second one then would be the elderly male, the younger one is still outstanding and if we could work on trying to get a name on him.”
Later the dispatcher asks, “Do we have an armed subject?”
“Unknown if armed,” the police respond. “Method was stabbing from what I’m getting from the elderly gentleman. Outstanding is his son who drove away. He nodded that there is no one else in the house.”
Police say that the male suspect they killed was found on the premises, although it’s unknown if that was inside the house or outside on the property somewhere. Although The Hollywood Reporter reports that the man who was killed was found hiding inside the house. Ely was not harmed.
Local news crews captured audio of shots being fired at the property.
"We don't know exactly how many shots were fired. We did have several deputies that were involved in the shooting," Lt. Erik Raney told KEYT. "Fortunately all of our deputies are OK."
As well as playing Tarzan from 1966 to 1968, Ely starred in Fantasy Island as well as the 1975 movie Doc Savage: The Man of Iron and Bronze. He also hosted the Miss America pageant in the 1980s.
Ely and Valerie Lundeen, who was a former Miss Florida, had three children together: Kirsten, Kaitland and Cameron.