Russell Armstrong’s sister claims he was murdered & it wasn’t suicide

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Russell Armstrong’s sister, 45 year-old Laurie Kelsoe, claims that there’s no way her brother could have killed himself. This comes in a new report on The Today Show, (above) in which Russell’s sister is interviewed and the narrator claims the family says he was murdered. To be fair it was the Today Show, not the sister who was interviewed, who threw out the term “murder.” They state that his sister “said there is no doubt he was murdered,” although she never exactly says that in the clips they show. It’s more like shock and disbelief on her part. The only thing she says to that effect is “From the minute I got the call, I knew it was not suicide.”

The coroner’s report claimed there were “no signs of foul play” however, and his death was ruled a suicide. Today also interviews a guy who owns the addiction and recovery website The Fix, and who was working with Russell on possibly investing in his site prior to his death. Russell’s sister Laurie used to be a meth addict five years ago when she was going through a divorce, and Russell paid for her to spend months in rehab. Russell approached The Fix about becoming a backer, and expressed a seemingly genuine interest in addiction issues. There’s a very good first person article there about their dealings with him prior to his death. In that article, Laurie is quoted but she doesn’t say anything about Russell possibly being murdered. The guy who runs The Fix also expresses doubt that Russell could have killed himself, but he never mentions foul play or anything. Here’s a little more, but I would recommend you read the full article if you’re interested, it’s very well written:

Since they first met at a party six years ago, both Taylor and Russell Armstrong assiduously cultivated a reputation as a high-flying power couple. But days after Russell’s suicide, their carefully crafted facade fell apart. According to Laurie Kelsoe, Taylor, an Oklahoma cheerleader whose original name was Shana Hughes, had changed her name to Taylor Ford and allegedly claimed to be claimed to be a member of the famous Ford family. “But we had a friend who knew the Fords in Detroit, and they didn’t know anything about her. We knew she was a phony from the beginning, but Russell wouldn’t hear of it,” Laurie said.

After Armstrong’s death, Taylor was pilloried as a venal social climber who tried in vain to keep up with her much wealthier fellow cast members. When Kelsoe first visited the couple’s lavish new mansion, she remarked how beautiful it was. “It’s nice,” Taylor reportedly replied, “but it’s not $40-million-dollars nice.” Kelsoe claimed that Russell had reluctantly agreed to appear on the show to satisfy his wife’s social ambitions. “He spent all his savings to maintain Taylor’s illusion that they were wealthier than they were,” she said, “He did anything to make sure she was happy, but nothing was ever enough.”

Even so, after his death it was Russell who bore the brunt of the media’s assault. Last Thursday, TMZ reported that Armstrong had beaten his wife so badly that she had stayed out of public view for weeks. The New York Post reported that he was a regular visitor to gay porn sites and had a proclivity for S&M. Back in Texas, Russell’s distraught sister, one year sober, read these revelations about her brother with horror. She had returned to the small town of Denton with her two sons to build a new life. But last week she broke her anonymity to speak out in Russell’s defense. “He’s not the man they’re saying he is,” she said, speaking from her ranch north of Dallas. She tearfully recalled her brother’s support at a time when other friends and family members had given her up for dead. “I was badly hooked on meth,” she said. “Russell visited me in rehab very week I was there. He paid for my care there and looked after my children. He called me every single day. He made sure I had everything I needed. I don’t recognize this man they’re talking about in the papers. I honestly would not be alive today if Russell had not been there for me.”

Disgusted with the media’s lurid rumors about Armstrong, she’s eager to set the record straight. “My brother is not gay. He’s not into S&M. His biggest mistake was falling in love with Taylor,” she said, adding with a note of irony: “Which is a form of masochism, I guess.” She noted that neither Taylor nor Bravo have bothered to contact her or her family since Russell’s death. “Not even a bouquet of flowers—only lawyers.”

She then wnet on to make some stunning accusations about Taylor—claiming that she stole watches, car keys and thousands of dollars from Russell’s bedroom soon after she discovered his body. Kelsoe said that her brother had been saving the cash to pay the college funds for his two teenage children from a previous marriage. “Taylor is a liar and a thief,” says said. “Her entire life’s ambition was to become a Housewife—you know, she was pregnant when they got married. She wanted a man, she wanted tons of money. and she wanted to be in the limelight. She’s just a gold-digger who reinvented herself and dragged my brother down in the process.” She was especially disgusted by the notorious $65,000 birthday party that Taylor threw for her five-year-old daughter at the former Harry Houdini estate: “That party was a complete embarrassment to everyone,” she says. “We don’t behave that way around here.”

Soon after Armstrong’s death, sources say, Bravo briefly considered canceling the top-rated show. But they quickly decided to carry on. The season premiere of The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills is set to debut on September 5. The conflict between Russell and Taylor was to be a key storyline of the new season. Armstrong’s family has demanded that Russell be excised completely from the show. “If they have a shred of decency, they won’t make us live through this,” Kelsoe said.

She alleges that Bravo execs, unhappy with early footage of the latest season, had informed Taylor that she would be fired if she didn’t amp up the drama. “Well, they got what they wanted,” she said. “Russell only did this to please his wife. Bravo never told him, ‘We are going to torment you, destroy your marriage, empty your life and rip you apart. Now will you please sign on the dotted line?’”

[From The Fix]

In that article, Laurie makes it sound like her brother was pushed to suicide, and it’s only now in that Today interview that she’s calling it suspicious. The most interesting part to me is the suggestion that Bravo is working to smear Russell after his death, and that they showed him as this wooden unlikable character that wasn’t anything close to his personality. Still, there were so many lawsuits against him, and so many verifiable charges of domestic abuse, that I tend to think at least some of it was true. Also, that stuff about Taylor snatching up all his watches and money immediately after discovering the body is pretty damning, but who knows if it’s true.

Incidentally, it wasn’t mentioned in this article or on The Today Show that Russell’s business partner committed suicide about a day after he did. To me that suggests foul play more than any arguments you could make about his state of mind. (Not that I’m saying it was, just that it should be been brought up by the sister.) Neither of the men left a note.

Russell Armstrong and Taylor Armstrong

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28 Responses to “Russell Armstrong’s sister claims he was murdered & it wasn’t suicide”

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  1. AG says:

    Who knows what the truth is with those two. Russell always seemed quiet and reserved on the show. One thing stands out in my mind though – one episode, Taylor was away with the other women and Russell was trying to figure out what to feed his daughter and how to cook it. It was really sweet. I feel the most sorry for her – only 5 years old and she’ll never see her father again. It’s a permanent solution to temporary problems. So sad!

  2. Katie says:

    I’ve never seen an episode of this show; the only “Housewives” show I’ve seen was the original Real Housewives of Atlanta.

    It would probably be a moot point to comment on just how ridiculous their lifestyles are. People who chase fame and money will never be happy.

  3. the original bellaluna says:

    Wouldn’t surprise me in the least to discover that Taylor is a gold-digger, that she stole from him shortly after he died (college money for his older kids – what a greedy piggy she is!), or that Bravo is trying to spin him in a negative light.

    The worst things about it are that he’s no longer here to defend himself, and his daughter is going to have access to all this info when she gets older.

    (I wouldn’t be surprised if the two were done-in by foul-play, either. Too coincidental, and I don’t believe in coincidence.)

  4. KJ says:

    Just throwing it out there, Russel’s family seems like they’re either in massive denial or they’re huge assholes, too. It seems pretty clear that this dude wasn’t a scrupulous individual, which the family doesn’t seem to want to acknowledge. They also don’t want to acknowledge that he could have messed up his own life so badly with his poorly handled financial endeavors and what seems to be an incredibly unhealthy relationship (that he also seems prone to having, looking at his history of domestic violence). All this Blaming of Bravo and hinting at foul play sounds exactly like a group of people who don’t want to change the image they have in their head of someone they loved, and trying to find blame anywhere but where it belongs.

    I don’t think any one in responsible for that man’s death other than himself. And he was responsible, mostly, for creating the circumstances that pushed him to it. It’s terrible that he left a daughter behind who has no idea how to deal with all this, but this man isn’t a martyr. He wasn’t bullied into ending his life and he had choices. It’s sad he decided to end it all, but I really can’t see how this was anyone else’s doing than his own.

  5. Pyewacket says:

    @Katie, actually The Real Housewives of Orange County is the original of the franchise, not Atlanta.

  6. NeNe says:

    I guess we might never know the truth. I have heard those stories about Taylor in the past, and yes, in my opinion, she does seem like a major gold digger, but again, who really knows.

    I too, feel most sorry for her daughter, as well as, his other children. Whatever the truth is, it is not helping them with all those stories going around. For the children’s sake, I do not think it is right or fair to drag either of them over the coals.

  7. anne_000 says:

    Last night, Russell’s mother told Jane Velez-Mitchell that Taylor put $90,000 on Russell’s credit card after they separated in June.

  8. shiba says:

    So, no chance he/they faked his death to avoid all the lawsuits while giving Taylor the massive storyline she craved? (Wasn’t it a closed casket…?)

  9. your mama says:

    Neither of the men left a note.. something is very fishy here.

  10. dorothy says:

    Granted Taylor does come accross as a gold-digger famewhore, but Russell knew what he was getting into. He had to know what she was spending and didn’t stop it. They were living far beyond their means (as does many of the housewives), and knew better. I think he took the easy way out.

  11. Katyusha says:

    @ Celebitchy

    Were you being sarcastic in saying the article is well written?

    “… changed her name to Taylor Ford and allegedly claimed to be claimed to be a member of the famous Ford family. ‘But we had a friend who knew the Fords…'”

  12. SueAnn says:

    Sad situation. I hope he has found peace. Hope his daughter finds comfort somewhere. I have never seen any of these shows, but it is a shame.

  13. Judy says:

    For the record, I have thought he was murdered from the very beginning, as well, and it’s related to his financial dealings. Just too coincidental that his partner was found the following day w/ a bullet to the head, which was also described as a suicide. Sure. Right.

  14. Seal Team 6 says:

    His family really need to begin their grief process and lay off the tinfoil hattery. Very sad.

    And, as much as people dislike Taylor (I only watch RHONJ, so I have no opinion), they were married at the time of his death, and she had a legal right to his credit cards and money after separation, unless there was a formal separation agreement. She is also now responsible for shared marital debt.

    MANY suicides don’t leave a note, especially for “impulse” suicides, or those under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.

    Neither Bravo nor Taylor killed Russell Armstrong. Only Russell and his demons did.

  15. anne_000 says:

    @ katsusha, #11 – It’s been going around for some time that Taylor’s name was “Shana Hughes” but that she called herself Taylor Ford & told ppl that she was related to the Ford family. Besides Russell’s sister, there’s also a couple who related this same story about Taylor coming off as a real Ford though she wasn’t.

    Also, she told Andy Cohen on WWHL that “Taylor” was actually her surname & that was what people usually called her so that’s why she goes by that name as her first name now. This was her response to Andy asking her about her name change from “Shana” to “Taylor.”

    Regarding the name “Shana Hughes,” at various websites & at the video link mentioned, they show evidence that her name was “Shana Hughes.”


    I wonder if she ever legally changed her name to “Taylor Ford,” because that’s what her name is listed as on Russell’s death certificate.

    If she hadn’t legally changed her name to “Taylor Ford,” then is it legal to use an “alias” on a govt document?

  16. mel says:

    According to Nancy Grace, there were multiple wounds on his body. Plus one of his feet was touching the ground– meaning how can you hang yourself and have one foot touch the ground. I think there maybe some foul play involved. His business partner was murdered on the same day too.

  17. Katyusha says:

    @ Anne_000

    Sorry for the confusion –
    I was addressing the point that whomever wrote that article did not proofread it before publishing. I wasn’t addressing the content.

    So when Celebitchy said the article was well writen, I wasn’t sure if it was sarcasm!

  18. meowren says:

    ok…just throwing it out there… secret gay lovers?

  19. Kim says:

    And the coroner demanded Taylor come in and speak to him about his death – very fishy.

  20. Katyusha says:


  21. anne_000 says:

    @ Katyusha, #14: Oh I see it now. LOL. I guess I need to learn to read more carefully. 🙂

    Btw, I also just noticed that I initially spelled ur name wrong. Sorry about that.

  22. bros says:

    i have been waiting for someone to bring up the suicide of the business partner…WAY too coincidental for me and definitely suggesting foul play. it just defies logic that 2 of them would have the exact same plan. suicide isnt for everyone and it isnt contagious. i think they pissed off the wrong people.

  23. lin234 says:

    Taylor Armstrong Is A Big Fat Liar:

    That video says it all. I believe Taylor knew exactly was what up with Russell’s Ponzi schemes. They had filed for bankruptcy years earlier and were living in a rented house. There was no possible way she is that naive to think they could afford to splash out 65 grand on a birthday party. She did it because she wanted to fit in. I wish Bravo kicked Taylor off after the 1st season but she manipulated all the fights between everyone that bravo kept her on for the drama.

    Russell was by no means a saint but I have serious doubts that he beat Taylor considering every other word out of that mouth of hers is a lie. The one time he showed interest in something was when he was trying to interact with his daughter Kennedy.

  24. Annie_Grey says:

    KJ- Right on the nose.

  25. Kate says:

    I believe Taylor or “Shana” would absolutely do all that…no question in my mind.

  26. Moops says:

    I work in securities regulation, and Ponzi-scheme operators kill themselves all the time. This is especially true for the operators who don’t run away with the money but think (like a classic gambler) that if only they could turn around their string of bad luck, they could make enough money to pay off all their investors. They are not your typical criminals: they are way more image-conscious, and want to be seen as high-rollers by friends, family, and the community at large. Their denial and rationalization of their crimes is really amazing, way more than most criminals. They certainly don’t consider themselves criminals, have never lived amongst criminals (excluding their CEO buddies) and are too soft to do hard time. So, their world comes crashing down on them hard and fast when the money runs dry and investors start calling the SEC.

  27. nikki says:

    Completely agree!
    This theory makes the most sense to me.

  28. Anne says:

    Just saying- a lot of deaths in Hollywood are suspicious. Think about it.