Eva Rausing

07.13.12

Eva Rausing’s Husband Arrested on Murder Suspicions

The husband of Eva Rausing, one of the richest women in Britain, has been arrested on suspicion of her murder. Mike Giglio reports from London.

Eva Rausing’s husband has been arrested on suspicion of her murder, a London court heard Friday morning.

Hans Kristian Rausing, 49, heir to the multibillion-dollar Swedish TetraPak fortune, has yet to be questioned by police as he receives treatment for alcohol withdrawal. But news of the arrest brings another twist in a saga that has gripped international news media since Rausing was found dead in her London home.

Police discovered Rausing’s body on Tuesday when they searched the couple’s five-story Belgravia mansion after Hans was stopped for erratic driving and drugs were found in his car, according to Sharon Marman, a Scotland Yard detective who spoke this morning at the inquest into the death. He was then arrested and taken to a secure medical facility for treatment. “We have not yet been in a position to interview Mr. Rausing. He has been arrested on suspicion of [Eva’s] murder and we await notification of when he would be fit to be interviewed by police,” Marman said.

British media has reported that Eva’s body may have lain lifeless in a bedroom for days before it was found.

Today’s developments contradict statements made Thursday by Eva Rausing’s mother, Nancy Kemeny, who spoke to reporters at her home in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, after returning from London, where her husband identified the body for the coroner. Kemeny said her daughter had died due to complications from a heart condition and that Hans had been absolved. “My son-in-law has been cleared,” she said, according to the Telegraph. “It was extremely distressing, but we found out from the coroner that they didn’t find anything wrong.”

The American-born Eva met Hans at a drug-rehabilitation clinic in the United States in the 1980s, and the couple went on to endure long and often public battles with addiction. Recent photos published in British tabloids showed the two as haunted shells of their former selves, a far cry from the glamorous couple that had been seen in better days on the British high society scene. Though the cause of Rausing’s death has yet to be determined, a drug overdose has been suspected as a possible cause.

In April 2008, the couple was arrested after an incident at the American embassy in London, where a routine security search turned up crack and heroin in Eva’s bag.

In her comments yesterday, Kemeny said she’d had “high hopes” that the couple would recover from their addictions. She also revealed that shortly before her death, her daughter had been at a rehab clinic in California, where she was expecting Hans to join her. When he didn’t, Kemeny said, Eva went back to London to retrieve him. “She was there and she didn’t hear from him. She got worried so she came back home to get him to go back with her,” she said, according to The Sunday Telegraph. “They were going to go to America. Both of them were going to go.”

Kemeny added that her daughter had a heart condition that required a pacemaker, and that she believed it had been exacerbated by the long flight back to London, leading to her death.

Details from the couple’s past battles with addiction, as well as their vast wealth, have been pored over anew since Rausing’s death became public. She was the daughter of Tom Kemeny, a millionaire South Carolina Pepsi executive, while Hans is an heir to the vast fortune of the Swedish Tetra Pak empire, which manufactures food cartons. In the annual Sunday Times rich list last year, the Rausing family was ranked 12th in the country, and its Tetra Pak fortune estimated at close to $7 billion. In March, Forbes ranked Hans’s father as the world’s 88th-richest person.

In England, where the Rausings have four children between the ages of 11 and 17, they became major philanthropic patrons and used their personal struggles to fuel their outreach. Eva’s charity efforts included a considerable investment in battling addiction. She was a patron of the prevention charity Mentor, and also provided deep financial backing, along with her husband, to Action on Addiction, which targets young addicts. (Kate Middleton is also a co-patron.) The couple was also reportedly close to Prince Charles and involved with his charitable efforts as well.  “During her short lifetime [Eva] made a huge philanthropic impact, supporting a large number of charitable causes, not only financially, but using personal experiences,” a statement from her family said.

But the couple continued their own personal drug battles, which sometimes spilled over into very public travails. In April 2008, the couple was arrested after an incident at the American embassy in London, where a routine security search turned up crack and heroin in Eva’s bag. A subsequent police search of the Rausing home turned up more than 50 grams of cocaine, as well as anti-anxiety drugs in Eva’s car. Both received charges for possession, which were later dropped with conditional cautions. “I have made a grave error, and consider myself to have taken a wrong turn in the course of my life,” Eva said at the time from the steps of her home.

Eva “bravely fought her health issues for many years,” the Rausing family said in a statement, which added that the family is “deeply shocked and saddened to hear of the tragic death of their daughter-in-law.”