Apparent Suicide in Death of 'Hillbillies' Star's Girlfriend

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"Relationship problems" preceded the apparent 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 continues 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 last Thursday 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 was later
placed on life support. The woman's family took her off life support on 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 currently trying to build a hotel-casino in northern Douglas County that would include a signature oil derrick evoking the "Hillbillies" sitcom theme of dimwitted Jethro Bodine, played by Baer, and other members of his family striking oil and becoming instantly wealthy.

The hotel-casino project follows previous efforts by Baer to build clubs in Reno and Carson City. Those deals never panned out.

(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)