New book solves the murder of Elvis Presley’s “Blue Hawaii” co-star, Jenny Maxwell

Forty years after it happened, a new book has solved one of the longest-standing supposedly unsolved murder cases in Hollywood history – the brutal 1981 slaying of actress Jenny Maxwell, Elvis Presley’s co-star in the film “Blue Hawaii.”

It was reported at the time that Maxwell was killed as part of a botched robbery attempt outside her Beverly Hills condo. In the four decades since then, that’s what all of Maxwell’s fans – and Elvis Presley’s fans – have thought.

As a new book reveals, though, that’s not at all what happened.

Elvis Presley and Jenny Maxwell in “Blue Hawaii.”

The book is called “Murder of an Elvis Girl: Solving the Jenny Maxwell Case,” by Michigan author Buddy Moorehouse. It’s published through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing, and it’s available in both Kindle and paperback versions. You can view and purchase the book here.

The book not only reveals who killed Jenny Maxwell – and why – but it also offers up a fascinating look at her Hollywood rise and fall. After being discovered by film director Vincente Minnelli in 1957 when she was just 16 years old, Maxwell quickly became one of the hottest young stars in Hollywood.

She appeared in dozens of TV shows and films, including “Bonanza,” “The Twilight Zone” and “Father Knows Best.” She starred with Jimmy Stewart, Robert Conrad, Buster Keaton, Michael Landon, Sandra Dee and countless other screen legends.

By the time she landed the role of Ellie Corbett alongside Elvis in 1961’s “Blue Hawaii,” she was one of the most famous and sought-after young actresses in Hollywood.

Jenny Maxwell in the early 1960s.

Off the screen, though, her personal life was in shambles. She had gotten married at 17 and became a mother at 19, and ended up losing both her marriage and her motherhood due to a Hollywood lifestyle of drugs, alcohol, affairs and partying.

She quit Hollywood altogether in 1968 in an effort to win back her son, and by the time she was murdered in 1981, she had been all but forgotten. She was killed on June 10, 1981, in Beverly Hills, as Maxwell and her second husband – a mobbed-up L.A. divorce attorney named Ervin “Tip” Roeder – were both shot outside her condo.

“At the time, the newspapers reported that it was probably a robbery attempt gone bad,” said Moorehouse, author of the book. “That’s what everybody has thought for the past 40 years. There have been books written about Jenny Maxwell and dozens of articles and websites, and all of them say that she was killed as part of a botched robbery attempt.

“That’s not what happened. The police actually solved the case in 1981, but the media never followed up and reported on it. This book doesn’t solve the case. It just reveals what the police found back in 1981.”

Tip Roeder and Jenny Maxwell in 1977, four years before the murders.

“It’s a fascinating story all the way around, and it’s never been reported,” Moorehouse said. “This has to be one of the most incredible and bizarre Hollywood murder stories of all time.”

The first review of “Murder of an Elvis Girl” was posted on Amazon by Maria Stuart, who wrote:

“This book about the rise, fall, and murder of Hollywood actress Jenny Maxwell is fast-paced and riveting; It’s an absorbing, well-researched look into the life of someone who could’ve been a huge star had she made different choices. In addition to solving Maxwell’s murder four decades later, the author takes the reader on a wild and fascinating ride through Hollywood of the ’60s and ’70s.”

The book came about because of a mission by Moorehouse to learn the truth about what actually happened to Maxwell.

“She was my mother’s first cousin,” he said. “Our family had always been told the same thing – that Jenny was killed as part of a robbery that went bad. That just never seemed right, so a couple of years ago, I started researching it to find out what really happened.”

He struck pay dirt when he connected with former Los Angeles Police Det. Mike Thies, the investigator who solved the crime back in 1981.

“Mike and his partner solved the entire case, and nobody ever knew it,” Moorehouse said. “As you’ll see in the book, it was some brilliant police work on their part that did it. It’s brought such closure to my entire family to know the truth now.”

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The Livingston Post is the only locally owned, all-digital information and opinion site in Livingston County, Mich. It was launched by award-winning journalists who were laid off from the Livingston County Daily Press & Argus by Gannett Co. Inc. in 2009.

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