October 20, 1992 Phoenix, AR. 51-year-old Chuck Gold was dead from gunshot wounds. His wife, former Playboy Bunny Carole Gold, (53) discovered him called 911 to report his death. Unfortunately, she was the mastermind behind his untimely demise.
Carole had joined the Playboy company in the 1960s when it was still a new company.
Carole was from Chicago and modeled in the 1950s when she was a teenager. When she was 15-years-old, one of her friends referred to work at HMH Publishing, which was Hugh Hefner’s company.
She got approval to work there from her Catholic school because they had no idea it was associated with Playboy. Carole started as a switchboard operator.
Later, she started working as a one of the first Playboy Bunnies at the Chicago Playboy club. At the time, the Bunnys worked as hosts and servers and work a Bunny outfit. They made incredible money at the time.
While she worked as a Playboy Bunny at night, she went to college and eventually started working as a Catholic school teacher.
Carole left Chicago and the Playboy life after she met her husband Kenny Cottini. She’d worked at the club for five years.
The couple moved to Lake Geneva, WI to work at horse stables. Unfortunately Kenny died after he fell off of a horse. He left behind two children with Carole.
Carole started dating her second husband Chuck Gold, who also had two children, in 1977, and got married in 1978. Soon after that, Chuck and Carole used her connections with Plaboy to open up their own horse stables at the Lake Geneva Playboy Club Hotel in Wisconsin.
Carole and Chuck worked really well together, but decided that the Wisconsin winters were too harsh, soon 1982 they moved to Arizona where they ran the stables at Point Hilton resort at Tapatio Cliffs.
Chuck and Carole did very well financially with their stable business, and this was supplemented with Chuck’s gunfight reenactments. His character name was Black Bart.
On October 20, 1992, the day of Chuck’s death, Carole had dinner with her daughter and then went back to her daughter’s house to watch movies. Chuck was supposed to be a conference, but he was on his way home.
When Carole came home, she found Chuck dead in their kitchen.
The front door was locked and there was no sign of a break-in. Detective Joe Petrosino found that the back door was unlocked, however. He suspected that Chuck’s death was the result of a robbery gone wrong, but found no sign of disturbance.
Carole told detectives that things were really good between her and Chuck before his death, but disclosed that he had cheated on her in the past.
Chuck’s friend Richard Feingold let the detectives know that Chuck had been planning to leave his marriage with Carole for a woman named Linda who worked at the horse stables. At some point Linda may have even lived in the house with Chuck and Carole, but eventually the relationship ended.
Chuck’s daughter claims that Carole had affairs as well.
An employee at the horse stables said that Carole’s grandson Ronnie had been staying with Carole and Chuck, which caused conflict in the marriage. Chuck wanted Ronnie to work, but Ronnie preferred to hang out with his girlfriend. This enraged Chuck and he checked Ronnie out of the house.
Employees overheard Chuck and Ronnie loudly fighting a week before Chuck’s murder. Ronnie had alibis, though. He had been with his girlfriend and at school and had no idea that Chuck had been killed.
Chuck had been in another fight, with Carole’s son Kenneth “Ashton” Cottini, in the weeks before his death. Again, the argument was about work, but it was also about Ashton’s drug addiction.
He owed people money for his drugs, and the final straw was when Ashton got caught smoking weed at the stables. Because weed was illegal, this action could have cost them the resort. Chuck had kicked Ashton out of the house.
Ashton also had an alibi, he had been out with his girlfriend in public. He also said things had been smoothed over between him and Chuck.
A family member tipped off police that Ashton had been shopping for Cadillacs right after Chuck’s death. Chuck’s daughter later saw Ashton wearing Chuck’s ring, which made her think perhaps both Carole and Ashton were involved in Chucks’ death.
Carole told police that Chuck had threatened to divorce her over Ashton, but she thought things had calmed down between Chuck and Ashton.
Detectives found a motive when the insurance company called to ask if anyone in the family was involved in Chuck’s death: There was a $150k life insurance policy in his name.
Right before Chuck’s death, the Golds were struggling financially because Carole had blown through their money.
When confronted about the life insurance policy, Carole claimed that she had no idea about the policy. She said she knew there was $75 going out every month, but she didn’t know why.
Detectives asked Ashton to give up the names of some of his drug dealers, so he gave them the name Bob Pryor, a trainer who supplied him with his steroids. Bob had an extensive rap sheet and police found out that Ashton had asked Bob to hire a hitman.
The hitman, Dan Goddard, says that Ashton told Bob Pryor that he hated his stepdad and wanted to have him killed.
Police lured Bob to the police station because they happened to have a bunch of guns and cash from a prior, unrelated, raid on his house. When he came into the police station, he was immediately interviewed about Chuck’s murder.
He eventually broke down and revealed that the $9000 the police had taken was the money he received to hire a hitman to murder Chuck.
He insisted that it wasn’t Ashton, but Carole, who had arranged Chuck’s murder. She was afraid Chuck would divorce her, and wanted to cash in on his life insurance.
Handwriting analysis showed that Carole had forged Chuck’s name on the life insurance policy.
Bob said Ashton and Carole had previously tried to kill Chuck by putting rat poison in his dinner. He didn’t like the taste of it, and threw it way.
The first trial in 1995, for Bob Pryor and Ashton Cottini, ended in mistrial. After the mistrial, Bob Pryor got into big unrelated federal drug charges. He decided to plea down his charges in exchange for testifying against Ashton and his mother Carole in a future trial.
At Carole’s last police interrogation, Carole admitted that she had some kind of role in Chuck’s death. She told them, cryptically, that “you’re on the right track, but the wrong train.”
In 1997, Carole was sentenced to life in prison for her role in Chuck’s murder.
“I had nothing to do with this crime,” Carole Gold maintained at her sentencing. “I always loved Chuck Gold.”
Ashton pleaded guilty to his role in his stepfather’s murder and was sentenced to 18 years.
The Playboy Murders can be streamed on Discovery +