Almost 30 years ago, Philip Marshall had an uneven temper, an attention-seeking nature and trouble with authority figures, according to a former spouse who contacted The Union Democrat this week.
Ann Kallauner, a Louisiana nurse, spoke in a half-hour interview Wednesday with The Union Democrat, both dispelling and confirming information spread about Marshall,who allegedly shot and killed his two sleeping teen children before shooting himself sometime last week.
The bodies of Marshall, son Alex, 17, and daughter Macaila, 14, were found Saturday afternoon in the family's Forest Meadows home.
Marshall's death has fueled conspiracy theories online that he and his children were murdered by the government.
He wrote a handful of books and gave interviews to fringe media outlets, claiming to have been a CIA contract pilot during the Iran-Contra affair, and claiming to have uncovered a plot by the Saudi Arabian and U.S. governments to commit the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks on New York and Washington, D.C.
"He wasn't any Contra pilot," said Kallauner. "That was all just a fantasy."
Kallauner was wed to Marshall in 1985. They divorced about three years later.
She said Marshall did provide a kind of taxi service for notorious drug smuggler-turned-informant Barry Seal, who had been linked to the CIA prior to his February 1986 assassination by a trio of Medellin Cartel henchmen from Colombia.
A CIA spokesman said Tuesday that the agency could not substantiate Marshall's claims.
Kallauner said Marshall met Seal through "a friend of a friend" while teaching other pilots to fly from Lakefront Airport in New Orleans.
After Seal had his pilot's license revoked, he hired Marshall to fly with him between New Orleans and Miami or Fort Lauderdale. Seal often flew while Marshall remained in the jump seat, but Marshall never went with him into Nicaragua, she said.
"Barry would go off for days or a week and put Phil up in a hotel," Kallauner said.
She said she never read any of the books Marshall later wrote but that her mother told her that she had.
Though not a writer during their years together, Marshall loved the book, "A Confederacy of Dunces," written by fellow Louisiana native John Kennedy Toole, Kallauner said. The novel gives a rich depiction of 1960s New Orleans. It was published in 1980, 11 years after the author committed suicide.
Marshall grew up just across Lake Pontchartrain from the city during that era, attending Mandeville High School and going to New Orleans Saints football games with his father.
Kallauner said she avoided contact with Marshall after their divorce.
"He was the kind of person, he was very attention-seeking … he was very egotistical and he set himself up to be around people who would idolize him or put him on a pedestal," Kallauner said. "He was always conscientious about his looks … kind of a ladies' man."
She said that is largely what led to the end of their marriage.
"He'd be in one city, tell me he was in another. He didn't want children at the time and I did," Kallauner said. "He said he wasn't meant to be married. He couldn't be faithful."
Marshall began flying at age 15 and took pride in having become a commercial pilot "all by himself" rather than doing a stint in the military first, she said.
He started with Miami-based Eastern Air Lines and moved to United Airlines after union-busting Texan Frank Lorenzo purchased the carrier, she said.
"He didn't want to be a scab," she said.
United Airlines has not responded to attempts by The Union Democrat to ascertain when Marshall worked for the carrier and why he left the company several years ago.
Kallauner said Marshall struggled with alcoholism during their marriage, as his father had, and that his mother suffered from bipolar disorder.
She said he received counseling for his alcohol problems "but he wouldn't go to AA (Alcoholics Anonymous)."
Kallauner said Marshall could be "mean" to her and "had a temper" but she did not see him as violent.
"He had a problem with authority figures in his life," she said. "One time he wanted me to roll down the (car) window to yell at a police officer."
"He kind of got mad and smacked me back against the seat," she recalled.
Marshall also was nearly fired after yelling at a superior at Eastern Air Lines "and got mad and would throw clubs in the water" while golfing, she said.
Kallauner said he aspired to live in a home next to a golf course, like the Forest Meadows home where his life violently ended.
Based on his vanity in his younger days, Kallauner said it was a surprise to see photos of Marshall this week in which he had aged and gained weight.
Kallauner said the news reports of how Marshall died and what he did to his own children came as a shock.
"It is (surprising) that he would kill his children," she said. "I don't see him doing that without being in an altered state … I pray for him and his children."
She said the reports of the Murphys tragedy have been haunting, given what alternate twists of fate may have wrought.
"It could easily have been me," Kallauner said.