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Old 03-28-2019, 11:57 AM   #1
Todd Mueller
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Question A new theory on the Larry Race story

I have always been intrigued by the Larry Race story, both because it is messed up and because I’m from Minnesota. I think many of us here are on the fence about Larry, but were surprised he was convicted based on the evidence. I personally lean towards him being guilty because I think his story and character are questionable, but I don’t think there was enough convincing evidence to convict. I was more truly on the fence until I found out he passed out on the boat for five hours, which wasn’t mentioned in the UM segment.

Anyway, after seeing this story again, I have a new theory – what if Larry is guilty of negligence and not intentional murder? In other words, what if he just didn’t care enough and that led to Debbie’s death?

For the purposes of this theory, I will give Larry the benefit of the doubt that the boat was in decent condition and the life rafts were onboard and in good working order. Here is how I envision this theory playing out: Larry and Debbie’s marriage is not going well. He has a very high opinion of himself, he has had numerous affairs, and he has grown tired of her. But he doesn’t want to get a divorce. He decides to take Debbie for a boat ride on their anniversary either in an honest attempt to patch things up or just to keep her happy. They are out cruising when the boat starts to take on water. Debbie instantly loses her cool because this has happened before, and she starts to panic. (Quick side note: huge kudos to the actress who played Debbie Race on UM – she did an amazing job as the hysterical wife!) Larry starts to try and fix the boat, but Debbie is still hysterical – crying, yelling, and perhaps blaming Larry. Larry finally says “Enough! Get in the life raft!” He starts out intending to pull her to shore. The whole time he is in the water swimming, and growing very cold, Debbie is yelling at him for getting her into this. At some point, Larry says “F*** it… I’m freezing and I’m going back to the boat to warm up.” Debbie yells at him but he thinks she can just hang out here and yell to herself because I’ve had enough of this. Larry goes back to the boat to warm up and let Debbie calm down.

Now, this is where my new theory has two paths: the intentional path and the accidental path. On the intentional path, Larry says “I’m done. I’m done with her. No more.” He stays on the boat knowing she is mad and scared, but he doesn’t care. He may not even care if she dies of exposure, but he’s not going back. On the accidental path, he waits to warm up and let her calm down. Eventually she calms down, and then he tries to get the boat started. He starts the boat and goes to look for her but now he can’t find her. He panics and thinks, “Uh-oh… No one is going to believe this.” So Larry modifies the story and instead of being a non-caring, fed up husband, he becomes the distraught spouse and would-be hero. He changes his story just enough that it sounds like he did all he could to save her but failed in his valiant attempt, when in reality he gave up on her hours earlier. Now he is relieved or scared of what happened but she is gone either way.

This would explain most (but not all) of the variables in this story. Instead of Larry setting out to kill Debbie that night, maybe he got fed up with her crying, yelling, and blaming him. He tried to do something nice for her and she ended up making it all his fault, so leaving her out there is what she deserved. Only later, when he realized they were going to prosecute him, does he really fine tune this story to explain how it went down so that he can be seen as the hero and not as the executioner.

So what do you all think of this theory? Does it hold any water?
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Old 03-28-2019, 07:58 PM   #2
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I have always been intrigued by the Larry Race story, both because it is messed up and because I’m from Minnesota. I think many of us here are on the fence about Larry, but were surprised he was convicted based on the evidence. I personally lean towards him being guilty because I think his story and character are questionable, but I don’t think there was enough convincing evidence to convict. I was more truly on the fence until I found out he passed out on the boat for five hours, which wasn’t mentioned in the UM segment.

Anyway, after seeing this story again, I have a new theory – what if Larry is guilty of negligence and not intentional murder? In other words, what if he just didn’t care enough and that led to Debbie’s death?

For the purposes of this theory, I will give Larry the benefit of the doubt that the boat was in decent condition and the life rafts were onboard and in good working order. Here is how I envision this theory playing out: Larry and Debbie’s marriage is not going well. He has a very high opinion of himself, he has had numerous affairs, and he has grown tired of her. But he doesn’t want to get a divorce. He decides to take Debbie for a boat ride on their anniversary either in an honest attempt to patch things up or just to keep her happy. They are out cruising when the boat starts to take on water. Debbie instantly loses her cool because this has happened before, and she starts to panic. (Quick side note: huge kudos to the actress who played Debbie Race on UM – she did an amazing job as the hysterical wife!) Larry starts to try and fix the boat, but Debbie is still hysterical – crying, yelling, and perhaps blaming Larry. Larry finally says “Enough! Get in the life raft!” He starts out intending to pull her to shore. The whole time he is in the water swimming, and growing very cold, Debbie is yelling at him for getting her into this. At some point, Larry says “F*** it… I’m freezing and I’m going back to the boat to warm up.” Debbie yells at him but he thinks she can just hang out here and yell to herself because I’ve had enough of this. Larry goes back to the boat to warm up and let Debbie calm down.

Now, this is where my new theory has two paths: the intentional path and the accidental path. On the intentional path, Larry says “I’m done. I’m done with her. No more.” He stays on the boat knowing she is mad and scared, but he doesn’t care. He may not even care if she dies of exposure, but he’s not going back. On the accidental path, he waits to warm up and let her calm down. Eventually she calms down, and then he tries to get the boat started. He starts the boat and goes to look for her but now he can’t find her. He panics and thinks, “Uh-oh… No one is going to believe this.” So Larry modifies the story and instead of being a non-caring, fed up husband, he becomes the distraught spouse and would-be hero. He changes his story just enough that it sounds like he did all he could to save her but failed in his valiant attempt, when in reality he gave up on her hours earlier. Now he is relieved or scared of what happened but she is gone either way.

This would explain most (but not all) of the variables in this story. Instead of Larry setting out to kill Debbie that night, maybe he got fed up with her crying, yelling, and blaming him. He tried to do something nice for her and she ended up making it all his fault, so leaving her out there is what she deserved. Only later, when he realized they were going to prosecute him, does he really fine tune this story to explain how it went down so that he can be seen as the hero and not as the executioner.

So what do you all think of this theory? Does it hold any water?
Hello fellow Minnesota poster!!! This one always intrigued me as well and on our many trips to Duluth I can't help but think of old Larry Race.

My three cents: Do I think he set out to murder her via the scuba gear and knifing the raft? No - Larry never struck me as that bright. My thoughts: the boat was faulty, he put her in a raft and she drowned. I think he put her in that raft, really believing she would make it to shore.

I do need refreshing though: Were the cuts in the raft proven to be slashes? Or could sharp rocks have made them? Lake Superior is such a beastly and large (and unforgiving) lake.

Yes was a cheater but that does not prove anything. (He seemed to have personality of a wet dishrag so I don't get the appeal.)

To me, if he was guilty it was not proven beyond a reasonable doubt, at least not on UM. I would like Forensic Files or Dateline to get a hold of it!!!
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Old 03-29-2019, 02:41 AM   #3
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He was found guilty by 1982/1983 standards, possibly would walk today. I would imagine the jury would have found his demeanour off-putting, just as he came across on the show.
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Old 03-29-2019, 06:54 AM   #4
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The raft had water in the air chambers, meaning that the raft had to have been full of air and then cut or slashed for water to enter. The only plausible explanations are that either Debbie hit a rock and the raft was slashed, or Race cut the raft. The first explanation is only possible if someone were to ever find the alleged 2nd raft that Race claims they had. IMO, the raft found on board the boat was the one he pushed Debbie in and while pushing her, he slashed the raft and told her he would go back to the boat to get it started but simply waited for hours for her to die. I think it was intentional.
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Old 03-29-2019, 11:27 AM   #5
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I actually thought about a theory like this for years, but after poring through all the legal appeals and articles about this case, the big red flag to me is the number of times Larry changed his story about details which pointed to this being a premeditated crime (many of which were not mentioned during the UM segment). For instance, Larry initially denied bringing scuba gear on-board Jenny Lee until a witness told police they saw Larry loading a scuba tank onto the boat at the marina before they went out on the water that night. Larry then says that oh yes, he did bring a scuba tank and placed it inside the raft alongside Debbie in case they needed it for an emergency. So why would Larry need to lie about something like this if Debbie's death was simply the result of his negligence and indifference?

I find it convenient that the items which would have pointed to Larry committing murder (the scuba tank, the diving knife) were never found. I personally believe Larry traveled a great distance to dispose of these items in an area where the Coast Guard wouldn't find them during a search, which is why it took him five hours to make it to shore and radio for help (a time he accounted for by claiming that he was passed out from exhaustion).
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Old 03-29-2019, 11:36 AM   #6
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I actually thought about a theory like this for years, but after poring through all the legal appeals and articles about this case, the big red flag to me is the number of times Larry changed his story about details which pointed to this being a premeditated crime (many of which were not mentioned during the UM segment). For instance, Larry initially denied bringing scuba gear on-board Jenny Lee until a witness told police they saw Larry loading a scuba tank onto the boat at the marina before they went out on the water that night. Larry then says that oh yes, he did bring a scuba tank and placed it inside the raft alongside Debbie in case they needed it for an emergency. So why would Larry need to lie about something like this if Debbie's death was simply the result of his negligence and indifference?

I find it convenient that the items which would have pointed to Larry committing murder (the scuba tank, the diving knife) were never found. I personally believe Larry traveled a great distance to dispose of these items in an area where the Coast Guard wouldn't find them during a search, which is why it took him five hours to make it to shore and radio for help (a time he accounted for by claiming that he was passed out from exhaustion).
I forgot about those details. I agree about the 5 hour window being used to dispose of evidence from the boat.
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Old 03-30-2019, 04:54 PM   #7
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I would really like to see a Forensic Files or Dateline on this -both doubtful as the case is so old and he has been paroled.

I still stand behind that he is guilty of at least negligence in his actions that night - putting your panicked wife into a lifeboat in 35 degree weather was not smart. Why did they not stay on the boat and shoot flairs? I get she was panicky but Larry should have prevailed and said "Calm down, we need to stay put and shoot the flairs. We are safer here." And why did he not don the scuba stuff BEFORE pushing her in the raft?

I would not judge him as a being a cheater - that does not make a murderer. I do judge him on his questionable actions that night. It seems like A LOT of work to kill your wife with no guarantee that she will actually die.
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Old 03-31-2019, 05:57 PM   #8
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I can’t imagine going on LAKE SUPERIOR in that little flimsy boat in early May. That alone makes me believe he’s guilty.
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Old 04-01-2019, 05:16 PM   #9
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IMO, the raft found on board the boat was the one he pushed Debbie in and while pushing her, he slashed the raft and told her he would go back to the boat to get it started but simply waited for hours for her to die. I think it was intentional.
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I personally believe Larry traveled a great distance to dispose of these items in an area where the Coast Guard wouldn't find them during a search, which is why it took him five hours to make it to shore and radio for help (a time he accounted for by claiming that he was passed out from exhaustion).
Bingo, these two fine gentlemen hit the nail on the head. I firmly believe he took his wife out there to kill her.
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Old 04-03-2019, 09:12 PM   #10
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Cars and RobinW -- why must you come at me with facts?

I was trying to give old Larry the possible benefit of the doubt (even though I think he is still a major creep), but now I have to concede this was murder. I did a little more research after I posted this. I found his appeal of the case which included the judges quoting from testimony given in the case. Larry lied about a lot of things including having the scuba tanks on board. If he was telling the truth, why lie about that even if it makes him look bad? The fact that he lied about what he did completely shoots his credibility. Then add the raft info that Cars mentioned and yeah... he did it.
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Old 04-28-2020, 11:32 AM   #11
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At the very least Larry is guilty of gross negligence and manslaughter. The base question to be asked is "why did they abandon ship?". The logical thing to do would have been to stay on the boat until it went under, and to then get on the life raft. Even this guide on boating safety says that: https://www.boatingmag.com/how-to/wh...-boat-sinking/
Stay with the boat. Many boats will float capsized and make a bigger target for a helicopter. Climb aboard to stave off exposure.
Is it possible that Larry convinced is wife that they had to abandon ship? Yes.
Could a prosecutor convince me as a juror that is what happened without any reasonable doubt for a 1st degree murder conviction? No.

Count me among the people who this case intrigues because of living near Lake Superior for a time, on the Michigan side of the big lake.
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Old 04-28-2020, 11:58 AM   #12
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At the very least Larry is guilty of gross negligence and manslaughter. The base question to be asked is "why did they abandon ship?". The logical thing to do would have been to stay on the boat until it went under, and to then get on the life raft. Even this guide on boating safety says that: https://www.boatingmag.com/how-to/wh...-boat-sinking/
Stay with the boat. Many boats will float capsized and make a bigger target for a helicopter. Climb aboard to stave off exposure.
Is it possible that Larry convinced is wife that they had to abandon ship? Yes.
Could a prosecutor convince me as a juror that is what happened without any reasonable doubt for a 1st degree murder conviction? No.

Count me among the people who this case intrigues because of living near Lake Superior for a time, on the Michigan side of the big lake.
I agree that from what we saw 1st degree murder was a stretch but at the very least he guilty of manslaughter or negligence, whatever he could be charged with. Leaving her alone was really wrong then leaving her in the dingy was wrong. I am a Minnesotan and have been interested in this case as well. Lake Superior is an unforgiving mistress, that is for sure! Going on Lake Superior in early May in that size boat? Stupid!
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Old 04-28-2020, 12:13 PM   #13
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I've always believed that Larry, an avid diver and boater, knew that the damage to the boat was minimal and that it wouldn't sink, but oversold it to Debbie, who was always leery about being on the boat. He convinces her they have to abandon ship and he will push her to shore, he inflates the one raft he had on the boat, and starts pushing her. He cuts the raft from underneath her, ditches the knife, and then tells her, as she's freaking out in the deflating raft, that he will swim back to the boat and get it started to come pick her up. Then he just waits it out. Pretty simply crime really. The premeditation comes in when you factor in his deliberate mention of having two rafts to the deputy sheriff before the murder.

Slightly OT, but was there an update that was shown to this segment prior to Race being released from prison? I could've sworn I saw one about the people who claimed to have located his second raft.
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Old 04-28-2020, 12:36 PM   #14
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I've always believed that Larry, an avid diver and boater, knew that the damage to the boat was minimal and that it wouldn't sink, but oversold it to Debbie, who was always leery about being on the boat. He convinces her they have to abandon ship and he will push her to shore, he inflates the one raft he had on the boat, and starts pushing her. He cuts the raft from underneath her, ditches the knife, and then tells her, as she's freaking out in the deflating raft, that he will swim back to the boat and get it started to come pick her up. Then he just waits it out. Pretty simply crime really. The premeditation comes in when you factor in his deliberate mention of having two rafts to the deputy sheriff before the murder.

Slightly OT, but was there an update that was shown to this segment prior to Race being released from prison? I could've sworn I saw one about the people who claimed to have located his second raft.
grand opening, grand closing. that's all there is to this case.
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Old 04-28-2020, 02:47 PM   #15
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I've always believed that Larry, an avid diver and boater, knew that the damage to the boat was minimal and that it wouldn't sink, but oversold it to Debbie, who was always leery about being on the boat. He convinces her they have to abandon ship and he will push her to shore, he inflates the one raft he had on the boat, and starts pushing her. He cuts the raft from underneath her, ditches the knife, and then tells her, as she's freaking out in the deflating raft, that he will swim back to the boat and get it started to come pick her up. Then he just waits it out. Pretty simply crime really. The premeditation comes in when you factor in his deliberate mention of having two rafts to the deputy sheriff before the murder.

Slightly OT, but was there an update that was shown to this segment prior to Race being released from prison? I could've sworn I saw one about the people who claimed to have located his second raft.
See now that is a theory I can get on board with - I just could not get with the "putting on scuba gear" part, although, in fairness, I would need to go back and watch again. I can believe that he hauled her into the raft, had the knife with him and while pushing her, cut the bottom. He then left her, swam back and the boat started again. Better wait a few hours to make sure she drowns, though! It was still a risky plan as Lake Superior in early May? May as well be January, lol! It is COLD!
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