CATHERINE BACH's ANGUISH

Published on: May 12, 2010
CATHERINE BACH's ANGUISH

Dukes of Hazzard star CATHERINE BACH suffered a complete emotional breakdown after her husband's shocking suicide, her mother-in-law told The ENQUIRER in an exclusive interview.

The 57-year-old actress collapsed when police broke the tragic news her husband Peter Lopez had shot himself in the family's backyard, and then the devastated star immediately called his mother, Eleanor Lopez.

"Catherine had dropped their two girls off at school, and by the time she got home, there were police everywhere. But it was too late - Peter was dead," Eleanor, 88, told The ENQUIRER.

"She screamed, collapsed, and then she called me and said, 'Peter shot himself. He's gone.'

"Now she's like a zombie. She's completely out of it, in a daze. She keeps saying, 'What are we going to do now? Why would Peter do this? Why?'

"She's under a doctor's care and has been given heavy medication, but she just can't accept what's happened. None of us can. My granddaughters can't stop crying. It's a house of grief over there."

Catherine became a Hollywood icon portraying Daisy Duke in The Dukes of Hazzard from 1979 to 1985.  She'd been married to Lopez, a prominent attorney, since 1990. They had two daughters - Sophia Isabella, 14, and Laura Esmeralda, 11.

On the morning of April 30, he apparently picked up a loaded handgun the couple kept for protection, and walked past their maid Delmi into the backyard of their Encino, Calif., home.

Lopez, 60, headed up a small hill, and fired a bullet into his head. Delmi found his body crumpled on the ground.

While some reports said there was a suicide note, his mother said that's not true.

"Peter didn't leave a suicide note. It was completely unexpected," Mrs. Lopez told The ENQUIRER.

"When he walked past Delmi, he must have had the gun with him, but she didn't see it. She thought he was going outside to exercise.

"I spoke to Peter just the night before, and he seemed happy. He did seem tired, like he was overworked, but he was upbeat and positive.

"I asked him, 'Why do you work so hard? You should take it easier and get more rest.' But he just told me, 'I'm fine. Everything's OK.'"

Despite that, Mrs. Lopez suspects that it was stress that drove her son to kill himself.

"Peter was always traveling to Miami and New York. Plus he had business in Russia and traveled there. He never talked about work to the family. But who knows? Maybe he was hiding something," she said.

"I imagine it will come out eventually. But there didn't seem to be any financial trouble, and everything was going well. He had a great marriage, two beautiful girls, lots of friends and plenty of money. What more can you want out of life?"

Lopez was a popular celebrity attorney who had represented Michael Jackson, Michael Buble and members of The Eagles. He was a co-producer of the 1997 film Selena with Jennifer Lopez and a founding partner of the law firm Kleinberg, Lopez, Lange, Cuddy and Klein.

Craig Harvey, operations chief with the Los Angeles County coroner's office, confirmed that Lopez died from an apparently self-inflicted gunshot wound to the head.

"They kept that gun in the house loaded, as protection, and now, it's killed Peter," Mrs. Lopez told The ENQUIRER. "It was just there and ready. It was so easy for him to pick it up and walk outside with it.

"Now my beautiful granddaughters will have to grow up without their father. Thank God, his body was gone by the time they got home. Catherine was the one who told them, and they started crying immediately.

"Catherine's mother is with her, and John Schneider was with her for a while. They remained good friends long after The Dukes of Hazzard was over.

"It's awful. Peter's left nothing behind but questions, and Catherine is devastated."